Life is filled with obsticals big and small. Today, Ronni and Brittany talk about the importance of not letting small things get you down.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Ronni.

Ronni: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: So, life is a wild ride, right?

Ronni: Oh, that’s for sure.

Brittany: I think you can agree on that, and it’s going to be full of ups and downs, and no matter how good life is, it can change in an instant, but that also means that bad times can change in an instant and go back to good. So, it’s just, again, it’s a roller coaster. So, even in the bad times, I can get better and there will be a lot of big things that get in our way, and those might be really hard to face, but there’s going to be little small annoyances too. And so what I want to talk about today, I want to talk about the importance of recognizing the difference between the two, a big thing and a small thing, and figure out how to, there’s a piece of advice that it goes, don’t sweat the small stuff. And I’ve always liked that. That’s really helped me in my life. So, what does that mean? It means don’t worry about little annoyances, and I don’t know about you, Ronni, but sometimes I get annoyed at really silly things. But then those things can grow and grow and grow and become a bigger problem, and it can ruin my entire day. So, let’s say I am kind of busy at work and a coworker comes in and is extra chatty, which is funny. I think I am usually that coworker yes. And it’s not a huge setback. I’m still going to get my work done, but something about it really bothers me. And then I make myself angry and it ruins my whole day. It impacts my mood. And this is another big one for me, is I live in a city where people walk everywhere. I don’t have a car, I walk everywhere. And sometimes there are slow walkers, and that just bothers me to my core. And it’s probably because I’m always rushing to get somewhere, and I should probably be more mindful and present and not be rushing. But there’s nothing more annoying when you’re trying to get somewhere and there’s somebody texting on their phone and not paying attention, and they’re just walking so slow, and I get angry, or maybe this is another silly one, but if you’re eating lunch with a friend and they’re chewing loudly, these little things that just annoy us. But when you think about it in the grand scheme of things, do these silly things really matter? And so, Ronni, I want to ask you, do you have small pet peeves like this?

Ronni: Well, I have to say the first thing that comes to mind is as all of the parents out there listening will know, there’s just sometimes things that kids do that get just so irritating. The mom, mom, mom, mom, or the constant questions. I have a five-year-old who, bless his heart, is the youngest of three, so, he’s always trying to get attention, but he will ask a question over and over and over until someone answers. And I think it’s just his way of being the third child because he feels as though, oh, no one’s listening. So, instead of not asking or waiting until it’s a better time to ask, I’m just going to keep repeating it 10 times in a row until someone finally answers. But yes, that can get frustrating a lot. It’s really not that big of a deal. I was going to say, it’s really not that big of a deal, and it is just him trying to get our attention. But it is sometimes frustrating.

Brittany: And I remember too, when I was a kid, sometimes I would do that just because I wanted to talk to my parents and I didn’t know how to initiate conversation. I was like, I’m just going to ask questions over and over again. Enjoy. Not realizing that it was probably annoying. And as a teacher, I dealt with that too, where it’s like, ah, I love these kids, but oh my goodness, they keep asking these things. Well, so these things are like you said, they’re really small, they don’t really matter, but if we let them, they can ruin not only our day but other people’s as well. And I always try to think of that. I was in a Chipotle the other day ordering food, and the girl who was helping me was so grumpy and angry, and I knew it wasn’t about me. I had just walked in, she didn’t know me. I had smiled, but she was just so grumpy, and I kept thinking it was almost impacting my mood, and I was getting irritated about it. Then I was like, you know what? I don’t know what happened to her before I walked in. I don’t know what made her mood bad, but it’s funny to me how quickly your mood can impact somebody else. And that just made me think of, let’s say someone puts you in a bad mood because your mood, they’re walking slowly or something, and then you go into a restaurant and order food, and maybe you’re a little bit rude to the person taking your order, and that affects their mood. And then that person leaves work and they hear someone chewing gum loudly, and then they get mad sweating the small stuff. That’s what we call that. So, it’s a domino effect, right? With the dominoes, you push one and the rest go down. And that I think can happen when we’re worrying about all the small stuff, but also I think it distracts us from focusing on the things we really need to worry about. As I said, the work analogy, if I’m at work and I have a project, I should be focusing on the project, not focusing on something super small like a friend chewing loudly or letting something small distract me. There are other things that deserve your attention. There are other big problems that deserve your attention. If you’re going through some sort of trial or crisis in another area of your life, you want to make sure you’re dealing with those things and not the small things. Because the truth is, we all have bad days and experience bad moods. It’s going to happen. So, I want to talk about how we can stop this. First, I want to talk about, there’s a great book called, I Think There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon. I may have gotten that wrong, but I love it. So, it starts with a boy who sees a dragon in the corner, and he keeps saying, there’s a dragon here. And the mom doesn’t believe him. And then the dragon keeps getting bigger with each page. The dragon just keeps getting bigger and bigger because nobody addresses the dragon. And so that’s an analogy for like, okay, if we have these little problems and we leave them, then they fester and they get bigger and bigger and bigger. So, I think the important thing to do when we have these really silly annoyances is to stop and think about, kind of acknowledge that you see it, stop and pause, and ask yourself, is this really a big deal? Is this really? Oh, go on.

