In a search for more peace and happiness, and less stress and anxiety, self-help gurus, religious leaders, and wellness experts have preached the idea of letting go of the small stuff. So what if you are a few minutes late to a dinner party? What’s the big deal if you don’t get your to-do list done today? And who cares if you miss that one workout?
The truth is, the small stuff can add up over time and have a big impact on your health and life, and I do believe mastering the small stuff is how you achieve the big stuff in life. But I also agree that we can, and should, stop beating ourselves up over the little things all day long.
Now what about the big stuff? It’s easy to give ourselves a pass on the little stuff, and we do let plenty of the little stuff slide. You need to occasionally look at the big stuff. The crazy thing is, while we all know there a million little things to contemplate, we have plenty of big things that we simply cannot ignore. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff… but you better sweat the big stuff.
What is the big stuff? The big stuff is the stuff that destroys careers, wipes out relationships, or crushes your health. If you rely on alcohol or drugs… if you lie… if you are having an extramarital relationship… if you steal… if you binge on junk food… or if you are physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive to others… you MUST stop. These are BIG things. These are the things that don’t chip away at the quality of your life, taking years to show the real damage they cause, these are the meteors that will obliterate your life! These are the things that likely will smash you in a moment!
Many of you are shaking your heads, thinking that there can’t be that much big stuff going on. First, the statistics on infidelity, theft, drug use, and abuse are staggering. Second, it is very common for people to grade their own behavior with extreme leniency. It is a natural defense response to somehow justify our unethical acts, or gloss over them as not being that bad. Taking a deep dive into your own life, and carefully looking at what you do and how you act, can reveal some very concerning behavior.
If you do take a hard look at your life and behavior (I strongly suggest you do!), and things are pretty clean, congratulations. I commend you and am very happy for you. The main thing I would say to you is to avoid ever even dabbling with those big bad things. In your case, I would go back and take a look at the little things. While you don’t have to sweat all of them, it’s worth working to improve the little things. It will make a difference, I promise. You make a heck of a lot progress without breaking that sweat.
If any big things came up in your personal analysis, you MUST change immediately. While these things can be catastrophic to you and your life, I can assure you that there soon will be (and likely already is) major collateral damage that will permanently affect those closest to you. Yes, there are the obvious people that will be harmed or hurt by the big stuff that you are doing that is not good, but in the wake of your poor decision making and reckless behavior are many people that you don’t realize will be harmed, even devastated, by your actions.
Life is complex. Humans are bizarre creatures. We regularly fall into the trap that the world revolves around us. That we are owed something. That nudges us to be reckless, careless, and selfish at times. Some of it is small. Let’s not seat that stuff. But some of it is really big. You absolutely must sweat the big stuff!