Will you remember what is bothering you? Will you remember this small event that’s “haunting” you at this moment?  If the answer is no, then whatever it is you are worrying about is probably not that important. You shouldn’t be too worried about it. Asking yourself, “Will I remember this on my deathbed?” will help you put things into perspective. Your level of stress and anxiety will decrease tenfold when you realize the overwhelming majority of “problems” we face are not that important in the grand scheme of things. A failed test in school or a not so hot job review, is not life defining. They might even be blessings in disguise that show you are in wrong line of work or study. This realization will make dealing with failures, minor mistakes and embarrassing moments, a lot easier to deal with. In most cases, what stresses us today will be forgotten.  When you realize this, you will feel at ease.

A lot of stress and anxiety come from worrying about the small things that hardly matter. After reading the book by Richard Carlson “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff”, I have never been the same. I internalized its simple core message of not worrying about minor things. Every failure in school, with a girl, or with any other small mishap, I get over it when I ask myself, “Will I remember this on my deathbed?” Way more often than not, the answer is a resounding no. Constant stress and worries are no longer filling my head. Dealing with everyday life has become extremely easier since I began to “not sweat the small stuff.”

I have begun to care less and less about what others think of me because I realize what some random person thinks of me has no bearing on my life. I have less anxiety and stress because I do not constantly think to myself if this person likes me or not. Sure, I do sometimes because I am not perfect. However, I am able to brush of these thoughts aside because I know that these peoples’ opinion of me is “small stuff.” Realizing that a majority of life and everyday interactions and occurrences are not that important has been revolutionary in reducing my stress level.

Besides, your own life depends on how you react to daily incidences according to stress researcher Caroline Aldwin. Her work shows that being able to “roll with the punches” leads to a longer life. In one of her studies, she studied 1,293 men with a median age of 65 for more than 20 years. Her results were staggering. Only 29% of the subjects who experienced few everyday hassles had died. Whereas, 64% percent of the subjects who experienced high levels of everyday hassles had died. According to Aldwin and her team, “The problem is chemical: Regular annoyances, like major moments of stress, lead to increased levels of cortisol — the “stress hormone” — which leads to a degraded capacity for learning and memory, lower immune function, increased blood pressure and cholesterol, enhanced weight gain and a higher risk of heart disease.” (Aldwyn, 2014)[1]

Learning to get over the little things is a win-win proposition. It increases the quality of your life by not letting miniscule matters become day ruiners. It increases the longevity of your life because it reduces the likelihood of the issues mentioned above. So, ask yourself in times of doubt, “Will I remember this on my deathbed?”

Activity:

Write down whatever has been causing you stress over the past week. Then make three columns left to right: Is this something that is important? Will I remember this a year from now? Will I remember this on my deathbed? Write in each stressor to each category that it applies to if at all.

 

If getting a bad job review is something that is important and in a year will be remembered write it in both columns. Do the same with the stressors such as being cut off driving or completing an assignment at work or in school. Are these regular anxiety producers worthy to be in these columns? This activity will help you better understand what really is important in your life and what is not. You might find many things in your life that get you worked up are simply not worth worrying about.

[1] https://mic.com/articles/99468/science-reveals-why-you-really-really-shouldn-t-sweat-the-small-stuff#.yIK03tnpF

Activity:

Write down whatever has been causing you stress over the past week. Then make three columns left to right: Is this something that is important? Will I remember this a year from now? Will I remember this on my deathbed? Write in each stressor to each category that it applies to if at all.

If getting a bad job review is something that is important and in a year will be remembered write it in both columns. Do the same with the stressors such as being cut off driving or completing an assignment at work or in school. Are these regular anxiety producers worthy to be in these columns? This activity will help you better understand what really is important in your life and what is not. You might find many things in your life that get you worked up are simply not worth worrying about.

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