Years ago the book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.. and it's all small stuff by Richard Carlson was pretty popular. It is so popular that it is now a series! Anyway, the book gives different meditations and ideas to help you de-stress. It is funny that after selling millions of copies of the book that people are still sweating all the stuff, big and small.. You would think that a phrase so simple wold be so easy to complete.
I was reminded of this concept while chatting with one of my friends earlier today. My friend is on a family trip and is having conflicts with her sister. From as long as I have known my friend she has always had a tumultuous relationship with her sister because of their vastly different personalities and her sister's lack of maturity. So it is rather unsurprising that my friend would have another tiff with her sister while on this most recent outing.
In my unsolicited advice I told my friend to ignore her sister. I told her, and I am paraphrasing here, that she needs to ignore her sister. I also added that she can't change her sister's behaviors or even personality. She cannot will her sister into being more mature or being less self-centered. I told my friend that the only person that she can change is herself and how she chooses to react to her sister. I know that is easier said than done, especially in the moment. But I guess the worst feeling in the world is when you want to change someone that won't change.
I can relate to my friend. I too can sometimes hold on to words from others and internalize them for years. I have never been the "don't sweat the small stuff" type of gal. I sweat the small stuff right beside the big stuff. When I was younger I often felt that I would have a fate similar to the professor in A Beautiful Mind and think myself to death. I sometimes think that worrying in my family was a trait that was passed down from generation after generation.
Even with all the prayer, yoga, and meditation it is hard to shake the concern and the worry over situations that many times I have no control. It is exhausting to have conversations and feelings of hurt replay in my mind and in my heart repeatedly. I have often wished that my mind was a blank slate and that I would never have to care about other's feelings, or worry about doing the right thing, or being the better person, or any other crap that we are taught as children. But I can't turn it off. I have trouble letting go.
I look at others and I admire how cool and collected they always seem to be. You know those level headed individuals who let everything roll of their backs? My dad was kind of like that. Guess I didn't get that from him. But while I believe that I will never quite master the art of letting things go and picking and choosing my battles, I will never stop trying and learning. I guess it is just a process, just like everything else.
Maybe the most important concept is to remember that in the grand scheme of it all that a vast majority really is small stuff and not worth sweating.