Richard Carlson has written a couple of books which I recommend to everybody who will listen. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Stop Thinking Start Living. I have never been a worrier or an anxious person – in many ways I can be too laid back – but these books further helped shape my outlook on life.
And I think when you become a parent the lessons that are held within these books become even more important, simply because you have so much more to think about, stress about, and prioritise. There are many great tips contained within the book for controlling over-thinking, over-worrying and generally putting life into perspective. but there are 3 that stuck with me and I carry around with me at all times.
- Will this matter in a years time? A question to ask yourself when stressing over (what are generally) relatively minor issues. Most things you worry about now are going to be irrelevant when you look back on them in 12 months time. Put in this context, they aren’t really worth worrying about at all.
- Who do you want at your funeral? and what do you want them to be saying about you? A rather morbid thought in some ways, but useful for prioritising people issues or work/life balance. Its unlikley your boss is going to be making this list. Your family will generally appear. And you probably want them to be saying “he/she was there for me when I needed them” and not “he/she was always at work” or “I didn’t see him/her much”.
- Thoughts are just daytime dreams – a simple concept when you think about it. Just because you are awake doesn’t make your thoughts any more real than dreams. Both are constructs of your imagination which aren’t something that is happening in reality. Treat both the same.
Of course there are instances where situations meet these criteria. I am still not suggesting you spend you life worrying over these larger issues, but at least you will be prioritising your worrying for something that really matters!