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Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff

I think it’s pretty much consensus at this point in our history that stress is bad for us.

It doesn’t solve anything, makes us feel bad, and wastes a lot of energy on things we don’t necessarily have control over.  It also makes us sick!

Doctors have linked just about every lousy thing that can happen to you or I to stress.  Not that stress is the sole cause of many of our ailments, but it seems to be a consistent contributor.  And certainly, when added to the mix, only seems to make things worse.

So why is it that we stress out?  Why do we worry about so many thing so much of the time?

I guess that’s like asking why we eat fast food or why we don’t exercise…

The thing about worry and stress is that they doesn’t have any right to run our lives.  They aren’t welcomed visitors in our experience and we should escort them out just like we would any other party-crashers.  If only it were that easy, right?

So what if we didn’t worry about anything?  Would that make our lives more amazing?  Or would it make us detached from reality?  Is it even possible?

We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff”.  It’s a nice little quip and it seems to make us feel like we’re giving out sage advice when we offer it up to a friend in need.  Heck, sometimes we even convince ourselves that we’re living stress-free because we’ve learned not to worry about the mailman being on time or some other trivial matter.

But why would we limit it to just the small stuff?  I mean, geez, not sweating the small stuff is a given!  And quite frankly, it’s pretty easy!

What about the big stuff?  Does worrying and stressing over big things help us in some way?  Is it okay to be under control and calm during minor moments of anxiety, but alright to freak out when something pushes us a couple of feet outside of our comfort zone?

Me thinks, absolutely not.

Worrying about any stuff, whether it’s big, small, medium, or some other size, is a complete waste of time and not healthy for any of us, mentally, physically, or spiritually.

Here’s an example which you might be able to relate to.  How many times have you been awake in bed, dreading the events of the next day?  Just lying there, like a zombie, locked into that mode where you begin to borrow trouble that hasn’t even happened yet.  Anticipating an onslaught of events which will force you to do all sorts of things you don’t like in order to just get through the day.  It sucks, right?

And here’s the thing – staying up late on a Sunday night worrying about the assignment that awaits you Monday morning is totally counter productive in at least two very significant ways.  First, there is absolutely nothing you can do about that assignment until you get to the office on Monday, so it is only driving you insane thinking about it.  And second, you are preventing yourself and your body from getting some much needed sleep and relaxation.  And by the way, that sleep and relaxation will be far better preparation than worry for anything that tomorrow brings.  Always.  You need your R & R!

Here’s the reason I’m writing this tonight…

I want to challenge you to stop worrying.  About anything!  There’s absolutely no good reason for you to worry.  Ever!  It’s only hurting you and taking years off of your life.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Everyone from your family doctor to Jesus has told you to not worry about stuff.  So why are you still engaging in this horribly unhealthy and completely useless ritual?

If you can’t think of a rational reason to that last question, then you’re already half way home.  Now just become conscious of the fact that you’re giving way too much energy to things you can’t control, and start letting go.  You’re not going to miss out on any fun by stopping the worry train in its tracks. You CAN stop.  It’s not natural anyway, and it certainly doesn’t feel good.  So, lose it!

Trust in yourself and believe in the greatest good for your life.  Control what you can control, and always do your best.  That is seriously ALL you can do.  And don’t sweat any of it.

Starting NOW…

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4 Responses to “Don’t Sweat the Big Stuff”

  1. avatar Ali Bierman says:

    Wonderful, well done post, Mike. I used to be a major worrier—came from a long line of worriers. When my son was 16 he looked at me as I was worried about something and said, “Mom, why do you worry? If you can do something, then do it. If not, worry doesn’t help.”
    His message changed my life right there and then.
    You are so right on, Mike. As a healthcare practitioner I can verify that stress forms the basis for 7 of the top 10 causes of death. AND you not only waste your precious energy in worry, but you weaken the person about whom you worry AND yourself. Therefore you make yourself and that person less able to cope!
    Anyway, what you focus on expands. The worry gets bigger as you focus on the problem. How the heck can you see the solutions?

  2. Great post. Many years ago I got myself a worry jar and as a family we put our worries in the jar and then we scheduled worry time once a week. The concept keeps helping us get out of worry and the stress attached to it.

  3. The trick (and it usually is one) is to prepare for various scenarios. That way, you have the ability to react to whatever comes without stimulating your flight or fight response. More importantly, you can react quicker, since you have a plan.
    If you don’t- even if you don’t sweat the big or small stuff- you’ll punch your adrenalin through the roof trying to come up with and utilize an ad-hoc solution

  4. avatar Mike Shippey says:

    Thanks for the fantastic comments.

    Ali – what a wonderful life-changing moment! Kids say the darndest things…and often the most truthful! You really have a great perspective on what worry truly does to us and those around us.

    Roberta – I love the idea of the worry jar, especially if it never gets used! Letting the stress all go is exactly what we should be doing, and that’s a fun way to do it.

    Roy – I like the plan. It also gives you a more reasonable frame of reference when you search for something in your mind. You won’t be drawing up worst case scenarios based on nothing, you can actually access some solutions. Great advice!

    All the best
    MS

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