Six Ways to Let Little Things Go
One of my goals this year is to be a grace-first person.
I have a long way to go.
My garbage collector picked up the trash in the can yesterday, but he left the three extra bags on the ground. The holidays just passed, so we had more waste than usual. I emailed the garbage company and got the following response, “We do not take anything outside the container. Please take them to your local landfill or add them to your empty container for next week’s services.”
I immediately composed my reply, “If I cared to load my garbage up and drive it to the landfill, I wouldn’t be paying you.”
Before hitting send, I hesitated.
Do I really want to get into a pissing contest with my trash company?
In the years they have serviced me, have I had ever had a problem?
When do I foresee this issue happening again?
Could I pack the trash bags in better to eliminate the issue?
All these thoughts occurred to me, and I didn’t send a reply. Also, changing companies is a pain, and for what good reason?
I realized that I need to be better at letting little things go. I’ll never be a grace-first person if my garbage company can set me off over a stupid, silly thing that’s never happened before. Where was my grace with them?
How could I be better about letting the little things go? I came up with a few ideas/questions to help me.
Will I Regret it Tomorrow?
We all say and do things we regret. Many times, the regret is instantaneous, but the words or deeds are like putting toothpaste back into the tube.
It’s messy. It’s impossible.
But if in that split second before we open our big, fat mouths, if we could ask ourselves that question.
Will I regret it tomorrow?
Our lives would be less messy with fewer things we need to apologize for.
Will it Matter Tomorrow?
If I don’t react to this thing that just occurred, will it matter tomorrow? I summoned the restraint to let it go with the garbage collector, and today my life is still fine. I didn’t like his response, but who cares? I’ve been pleased with his service for five years.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke
Some things need to be said or done, but fewer words are best more often than not.
There’s always tomorrow if it still matters.
Don’t Assume the Worst
Let’s be honest. We struggle with letting little things go because we get offended.
We think someone is attacking us. We assume the worst.
Yet the person could be having a really crappy day. We could be the next person he encounters five seconds after his wife yelled at him and hung up on him.
It’s bad timing, not bad intentions.
It’s not always about me. Or you.
Muster the superhuman resolve to assume the best or at least not assume the worst. Then the split-second moment will pass, and all parties involved will be better off for it.
When we feel that someone has attacked us, try an advanced level strategy. Respond with a smile, not a counterstrike. That’s a disarming way to let a few seconds pass and discover if the threat was real. If it was, a smile is still the best reply.
Consider the Source
This thing that set me off — was something said in an email or text message or some other digital format? If so, here’s an important reminder — the smile on the person’s face as he typed the message doesn’t come across. When I receive the message, my lack of sleep from the night before might affect how it hits me. My flare-up could be misguided.
So just let it go.
Or follow up with a polite clarifying question with a 😊
Fake it Until You Make it
You recognize you have an issue sweating the small stuff. That’s good. But you’re not going to overcome it today. Or tomorrow. It’s a process. Here’s a few tips:
- Plaster on a smile in public
- Allow someone to move ahead of you in the grocery line
- Tip a slack waitress an extra dollar or two
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
The world is upside down and stressed out, and we’re making big things out of little things and creating some-things out of nothing.
We are part of the problem until we decide we aren’t going to be any longer, even if we have to fake it until we make it.
Check Under the Hood
As Ferris Bueller said, life moves pretty fast, and we often don’t slow down to take time for self-reflection.
We never pause to think in our fast-paced, frenetic, always connected, perpetually distracted world. We constantly react, consume, and scroll, becoming more and more disconnected from our souls.
If little things keep setting you off, it’s time to slow down and examine why. Ask yourself questions, such as, are there deeper things at play here?
Do poor health habits have your blood pressure high?
Are you unhappy in your job?
Is there unresolved conflict in your relationships?
Do you need more sleep?
Are there good habits you need to begin?
These are excellent questions to examine.
Are You Ready to Let the Little Things Go?
What’s the alternative to learning to let little things go? I guess it’s holding on to them and letting them pile up higher and deeper. That’s a sad way to live, if not tragic. It’s also a recipe for a lonely life as who wants to be around a person like this? Since I’m writing this article (preaching to myself) and you’re reading it, we’re both without excuse now.
We are aware of the problem. We recognize that it is us, and we are the only ones who can fix it.
Let’s get started.