Guess what someone said to me this week. Go ahead, guess. I was bitching making simple conversation about some BS thing a minor issue I was having and this person told me to … ready for this? … “not sweat the small stuff.”
I’ll pause for you to be sufficiently flabbergasted.
I KNOW… RIGHT??
Doesn’t she know that my life’s work IS the small stuff?!?
Here’s the background for those of you cave-dwellers:
A guy named Richard Carlson wrote a book called, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff.” I’ve never read this book. I’m sure it’s full of wisdom and insights (that I may or may not laugh at) but I’m here today to discuss the title as a societal cliché, not to review the book.
(I admit, if I read the book, I would probably not even write this essay. I would be so relaxed I could just pour myself a shot of tequila, flip open my Us Weekly and sit on the patio reading all day… wait, why am I not reading the book again?)
Anyway… back to not sweating the small stuff.
Worst Advice Ever. I cringe when I hear it. You know why? Because it’s impossible to not sweat the small stuff. The “small stuff” is called daily life. The “small stuff” is my job description. The “small stuff” is my bread & butter. (I’ve always wanted to say that something is my bread and butter.)
Let’s think about this so-called “small stuff.” Washing the dishes. Folding the laundry. Stocking the house with food, drink, paper products, light bulbs, diapers, and other essentials like Pirates Booty and M&Ms. Buying my bike helmets that actually fit. Paying our water bill. Registering my kids for a total of seven different summer camps/activities before all the slots are filled up. Thank you notes, birthday party, the list goes on and on. This is all small stuff. But it needs to get done.
If I don’t sweat about buying light bulbs, our house is dark!
If I don’t sweat about folding the laundry, nobody has any clean underwear!
And if I don’t sweat about signing my kids up for summer stuff, well, then they’re home with me all day this summer and YIKES, we don’t want to even think about that scenario!
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the meaning behind the idea… have some perspective, these issues are not worth stressing about, blah blah blah but it’s also those kinds of clichés that make people like me feel bad about themselves when we DO get a tiny bit stressed about the 18 lbs of laundry piled up and the fact that the Happy Dude doesn’t have any summer clothes that fit his giant baby body. It makes us feel like we’re neurotic and lacking perspective. AND I’M TOTALLY NOT!!!!!!
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” goes hand-in-hand with the age-old advice, “Live each day as if it were your last.” Seriously? That’s not even realistic. If today was my last day, I SURE AS HELL wouldn’t be pairing socks, ironing on Daisy patches, filling out endless medical forms, registering for a music class, thinking about trying Zumba, planting annuals, Googling “how to get your kid to sleep later than 5:15am” or eating quinoa.
Maybe we should invent a new way of motivating people. A new class of clichés that while inspiring, are also realistic and feasible…
How about simply “Don’t Sweat.” (I mean, if today was really your last day on Earth, would you honestly spend time exercising?)
… or maybe “Live Each Day As If You’re Just Trying to Get Through It Without Losing Your Sh*t.”
That, I can do.