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Sweat the Small Stuff

Image by Linus Schütz from Pixabay

Image by Linus Schütz from Pixabay

Years ago, I had a friend named John. I think he moved. One time he told me about a funeral he had attended, his uncle’s, I think. I remember John saying it was a big funeral as his uncle had a lot of friends. Then John said this, “My uncle’s life mantra was ‘don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.'”
Now on the one hand Uncle was probably right. We can get ourselves all caught up in the details and miss the point of life. We can, and often do, take ourselves way too seriously.
On the other hand, I have come to believe Uncle was probably equally wrong. The implication of Uncle’s mantra is, that nothing is all that important. Well, some things are important, and thinking everything is not worth sweating is rather fatalistic. I think it breeds an eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die mentality. This can be destructive.
I didn’t know Uncle personally, but knowing his fatalistic nephew, I think maybe we should modify Uncle’s wisdom.
Let’s try this.
“Don’t sweat the big stuff. Rather, sweat the small stuff because the big stuff is really just a bunch of small stuff rolled into one thing.”
Stop trying to hit a homer, rather, focus on getting a base hit.
I think where people get into trouble making progress in their lives, is their inability to break change down into small enough bites. We want to eat the whole elephant. We want to do the big thing. We want fabulous, dramatic results. More often than not though, going big is a recipe for losing. Small, consistent, non-exciting, non-sexy, steps repeated over time, makes change.
People who are successful at any endeavor, health, fitness, relationships, sleep, finances, spiritual issues, whatever, do so with small smart steps repeated over and over and over. And then they do it some more. It really is a very simple and occasionally boring route. But very powerful. Facebook isn’t interested in your small steady change. But I am.
So, if you want to win, sweat the small stuff. And the smaller the better. Break it down until you barely notice you are changing.
If you want to lose weight, start small. Skip a meal once a week. Do this for a few weeks.
If you want to run a marathon. Walk around the block every day for a few weeks.
If you want spiritual growth, read your scriptures for a few minutes every day.
If you want a million bucks, start saving a few bucks each week.
None of these steps will get you there, they are only a small start. But if you take the next step, like skipping two meals a week, walk around the block twice, read scripture for 10 minutes a day, invest your few bucks wisely, at least you have a chance of making progress.
Over the next few months, we will be giving you some small things you can sweat. We will also be warning about small things you should not sweat. Not everything is worth sweating.
I recently read about a guy who bought stock in Amazon for $3 a share in 1997. Last I checked, it was close to $2000 a share. Small becomes big. Sweat it.
I want those kinds of returns in my life.
How about you?
Sweat the small stuff.

6 Join the Conversation

  1. JudyLynn says
    Jan 17, 2020 at 4:34 PM

    Awesome advice!

    • says
      Jan 17, 2020 at 3:24 PM

      Thanks, JL!

  2. Carla J Gardiner says
    Jan 17, 2020 at 4:42 PM

    Awesome article and advice. I started some small things...5 minute arm exercises...that tone my core, arms and back...this year I'm eliminating the granny swing

    • says
      Jan 17, 2020 at 3:25 PM

      Good job, Carla!

  3. Rebecca Press says
    Jan 20, 2020 at 1:11 AM

    Dr. Swaim, Good article. Thank you for the reminder! I read an article a few years ago that stated when we start to feel insignificant or feel like we are not making a difference, remember: What if significance is, or doing something important is, being the best wife, husband, father, mother, friend you can be. It is not doing the "big" things per society's definition, but caring about and helping people. It is calling someone and saying I care about you, I am thinking about you, praying for you. It's about helping a senior citizen by opening a door for them; helping someone put their groceries in their vehicle, picking up something on the ground someone dropped. Letting someone go ahead of you at the checkout when they only have one or two items to purchase. It's about getting our noses out of our phones, and saying "hi" or smiling at someone when you pass them in a business or on the street. If we realized how that could change someone's day or life, I think we would make more of an effort. How do you change lives - one heart at a time, one small act of kindness.

    • says
      Jan 21, 2020 at 10:56 AM

      Well put Rebecca. I concur completely with your specific reminders of all the small things that can make a world of difference in the lives of others and consequently our own lives. It's the small stuff that makes the world a better place and makes us, individuals, healthier people. Thanks for your thoughtful words. Keep up the small stuff!

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