It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out — it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.
You come to a point in life in which you understand a fundamental truth- the little things in life can bring us both joy and misery. In the posting, Living from a Place of Gratitude, I talked about the many things that we so easily take for granted but which bring us much joy: a blue sky, being with friends, reading a great book, and so on. Over time we come to realize that these seemingly small things are not small at all.
The same can be true for what annoys or bothers us. While it is important not to sweat the small stuff, there are things that we encounter from time to time that can be downright irritating such as impatient, aggressive drivers, long lines for the bank machine, individuals with a strong sense of entitlement, or when the tab breaks off the frozen orange juice can before you can open it.
You may ask why anyone would put up with something that bothers them? One reason is that there are some things over which we have little control or limited ability to change. For example, we are unlikely to change the behaviour of a poor driver and sometimes we can’t avoid the line at the bank. There are situations that we simply need to let go and not fuss about so we can move on.
At the same time, there are things we put up with and over which we do have control. Perhaps we are used to dwelling on the big issues and the minor ones are- well – minor. These are the issues that may be somewhat imperceptible; or we have a habit of overlooking them; or we only realize how irritated we are after the fact. But I think they are worth our attention. Just as some small things contribute to an enriched life, others can diminish it. In and of themselves, such things may seem almost trivial; but over time, depending on what else we are dealing with in life, they can upset our sense of equilibrium, wear us down, or leave us feeling out of sorts. The small things may end up not being so small.
And so we need to pay attention to the so called grain of sand in our shoe. When we remove these irritants, we create space for better things to come our way and simply feel better. This doesn’t mean things need to be perfect all the time. Often “good enough” is actually good enough. And there are some things we can’t change right away. But sometimes we put up with mediocrity when we don’t need to. Why would something that is “so- so”, or “just OK”, or “not bad”, be acceptable? There are enough things in life that are difficult to change. Why not gather our resolve to change the small things and in so doing, strengthen our capacity to tackle the bigger stuff?
The list of those little things that bother us is personal and it changes. Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves: does this encounter or situation or object bring joy or is it baggage being carried? Is the space we inhabit (e.g. work; home) helping to cultivate a sense of calm or is it the incubator for a brewing storm? Can I do anything about this situation to change it for the better?
What are the things in life that you don’t want to put up with or don’t want to do? Here are a few of mine:
- Put up with poor service
- Rush around except when absolutely necessary
- Work I don’t love to do
- Experience loud noisy environments
- Finish a book I don’t enjoy
- Watch violent movies
- Wear clothes that are not really comfortable or that I feel ambivalent about
- Eat food that doesn’t taste great- if you are going to eat dessert or indulge in a treat, eat the good stuff!
Many women live a life of compromise , often for the sake of others and the “greater good”. And there are times we need to do that, but it is also essential to attend to our own needs, revelling in the wonderful small moments and culling the ones that get in the way of enjoying a marvellous day.