Something I wrote three years ago and ran across just now:
“Learn how to separate the majors and the minors. A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.” — Jim Rohn
A moment of epiphany for me about this was in the early 1990s when I was quite ill and Toronto had one of its hottest summers ever. I lived in a house that had no air conditioning and if you’ve ever experienced one of Toronto’s heat waves you know what I’m talking about. It was impossible to get a good night of sleep as the house never cooled down enough to be comfortable and the air outside was still so there was no breeze blowing in through the open windows. I remember, one night, still awake around 3 a.m. and just feeling oh so sorry for myself that it was hot, that I was uncomfortable, that I couldn’t sleep and then, right out loud in my bedroom, I said:“Joss, there are people dying in Bosnia and you’re complaining because you don’t have central air conditioning”. Somehow that put things in perspective. I don’t know where that thought came from but it started me on a path of not sweating (pun intended here!) the small stuff.
For years I worked in a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre and was the ‘go to’ person for the staff. People often stopped by my office to talk, to de-stress, to catch their breath a bit. When someone was going on too long about something that couldn’t be changed, I would smile and say “the sun will still rise tomorrow morning” (and of course if it doesn’t we will have much bigger things to worry about). Maybe I got away with saying this because I was a good listener, but seriously!
I find that people often apologize for little things – someone is late meeting up with you – the sales clerk has no gift boxes left – the bank clerk can’t update your bank book. I often respond to those apologies with “if this is the worst thing that happens to me this week, I’ll be just fine”. And I always get a smile in return.
I remember when my oldest boy was 14 and decided he wanted a tattoo. We had a number of conversations about it, after which I agreed to sign a permission form. Because he was under age he needed the approval of a parent. I was relating this in the staff room at the school I taught at back then and a few people were just horrified that I had agreed to this. I heard myself saying “you know, when he’s thirty, will it really matter that he got a tattoo when he was fourteen?” And that stayed with me as I raised my children, when I found myself starting to get wound up about something they were doing or wanted to do, I would pause and ask myself “when she’s thirty, will it matter that she died her hair blue when she was thirteen?” or whatever!
Lately I find myself using “this is not a life crisis” which very few things are. You only got a 1% increase in your pension this year? It’s April 1st and snowing? The doctor made you wait 35 minutes before seeing you? Someone cut you off on the way to work? These things can be annoying for sure, but they are NOT a life crisis.
Each day is precious and never to be lived again. Let’s not waste any part of it majoring on the minor inconveniences or aggravations.
Walk in beauty dear friends.