When is the last time you allowed yourself to get upset by something that doesn’t really matter at all? When was the last time you allowed yourself to be distracted by something that is irrelevant? Chances are those situations occurred for you recently. Many of us are prone to letting the little things bother us to the point where our lives feel interrupted and even controlled by minor details. Worse, your goals and ambitions can come to a halt because you allow these things that don’t matter to have too much control in your life. You can easily let the things that don’t matter at all ruin your day, week or even the next few years of your life.
Below are some things that you might think matter but actually don’t. Keep reminding yourself of these things throughout your life. It can be easy to let something small take up too much of your time and energy.
1. The little failures. Failures happen to everyone and are often necessary to succeed. It’s okay if you feel initially embarrassed by a failure but don’t let this failure ruin your attitude and definitely not your dreams! Imagine if you let this one little failure, that you likely will not remember years from now, get in the way of your success. Again, it’s okay to feel disappointed by a failure but keep moving forward. Learn from your failures and remember that the most successful people have failed many times.
2. Needing to make a big difference. One of the life lessons I have learned over the years, is how important any act of kindness can be. Many of us get trapped in this notion that our actions don’t make a significant impact unless we have a huge direct influence. You might devalue how important the actions you take are because you don’t see hundreds or even thousands of people directly being influenced. Take a step back and remember that there is something beautiful about taking things slow and seeing the efforts of your work evolve gradually and effectively.
3. Making too many plans. I used to be guilty of filling my life with way too many plans. I would have work, exercise, classes a couple of days after work, catch ups with friends and trying to fit too many people, hobbies and priorities into a 24-hour day. Fortunately, I could take a step back and realize that I was fitting in too many things that weren’t all that important and not leaving space for the things that were life-changing. Make room for things to happen unplanned. Allow space for spontaneity, relaxation and reflection.
4. Being too confident. You might be reading this and wondering how having confidence can be a bad thing? Confidence certainly has its perks but confidence is best when you have the expertise, knowledge and experience to back it up. Who would you rather hire? The writer who has never written one thing but is confident that he will be successful or the writer who has written articles, has a rough draft of chapters for a book, is actively developing his portfolio and is also confident. The answer should be clear. Being too confident, too early, can work against you. It’s good to have a bit of confidence but to treat each experience as something that builds your confidence. And please do not use confidence as a prerequisite to try anything new. It’s okay to feel uncertainty before stepping into something new. Being confident is a great attribute to have but it’s not necessary when embarking on a new job, relationship or relocating. And remember that too much confidence can hurt you. Enjoy the journey and build your confidence over time.
5. Being underestimated, bullied or devalued. There will be people in life who don’t like you or just want to make your life hard for no reason. These people might bully you and will act maliciously towards you. Some people will take your love for granted. Others will enjoy the benefits of your hard work but do little, if anything, to reward you for your hard work and loyalty. This is a horrible feeling and often you know you’ve done nothing wrong, and even tried to have a positive relationship with this person, but they do nothing but treat you poorly and take you for granted. I know how horrible being bullied can be, but try to not let this matter to you right now. Keep taking steps forward and building up your self-confidence. Get away from the situation, if possible. End a toxic relationship, switch jobs, go out of your way to avoid people who hurt you and so forth. The best thing you can do is focus on you and keep going!
6. Seeking approval from others. As the years pass, you will accept that having approval from others all the time is futile. There will be people who actively support you and others who will not agree with your decisions. There’s not much you can do to change their opinions nor should you try to change their opinions. What truly matters is that you believe in your heart that you are doing the right thing and making the best decision at this moment.
7. Living up to unrealistic expectations. The moment you are born there will be expectations from someone, at some point, as to how you should live your life. These expectations may come from your family, friends, partner and yourself. It’s okay to have reasonable expectations for yourself and for your family to be excited about how you will live your life, but your life is your own. You are in control of your own life and whichever road you take is something only you discover and experience on your own time. Keep your expectations realistic and be open to the possibilities.
8. Making others live up to your expectations. Judging others is a complete waste of time. Nobody is perfect and everyone will make a mistake. I bet you can think of an example where someone you know got so angry at someone and called them harsh words like a “loser” or a “mess up” because they made a simple human mistake. You can see this happen in the road, at the store, at work or in your family. People do and will make mistakes. Allowing yourself to get angry and judge someone for those mistakes is a waste of energy and time. Instead use that energy to re-channel it into kindness and understanding.
