Don’t dwell on what doesn’t matter

Something on your mind? Have you done or said something that you are highly embarrassed about, but you just cannot forget? Perhaps something has happened that you can’t stop thinking about.

There are many occasions when I’ve done or said something foolish (particularly after a few glasses of wine) that I deeply regretted and worried about for days. Recently, I put something on social media that I immediately regretted. I stressed about it and talked incessantly about it to anyone who’d listen. In the end, guess what happened? – absolutely nothing. Everyone soon forgot about it and it went into the recesses of my memory to become just another blip.

Whatever we focus on grows. I focused for hours on my social media faux pas and then laughed at myself the following week. In fact, I was more cross that I wasted so much time worrying about it. So, if we focus on things that do not really matter we are wasting our time and our focus. These worries are not likely to even exist in a month’s time. We need to bring our attention back to what matters.

I’m fascinated by the human condition and particularly when writers articulate so well an understanding of the world. Baltasar Gracian was writing over 300 years ago, yet he still managed to capture the folly of human nature still relevant to us even today. In his The Art of Worldly Wisdom; A Pocket Oracle, Gracian suggests we leave these trivial worries well alone;

Some take nothing into account, and others want to account for everything. They are always talking importance, always taking things too seriously, turning them into debate and mystery. Few bothersome things are important enough to bother with. It is folly to take to heart what you should turn your back on. Many things that were something are nothing if left alone, and others that were nothing turn into much because we pay attention to them. In the beginning it is easy to put an end to problems, but not later. Sometimes the cure causes the disease. Not the least of life’s rules is to leave well enough alone.

Making a big deal out of something small will turn it into something bigger than it is, and chances are that it’s just not worth worrying about in the first place.

We all do, say or experience something that upsets us, or causes us to worry. But if we leave things for a while, don’t dwell on it and don’t stir things up, whatever it is will just disintegrate and blow away into the ether.

One of my favourite quotes is by Mark Twain. “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”



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