I will be the first to admit that I’ve never been good at dealing with stress. I’ve got the type of personality that tends to fuel the flames, rather than extinguish them.
Where some might stop, drop, and roll, I’m more likely to hurl a keg of gasoline at the situation and see if that solves the problem.
I’ve gotten much better at dealing with stress over the years, but I know my problem has cost me relationships and friendships. I apparently used to believe that one of the keys to a successful marriage was making sure that I won every argument and always got in the last word.
That’s the problem with writers. We always have so many words available, and we feel like we are failing if we don’t use every single one of them to prove a point.
I’ve been cursed by the inability to just “Let it go”. Things stay with me, gnaw at me, and I’m always holding conversations in my head with whoever it is I have the problem. That makes it hard to sleep, get on with life, and just be productive.
So I’m trying very hard to at least dial it back with the little things. As I learned this winter, the simple act of purchasing snow tires could have a ripple effect that made my life a lot less stressful.
Of course, just because I set my mind to something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Yes, I have definitely done a better job of not allowing smaller problems to drive me up the wall, onto the roof, and force me to spend the night sleeping beneath the stars.
There’s a lot going on up in my skull, and I’ve never understood what causes a certain situation to send me into a panic.
All day long, though, it ate away at me that my fitness tracker would not work together with my cell phone to bring peace and harmony to my life.
And I knew I was being ridiculous. At one point, I told a coworker I was dealing with “first world, dorky white boy problems”.
After twelve hours of unnecessary stress, I finally restarted the FitBit and all was well. I can be such a goober.
Something similar happened last night. I was looking forward to watching the Yankees game, but when I turned on the TV, MLB TV was not working. I checked it repeatedly for half an hour because, you know, cable issues can be resolved that way, before finally calling customer service.
Then the cable guy kept arguing with me and telling me I didn’t even have the channel on my plan. After that, he couldn’t figure out how to reset my cable box remotely, so he had be unplug it. You see, I could’ve just fixed it myself!
However, unplugging the box only made things worse. Not only did the Yankees not magically appear on my TV, but now the DVR also didn’t work. Which meant I couldn’t catch up on my shows in lieu of watching the game.
Another wild Friday night ruined!
As I felt the stress wash over me, and my mind turn to heed Lord Vader’s call to the Dark Side, I decided not to implode over the fact that I couldn’t watch a sporting event.
I turned off the TV, opened the MLB app on my phone to follow the game, and decided to go for a long walk.
Three thousand steps later, the stress was gone, the Yankees had a big lead, and I was sweating cardiovascular activity, rather than the small stuff.
Ironically, I had decided to write this post this morning, long before I mowed the lawn. Then something happened that gave me the perfect ending for this tale.
As I was mowing the lawn, I discovered what looked like a little wheel in the grass. I couldn’t quite place it, so I set it aside to figure out what it was when I was done. Then I was pushing the mower up the massive hill on with The Great Lawn of The House on the Hill rests, and the handle almost fell off the device.
I searched the lawn for the missing nut and bolt, but they were long gone, probably eaten by the grass in an act of revenge for my cutting it down with my mighty blade.
My immediate reaction was to freak out. Would I be able to use the mower anymore? Was I going to have to buy a new one? How much was that going to cost? Why the hell haven’t I just paved over this lawn? Why in the world did I ever move to Maine in the first place?
Then I took a really long breath. I remembered the old bucket of nuts and bolts that I never use in the garage, and decided to look for replacement parts.
Five minutes later, I had fixed the problem all by myself. Woo hoo!
I know that upon first reading it, this post doesn’t exactly sell me as the best spokesperson for Let’s Not Sweat The Small Stuff, but if you go back and reread it, you will see that I’m actually quite qualified for the job.
I reached out for help from friends and solved the problem with the FitBit.
I walked away from the issue with the cable before it could become anything bigger, and turned it into a positive fitness experience. For the record, when I turned on the TV this morning, MLB TV and the DVR were both working fine.
I got the freak out over the lawnmower out of the system, and as soon as those bad vibes were gone, calmer thoughts prevailed and I solved the problem.
As my dear old Dad would say, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”
If you can avoid sweating the little things, it will be easier to cope with the larger stress bombs in your life.
Before you know it, you’ll be much more relaxed and smiling like that handsome devil in the photo on the left. Trust the Modern Philosopher on this…