Do you want to know how to keep from getting upset? That is a question I have asked myself countless times. This is what I’ve learned about letting go of the small stuff in order to fully enjoy the present moment. Do you want to know how to keep from getting upset? That is a question I have asked myself countless times. What I’ve discovered about letting go of the trivial in order to fully appreciate the present moment is as described below so that you can stop worrying and start living.
Have you ever been going about your day, feeling pretty good, when suddenly… a tiny, insignificant stumbling block comes across your path, ruining your outlook and your day?
What exactly do I mean?
I’m referring to those times when you realize you’ve forgotten something crucial, like milk for your coffee, or when someone cuts you off in traffic, or when there’s a fifteen-minute line at the post office.
It’s when they forget to thank you, or when they leave their wet laundry out, or when they don’t like your taste in movies.
It’s the feeling you get when you discover someone ate all the ice cream or when your breakfast eggs burn. On the other hand, it can be annoying when a coworker sends you email after email asking you to tell them where to find a certain file.
I used to get really worked up about silly little things, but now I realize… I’ve learned the hard way that acting irrationally only makes things more difficult for me. Over time, I’ve come to realize that there’s a more efficient alternative. Here are my best recommendations for staying level-headed under pressure.
Learning to Let Things Go: A Guide to Keeping Your Cool
In case you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why do I let things bother me so much?” the answer is right here.
If you are currently experiencing feelings of anger or frustration and need to calm down, there are actions you can take. These are helpful suggestions, and in a second I’ll offer some of my own.
In the end, though, these suggestions are only a temporary fix. Anger, frustration, and irritation are not good for you, and if you want to get rid of them, you need to look at your mind and inner self to find out where they come from. If you don’t let things bother you, you won’t need to train yourself to relax.
First, though, I want to share some of the more concrete suggestions that have helped me feel less anxious in the first place.
4 Lessons in Resilience: Simple Methods to Stop Worrying So Much
1. Fight the urge to complain
I know it’s easier said than done, but I’ve found that the quickest way to stop something from bothering you is to stop complaining about it.
While I agree with the sentiment that one should “get things off their chest,” my personal experience has shown that doing so only serves to exacerbate the problem at hand. You’re making a bigger deal out of the situation than it is.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is extremely difficult for me, but I’ve learned the hard way that complaining is pointless.
It’s almost automatic, and when I do it on purpose, it’s usually a case of being lazy in conversation. Although I have to constantly remind myself not to do it, I am getting better at breaking the habit.
It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile. I’ve found that when I make a conscious decision to stop complaining, I not only feel better, but I also hopefully have a better effect on the people around me.
Keeping a journal can be a healthy alternative to venting your frustrations when you’re going through tough times. Writing about my emotions helps me work through them and move on with more dignity. Here are a few pointers to help you get started with your journal if you’re new to the practice. Alternatively, you could try some of these self-care journals prompts when things get rough.
2. Adjust your focus
When I’m feeling run down, tired, or worse, hungry, I tend to read too much into things. I find that when I’m not feeling well, it’s easy for me to misinterpret the meaning of other people’s words and actions.
Rather than saying, “I’m upset because someone ate the last cookie without offering me one,” you might say, “I’m upset because no one here thinks about my feelings.”
The reality is probably closer to “Everyone is just really, really hungry and likes cookies,” but sometimes the truth is hard to see, and to be honest, it doesn’t always matter.
You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it, so don’t beat yourself up over being denied a cookie. Things aren’t always going to go your way, but the less you let them get to you, the better off you’ll be.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend yourself when necessary; rather, it means you should pick your battles carefully, or at the very least, ensure that there is something worth defending before you get involved.
Looking at the “big picture” can make you feel overwhelmed, so looking at the “little picture” can help. If you feel yourself getting upset, take a moment to think about what’s making you upset and try to boil it down to its most basic parts. For example:
- … Use this instead of “The service in this restaurant is terrible!” (Righteous indignation!)
- ->> Try “I was disappointed that the waitress did not refill my coffee.” (It’s really not that important)
- … As an alternative to “No one here values my time” (Concealed sobbing at your desk)
- ->> Try “I’m upset because he did not respond to a question I posed in an email.” (Poor attention to detail is forgivable at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday)
When you choose to concentrate on the details, you choose not to let minor issues disrupt your day. Instead, put that energy toward finding an upside in the adventure.
3. Choose empathy and concentrate on humanity
The next time you feel yourself getting aggravated by another person, whether it’s a loved one or a coworker you barely know, remind yourself of their humanity and make a conscious decision to feel compassion instead.
Let’s face it: getting irritated with other people is a natural human emotion, but it never feels good. Your justifications vary in quality from time to time. Regardless, it’s usually best to just let things go and move on, and doing so can be facilitated by giving the offending party some humanizing thoughts.
Please visit one of my favorite websites, the Humans of New York Facebook page, if you don’t understand what I’m talking about.
Since it has amassed over 15 million followers, it’s safe to assume that you’re already familiar with it. Because the creator exposes the humanity (the past, the pain, the inner thoughts) of the people he photographs, it has gained massive popularity.
As I’ve learned from this page, knowing someone’s backstory makes us more empathetic.
This information can help us be kinder in our daily interactions. The next time someone annoys you, instead of dwelling on their actions, try to picture what they might be going through.
Think about how John in accounting always holds the door for you, or how the woman in front of you in the grocery store line is speaking softly to her daughter if you don’t know her very well, and you’ll have an idea of the kind of person she is.
These examples are gentle reminders that the person you are mad at is a person with feelings and problems like yours.
