The other day I had a nice salad for lunch that included olives. Unbeknownst to me, one of the pitted olives had a small portion of a pit in it. When I chewed on it, I heard a loud crack. I realized then and there that I had broken a tooth. An hour later I was at the dentist’s where he informed me that I had cracked the edge of my tooth right down below the gum line. The immediate result was the extraction of the tooth to be followed by an implant and crown.
I thought about it; that olive with its tiny fragment was going to cost me in the neighborhood of $5,000––more valuable than an ounce of gold. I then started to think of all the things I could do with that money. I could fly overseas; buy my wife a gorgeous ring or a TV and sound system. I was starting to buy into the idiom of “making a mountain out of a molehill”. It then came to me that so many people, especially as they age, do this. They let the little things become so important that they have a life of their own.
As many people age, they lose some of their ability to cope. If the food isn’t cooked just right or the plant is a bit out of place, they may complain and dwell on it as if it has life-changing implications. For some of the elderly getting to appointments can be a major endeavor that takes over one’s life. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for this such as health or mobility issues. At other times it creates stress and tension for no good reason.
There are some strategies that we can devise so that we don’t succumb to being overcome by small things.
1. Look at the benefits
Blowing up a small thing into something gigantic means that you have attached an emotional charge to the situation. The best way to diffuse this is to look at the benefits of what has occurred. You might wonder how could there be benefits to breaking a tooth and needing a $5.000 implant. The key is to find perceived benefits. Let’s try it out:
It’s going to help make the dentist a bit wealthier
The new implant and crown will be considerably stronger than the original tooth
I can use my creativity to determine how to earn extra income to cover the expense
I could receive a lot of sympathy from others
2. Put Things Into Perspective
Sometimes little things do result in big tragic things. I was reminded of a 747 jet that crashed into an apartment building in Amsterdam back in 1992. The cause of the accident was a small bolt that held the engine onto its mounting. As the result of metal fatigue, the bolt failed, the engine tore away from the wing and unluckily, it collided with the other engine on the same side ripping it away from the wing. The result was a loss of total power on one side of the aircraft along with some of the hydraulics.
The aircraft was now doomed. Basically, it rolled uncontrollably and slammed into an apartment block resulting in the death of 47 people.
If we step back, we’ll find that most things that happen to us will be of little importance down the track. Think back to things in your life that you thought were devastating, only to find that years later they had ceased having any meaning.
3. Life is a balance of Positive and Negative
It is great to think positive. However, we must be mindful of one thing. Bad things happen in our lives, no matter how good you are as a person. If there is one thing I am critical of in the positive thinking movement is that it can give people false expectations. Bad things do happen, but how you deal with them is the key.
I have met many positive thinkers who have had all sort of negativity in their lives. Often these people put on the outside shell of positive thinking but on the inside, in their personal lives, there may be all sorts of negativity going on.
The best advice is to stop believing that life is one-sided. The universe doesn’t operate that way. Just as there is: birth and death, lightness and darkness, peace and war; there will always be some negative things happening to balance out the positive things in our lives.
Take these things in stride; accept them and move forward with you life. Most importantly, don’t let the small petty things overwhelm your life.