This morning, I was out taking an early morning walk in my neighborhood and listening to a recorded workout designed to help focus on “letting go”. One of the phrases used was “don’t sweat the small stuff”, and at first I thought YES – that is right – I shouldn’t worry about the little things!
Another practice I aspire to daily is meditation. In meditation, you aim to identify thoughts and let them pass while you focus on your breathing and being more present in the moment. When you are present in the moment, you focus on very small things, like the air in your lungs, a smell in the air, a sound in the trees.
Isn’t this a mixed message? On one hand we are advised “don’t sweat the small stuff” but on the other had we are encouraged to focus exclusively on small things. What is the difference?
I think the key difference is the idea of worry. Worry is a cognitive process based on a physiological sensation of fear and an emotion of anxiety. We worry when we feel fearful or we feel anxious. Worry can in turn lead to feeling fearful or anxious. When we worry we are in a vicious cycle and can get quite stuck there!
Worrying about insignificant small things makes it difficult to focus on the significant small things.
In this case, the challenge is to figure out for yourself:
What is significant and insignificant?
What is important and not important?
What thoughts deserve your time and attention?
What small things do you have control over and which ones do you not have control over?
Once you have the answer to these questions you can decide which small things you should sweat over and which ones you should let go. On my next morning walk, I am going to ask myself these questions instead of trying to stop sweating the small stuff!