Sweat the Small Stuff

Apparently one of the ah-ha moments we are supposed to have by midlife or as a sign that we have successfully reached midlife is to “not sweat the small stuff.” (Is this, perhaps, a sign of maturity; one of the seminal lessons that we need to internalize before we can become wise elders?) I have not had that moment; in fact, the opposite has happened to me, I have had an ah-ha moment about the importance of sweating the small stuff. (Would that be an un-ah-ha moment?)

It took me time to realize that if I don’t sweat the small stuff, I will never get to the big stuff. If there are any writers out there I can illustrate this easily: the dishes or laundry must be done before any writing can get done. For those who don’t work from home, than this can be illustrated as follows: you will not get any real work done until have straighten up your desk, added more paper clips to your paper clip container, made coffee or organized a coffee run. Okay, maybe this is really about procrastinating and realizing that it has its place in our lives. If we all do it (I am assuming that even Donald Trump does it, although I am unsure about Martha Stewart), then there must be a reason why, and that reason cannot possibly be to simply frustrate us. 

Let’s think about this another way: would we really be getting right to the big stuff if we didn’t first take some time to procrastinate? Is it possible to just dive into a project the minute you walk into the office in the morning or the second you come back from the bathroom (and did you really need to go or was that another form of procrastination)? Isn’t the paper clip arranging a form of meditation whereby we prepare our minds to settle down to the task-at-hand? Couldn’t we think of googling everything that pops into our minds before making an important decision or phone call actually a way for us to settle our thoughts without focusing on them and perhaps unsettling them? Could it be that procrastination is akin to reverse psychology? Just because we are not thinking of something directly, does not mean that we are not thinking of it right behind the curtain of activity. You ease your mind as you do the dishes so that it will be ready to be strained to do whatever you demand of it. 

Maybe the small stuff are mind exercises? Maybe we need to think about the little things, and accomplish the little things before we can tackle the big things. The small stuff are the sudoku of life.

If you don’t sweat the small stuff, then you will end up procrastinating forever because all of those little things will stay on your mind interfering with your ability to come at things with a clear mind. And no, this was not written to excuse myself from still not having renewed my passport which I said I would do at the beginning of the summer, this is about trying to understand how I function on a day-to-day basis, how I can work with my mind’s flow and not stifle it by forcing it to work according to an imposed expectation. 

If the sweat that drips down us is meant to cool us off, wouldn’t the purpose of the mental sweat be similar? It cools off our minds, but rather than signal the end of a workout, it signals that we are ready to begin the workout. In both cases, the sweat is a clarifying agent. 

Sweat the Small Stuff So You Can Get to the Important Things

Laura, sweating about big and small stuff at www.RebelliousThoughtsofaWoman.com