A brief encounter with an old friend last week ended with an off-handed remark that it seemed to her I was behind in life. I guess in her mind the fact that I’m not dating anyone or married or engaged or popping out babies like it’s my full-time job is a little weird. While I tend to not let myself get bogged down by comments like that (I can think of a million other awesome things to be doing besides getting married), I can’t deny that a lot of non-useful thoughts have been stuck in my head. Not only are these thoughts distracting but they seem to be soaking up my time, energy, and general happy disposition so when I read this article about a three-step approach to simplifying your life and getting past the trivial things that seem to bother us, I decided to give it a try.
I wasn’t in a particularly philosophical mindset at the time I read the article so I took the route that gave me some semblance of control. I started by writing out a list of all the things that were bothering me. I even included the petty, stupid stuff so that my list included not just the things I needed or wanted to get done but also things people said or people I don’t like (I’m sure we can all guess who made the list). Once my list was complete, I went through each item and pinpointed some immediate, tangible step I could take to address the issue. Even if I knew I couldn’t resolve the issue right then and there I could at least pinpoint an immediate step I could take to make progress towards the end goal. Just like larger school or work projects, breaking down overwhelming feelings into smaller tidbits has been helpful in alleviating stress. Plus, I’ve found that this process has been a good way of recognizing that while some things are petty and not so important in the larger realm of life, my feelings are still valid and little things do matter (as much as we try not to let them).
Since writing my list of things bothering me, I’ve destroyed more than half of the action steps listed (and all in one night at that). The list ranges from menial stuff like “the fact I have a food baby –> do 15 situps” to more serious things like “Forbes says I should have 3 professional mentoring relationships and I have none –> email Eric already!” and “Not being present in the moment –> buy a new gratitude journal and write down all the things you’re loving today.” Overall, I’ve found the process to be really helpful in changing my disposition. And call me anal, but I love that it makes me feel more in control about the trivial (and not-so trivial) aspects of life.
As an aside, for all those people out there who are engaged or getting married or dating someone or popping out babies … I am genuinely happy for you because your life is fuller and richer in so many different ways than mine. Someday that will be me but right now I’m perfectly okay with being right where I am. ❤