Ronni: I was going to say, it’s actually interesting that you also read a book that was an analogy to a dragon, because it reminded me, there’s a book that I’ve been reading to my kids called Lucas Tames, the Anger Dragon. So, it’s a little bit more about anger.

Brittany: We have an episode coming up on anger. So, I’m excited.

Ronni: Oh, well, maybe I’ll bring that book up then too. Yes. But it’s very similar to, in the book, Lucas, the main boy is upset because there’s a few things that happened to him. He’s annoyed at his mom’s not paying attention because she’s paying attention to his younger sibling. His dad didn’t want to play with him. His other brother was still asleep, all these different things. And so it shows him turning into this angry dragon, and then his mom comes to talk to him, and his mom is able to help him break it down to, you were frustrated about this, you were feeling sad about this, you were feeling all these different emotions, and then realizing all these different emotions that had built up. You turned that into an angry dragon, but if you can or into the right looking at it is the small stuff he was letting all stuff build up to turn him into a dragon. So, a similar line of thinking, but the dragon analogy works well.

Brittany: I love that so much. Yeah, I think what happens, right? These things get bigger and bigger and bigger. So, yeah. So let’s pause and ask myself, is this really a big deal or not? This is a really funny story, but if I’m in a bad mood when you’re in a public bathroom and I have to pull down a paper towel after you wash your hands, there have been times when I’ve been in a bad mood and I’ll pull down the paper towel and the paper towel will rip, and that’s just the straw that breaks the camera back and I’ll cry or something. But you have to ask yourself, is it really a big deal? Is it really ruining anything big in your life? And I guarantee you the answer is probably no. And then you ask yourself, does this actually impact my life, or is this just a temporary annoyance? And I think this is really helpful for people who have siblings because somebody who had a lot of siblings, I know that it’s easy to get annoyed all the time because they’re going to do things that annoy you, and you’re going to want to do things that annoy them back. But don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s just there so much more bigger things we’re going to have to tackle in life that are going to come our way, that it really doesn’t make sense to ruin a perfectly good day because of something small. One thing I also like to ask myself, and we’ll talk about this in the anger episode as well, but I like to ask myself, have I ever done the thing that I’m getting mad or annoyed with people for?

Ronni: Oh, a good question to ask yourself.

Brittany: Right? And like I said, I’m often the chatty coworker who is distracting people from their jobs at work. So, the answer, I think you’ll be surprised to find that the answer is usually yes. And even though slow walkers are my least favorite thing in the world, I can’t tell you how many times I am texting and walking and I have big old headphones that go over my ears. I’m in my own world. I don’t know what’s going on around me. And so I’m always like, okay, I can’t get annoyed at little things when I’m the person doing the little things. And again, I like to think of this domino effect. I like to think that everything you do and how you treat even yourself can turn into something bigger. So, you let those little things annoy you. And I’ve been saying, it’s just like your whole day is ruined, and then what are you going to do? So, I think that’s a really important tip for life because I think, again, that life is full of so many challenging things, and it’s only going to get worse as you get older. But it’s good to make sure that you’re prepared to deal with those things. And part of that is understanding when something is big and when something is small, so when it’s appropriate. So, we’re going to keep this episode a little bit short, but I want you to take kind of a homework assignment and practice this next time you find yourself getting annoyed over something that seems so small, stop and just ask yourself, is this really worth wasting my energy on? Because I think you’ll find the answer is no. So, we’ll wrap it up there. And as always, don’t forget to like and subscribe to the podcast. And until next time, Ronni, we’ll talk to you later.

Ronni: All right, see you soon.