Cause and effect. Give and take. Act / react. Vicious cycle. Chain reaction.
No matter how you put it life happens.
Several years ago, I began to look at life as a verb. I would tell people that life had lifed at me. That life looked at me and said, “Things are going too smoothly in your world. Here! Catch this challenge. Deal with this struggle.”
Sometimes those challenges would be small.
I would forget my work keys at home and have to turn around. Simple problem. Simple solution. It made me look at why I forgot those keys and examine how to make sure I grabbed everything I needed before leaving the house. A small problem, a glitch in my day, found me aggravated for the rest of the day, and that aggravation affected how I dealt with everything from my co-workers to my students to how I felt as I graded papers and planned for the next day. I had let my reaction to something small negatively affect almost everything.
Sometimes those challenges would be greater, more day or life altering.
Here’s your pink slip. You and 413 other teacher are laid off due to budget cuts and building closures. You can apply and interview for positions that open up in this district or you can revise your resume and apply in other districts. The choice is yours, but as it stands, your job will be given to another teacher displaced by the closing of another school.
Forgetting my keys seemed trivial in the face of being laid off.
Life hands us all sorts of challenges, but it is our reaction to that challenge that is more important. Letting that challenge negatively affect our day is the worst thing we can do. That negative reaction can destroy relationships, create friction with our co-workers, and ultimately lead to stress related illnesses.
In 1997, Richard Carlson published Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and It’s All Small Stuff. The first half of the title became a mantra for many people I knew, especially my mom. Saying to yourself “Don’t sweat the small stuff” OR “That’s not worth my energy” can help you keep your day more balanced.
It’s not worth my energy trying to change the behavior of the driver who just cut me off. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s more worth my energy to be grateful that I was paying attention and avoided an accident.
It’s not worth being upset with my children for getting sick; they can’t help it. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s more worth my energy to be grateful that I have (had) a job where I could call in sick and take care of my children.
It’s not worth my anger at a cashier at the grocery store when either the system breaks down or the price comes up wrong, especially since the cashier had nothing to do with either event. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s more worth my energy to calmly point out the error so that it can be fixed for other people. It is also more worth my energy to be grateful to be able to purchase what I need.
It’s not worth my energy to be frustrated with the icy storms that have blanketed Tennessee because there is truly nothing I can do to change the weather. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s more worth my energy to be grateful to the staff at the two doctor offices who called yesterday afternoon (Yes, they called on a Sunday.) to say that their offices would be closed Monday and Tuesday and to reschedule Hubby’s appointments.
It’s time to start realizing that the only thing you can ACTUALLY CONTROL is yourself and how you react to situations that come your way.
What would happen if you didn’t react with anger?
What would happen if you didn’t react with yelling?
What would happen if you didn’t react with insinuations?
Because, let’s face it. Is something that is negatively affecting your day within your ability to change? Will those reactions ever change the person they are directed at?