Let’s take a routine activity. One we often don’t worry about. Someone want to offer one?
Cleaning house? Ok, yes. For some people, house cleaning is very simple and not seemingly stressful. Some find it stress relieving. It is, but for one reason, and we can tap this reason in every stressful situation. When you are cleaning house, does anything seem like a big decision? A world shaking choice?
No. You just clean because it’s part of a routine, or you just like tidiness. The house cleaning, for those who don’t find it stressful, is just routine. A series of little tasks. In Taoism, they say the Sage does no great thing, and yet nothing is left undone. It was said differently in a more contemporary work. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. We often make our problems very big in our minds, and think about a long list of what we supposedly can’t do.
We should break it down when overwhelmed? Well, no. Nothing so cerebral, actually.
Is it bad to also think of other people as having worse problems than you? It can be. It depends on how judging other peoples problems affects you. But at any given time, in any given moment, you take action. You often take the action automatically, and don’t even realize you are because it’s so simple and routine.
So do something, anything? Exactly. The way of not setting yourself against the world is to realize that the thing you think to do, you can do. Is it a big decision? If you are trying to solve problems, very often you unplug from that bigger way, because the bigger way doesn’t have your problems.
Some choices feel bigger than others, like getting married. Ok, and here is the amazing thing. When you see this bigger way I’m speaking of, rather than everything being special or nothing being important, that whole separation disappears. It isn’t real anyway, nothing in your life is meaningless, and the little things are joyous life.
Are you saying everything means something? I am, yes. But everything means something when you get out of assigning it your meaning. When everything means what you decide it does… Well, that’s a very narrow life. To elaborate on if I were getting married, I could think very long and hard on what getting married means to me and get intimidated by the magnitude of the life decision. What would likely happen?
Weddings are really stressful, especially when parents are involved. Ok, yes. That illustrates my point, but if I take it out of that context, see what I’m literally going to do, and not just my meaning but everything that’s going on… Who’s there? What they are going to do? Then where would my stress be? Where is the big thing? There would be a bunch of little things. Little moments of life which is how life comes to you anyway. People complain that joys are fleeting. I think that’s often because they weren’t paying attention and were thinking of big things.
So stress is self imposed by our perception of upcoming events? Yes. At any point in every story, even dramatic life or death situations, everything was, “What is the next obvious thing I can do?” “What can I do now?” Not, “Omg, this is too big and scary! I’m going to die!” If they think that then they do that, and the reason is very simple, is it not?
When you plan, this is good, but limit your planning. The best planners will tell you this. It is amazing what can get done one thing at a time. The world was changed in little moments. Einstein’s thought experiments were just a hobby of his while he was record keeping.
There is one thing to remember about planning. It’s its own limit. When you’re planning, you aren’t saying anything about the world. Your plan has nothing to do with the world. Realize what your plan is. It’s self knowledge. When you’re planning, you’re really talking about yourself. So realize that limit and you won’t delude yourself.
I have found the best times have been when we’ve just let the journey happen with little planning. Life happens while you’re planning something else, and the excessive planner is a narcissist. And well… as they say, the best laid plans of mice and men come to the same ends. The mouse will often be more effective, because it’s really just hungry. It doesn’t have any real delusions. It’s important to pick your battles they say, but in fact, your battles pick you.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.