9. Societal norms. Society is always changing and norms vary depending on which continent and country you live in. Your city might have a different societal norm than the regional town a few hours’ drive away. My point is that you should live your life based on your own reasoning. Form your own conclusions, do your own research and be open to changing your perspective. I remember back in college I met someone who openly admitted that he used to be racist. He was raised in a family that had racist beliefs and his cohort shared these views as well. Going to college changed his views completely. Imagine if he had continued to just be racist even though his own experiences, knowledge and people he met challenged those beliefs? See what makes sense to you and live your life according to that.
10. Holding onto bitterness. Bitterness never benefits you. There is not one good thing that comes out of being bitter. Holding onto bitterness just keeps you focusing on the past, negative things occurring around you and makes your life focus on petty events that shouldn’t matter. Do yourself a favour and let go of the bitterness. Work on forgiving others for their mistakes and choices, as well as forgiving yourself for holding onto the bitterness for far too long. Let go, move forward and enjoy the happy and positive moments right in front of you.
11. Having more possessions. Things do not make you happy. A new car will not add value to your life. A huge television will not increase happiness in your life. You might believe that your value and self-worth is tied up into your possessions. The reality is that outside of the immediate short-term excitement you get when purchasing something new, the majority of what you buy will most likely end up forgotten somewhere in your garage or other storage area. Also, realistically, nobody cares that you have a new car or bought the latest model of a smartphone. You might be surprised by how much people don’t care about what you drive or what you own. Recognize the negative implications of being a consumer so that you don’t allow possessions to rule your life or ruin your financial independence. Striving to own the latest possessions cuts a hole in your income, adds little value to your life and creates an unhealthy dependency on things.
12. Chasing money. Having financial freedom is great and it’s normal and healthy to want to accumulate money to provide yourself and your family with the basic things that they need. However, chasing after money can create an unhealthy dynamic where you feel consistently unhappy with what you earn, always need more money and for little reason, and end up sacrificing your time, loved ones and things important to you just to have to more money. Focusing too much on making more money can destroy your relationships and make you miserable in the process.
13. Using your age as an excuse to not pursue your interests and dreams. You probably have friends and family who groan about their age. It’s too late to start a new career because you are a certain age. Having a family is out of the question right now because I’m this age. I should have studied this topic when I was 18 but since I didn’t, I have now wasted my life because I’m this age and it’s too late to go to school. As cliché as it sounds, your age is just a number. You can start a career at any age, prioritize marriage and family at a certain age and embark on a new exciting journey at any age. There’s no rule book saying you have had to accomplish everything you wanted by a certain age to be successful and happy. Real life examples show us that people do great things at any age. Your age isn’t the thing that should be stopping you, so stop using your age as an excuse. The quicker you ditch judging yourself by your age, the more satisfied you will be with your life.
14. Allowing yourself to be involved with dramatic people. Running into drama is inevitable but allowing drama to thrive in your life is completely dependent on you. I learned long ago that dramatic people rarely change and they will always look to you as a source for comfort, normalcy and an emotional punching bag. Save yourself the emotional energy by walking away from dramatic situations and anyone who always needs your sympathy. I realize that you might be prone to wanting to save people or thinking that if you just provide more support, that these people will change. Realistically, people can only change on their own. As much as you want to help, realize that you are hurting yourself by continuing to stay involved with dramatic people.
15. When you feel the world owes you something. A feeling of entitlement can only hurt you. You will always be in this cycle of believing that you deserve something just because of who you are and what you have been through. Instead of focusing on what actions you can take to improve your situation, you spend too much time being upset at the world and life for not granting you what you believe you deserve. Entitlement does nothing but hurt you, so let go of those negative beliefs. Realize that if you want something you need to change your actions so that you are more likely to get it.
16. Physical beauty. People spend tons of money and time into trying to be physically beautiful. Unfortunately, all this energy into vanity rarely pays of and people still feel unhappy because they neglected their inner self. As you age, you will realize that physical beauty doesn’t matter. What does matter is how you feel about yourself and who you are as a person.
17. Being the victim. When something bad happens, you might be prone to blaming everyone else but yourself. The victim mindset doesn’t change your situation at all. If anything, blaming others just makes you miserable and feel like nothing is in your control. Instead of using this time to fix your situation, you point fingers and make excuses. Learn to take responsibility for your own life You will be much happier and satisfied with life when you take accountability for your life.
Try to not let these inconsequential things get in the way of your joy and happiness. Right now, this small thing that seems to matter doesn’t actually matter. In a few years’ time, or even in less time, you will realize how unimportant these little things matter in your life. Trust in who you are every step up of the way and give generously in all areas of our life. Give yourself permission to be happy, generous and kind.