Add to Your Reading List: add Brandon Stanton’s Stories Humans of New York
4. Let go of your expectations
In my mind, I often have a mental picture of how I want my day to unfold. I picture myself arriving at work early, making a nice hot cup of coffee, and having a fantastically productive morning. (Doesn’t that sound fantastic?!)
But, in reality, life happens: I can’t find my keys and I’m running late. Then I go to make my coffee… and there’s no milk. When I finally get to my desk and open my inbox, I’m inundated with emails, and the time is 10 a.m. when I look up.
My morning is half over, I haven’t had any coffee, and I haven’t completed anything on my to-do list.
It’s very easy to dismiss the day as a “bad day” at this point because when you have high expectations for how things will turn out, it’s disappointing when things don’t go as planned. But the truth is that your expectations frequently obscure the reality of the situation.
If you can let go of your expectations and keep an open mind, you’ll notice that, while the day has started slowly, it’s far from over. There is still time to change direction and turn things around.
If you find yourself getting frustrated or annoyed over something small, stop for a moment and think about how your expectations might be affecting your experience.
The Art of Keeping Your Cool Under Pressure
When I start getting worked up over nothing, I remember the aforementioned strategies, and it helps me relax. But I’d like to talk about a few things that have helped me feel less agitated and upset overall.
Because here’s the thing: if minor irritations are piling up, it’s probably an indicator of more serious problems. What is it about you that makes you so prone to anger?
This isn’t always a simple question to address, but the payoff is substantial if you put in the effort to discover and understand your true emotions. You’re less stressed and have a more positive outlook on life.
Here are some of the areas of my own life where I’ve had to put in the extra effort. This is by no means an extensive list, but it should serve as a guide.
Not taking care of yourself
That’s why this is crucial. When I don’t take care of myself, I start to feel irritated by the smallest things. I am exhausted, grumpy, and irritable, and I project these feelings onto those around me.
The best course of action, if you can relate, is to take precautions. If you start taking care of yourself before you’re completely exhausted, you won’t have to deal with the frustration of having everything grate on your nerves.
If you aren’t sure where to start with self-care, here are some choices to consider:
- If the thought of self-care makes you feel overwhelmed and you’re not sure how you’ll find the time to implement it, check out these practical self-care suggestions.
- Here are five suggestions for keeping a journal as a form of self-care. Writing in a journal has made a profound difference in my life, and I urge everyone to try it if they haven’t already.
- My absolute favorite method of self-care is this journal. Allowing the past to go will help you move forward with dignity.
A few years ago, I began to question why I get so worked up so quickly. There was always something bothering me, and I couldn’t place my finger on it. Since this was a source of frustration, I had to pay more attention… I’ve noticed a peculiarity, too.
My anger and frustration with myself usually spill over into my interactions with other people. I was easily triggered, so everything was bothersome.
If this rings true for you, practicing self-love is the path forward. We’ll give you a few pointers on how to get moving in the right direction:
- Do not waste time comparing yourself to others.
- If you’re looking for ways to love yourself, you should read this.
- Here are a few gentle reminders for when life gets hard.
- A few inspiring words for when things get rough.
Include this on Your Reading List: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff
It’s easy to feel as though walls are closing in when your life is chaotic and disorganized. When you’re already feeling frazzled and overloaded, even a minor setback can feel insurmountable.
You might want to try simplifying your life if this hits a little too close to home. As a former shopaholic who has since embraced minimalism, I can attest to the liberating effects of letting go.
See what happens when you declutter your life on all fronts. With more breathing room in your life, I’m almost positive you’ll be better able to deal with the inevitable irritations that crop up.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of minimalist living, I’ve compiled some of my most useful starting points on starting to be minimalist. (It is NOT about purging your home of all its possessions. Instead, focus on arranging your belongings in such a way that they benefit your life. Here is a compilation of the best decluttering advice I have for your home and life.
Include this on Your Reading List: Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki. Beautiful and accepting, this book will help you simplify your life without judging you.
Related Post: 7 Inspiring Books on Minimalism + Simple Living
Put the past in the past.
The answer to the question “why do I let things bother me so much?” is probably to be found in your past. Perhaps you need to forgive yourself or someone else for an offense you feel still lingers in your heart.
Even though you try to bury this old hurt, it keeps resurfacing at inopportune moments, such as when you have to wait a while for your coffee or someone makes a passing remark that reminds you of the past.
Your inability to find contentment in the here and now is a symptom of a deeper issue that needs addressing before you can stop letting the little things get to you. To start your journey, check out this guide to letting go of the past and finding peace.
Take advantage of every moment in life.
Finally, I want to tell you to stop worrying and start enjoying a FULL life. I realize that statement is overused, but it holds true for me.
In other words, you should stop waiting for the weekend to start appreciating life and all its glory. The more you do this, the less time you’ll waste worrying about trivia.
Some suggestions to get going:
- Focus on what matters most to you and create your own recipe for success
- Embrace a philosophy of intentional living; simply stop aimlessly drifting through life and begin living on purpose.
- Start being intentional with your thoughts, and keep in mind that the clearer you are about the things that matter to you, the less you’ll be bothered by the things that don’t.
- Develop your sense of worth… When you are confident in who you are, you will not let the opinions of others (or your perception of their opinions) affect you.
Add to Your Reading List: Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Dr Susan David. This book changed my life, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Slowly but surely, I’m learning to let go of the things that don’t matter, and I’m confident that you will, too, in time. Be kind to yourself and take things day by day; we’ve got this!
How do you cope when little things begin to bother you? I’d love to hear any of your ideas, or if any of these methods have helped you, please let me know. Please tell me in the comments!