Don’t sweat the ‘small stuff’

The dictionary defines disaster as a “damaging or destructive event—an event that causes serious loss, destruction, hardship, unhappiness, or death.”
According to that definition, I didn’t have a major disaster last week, but I surely had a minor disaster.
Last Saturday evening, I went to my computer to play my usual two rubbers of bridge before going to bed—and nothing! The screen was as dark as midnight.
I turned off the computer and started it again several times. The computer chugged a little bit and was quiet. Then, I turned off the screen and turned it on several times, and there was a funny clicking noise.
But again—nothing.
Immediately, I remembered two suspect e-mails three or four days ago, and foolishly I had opened one. I closed it quickly, but that nasty virus must have done its dastardly work.
And worse yet, I had been too busy recently to back up my data and run my anti-virus program.
In my mind’s eye, I saw the loss of 600 “This side of 60” columns I have written in the last 11-and-a-half years, the database of the papers that carry the column, my calendar, and my address/phone book.
All forms—invoices, letterhead, and envelopes. Ten years’ worth of speeches. Letters. Faxes and column input. And worst of all, my whole year’s accounts just before it’s time to file income tax.
No wonder I panicked.
The next morning, I had my son plug in another monitor, knowing it wouldn’t work. But miracle of miracles, the computer came on!
Immediately, I backed up all of my files and ran the anti-virus program. Fortunately, no files were infected. And I printed out my e-mail addresses.
With that done, I heaved a sigh of relief. My worst fears were unfounded.
That’s often the way it is. “Without question, many of us have mastered the neurotic art of spending much of our lives worrying about a variety of things all at once,” says Richard Carlson, author of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”
Just think how much simpler your life would be if you would free up your mind from worry and anxiety. If you would assume the best instead of the worst until you know the difference.
Carlson says we get into a habit of overreacting when we encounter adversity. We blow things out of proportion and later find out our fears were groundless.
“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” has 100 simple tips of how to keep things in perspective. One helpful chapter is titled “Be Aware of the Snowball Effect of Your Thinking.”
Just consider how quickly your negative thinking can spin out of control—from a blank computer screen to weeks of work to reconstruct your files.
The “snowball effect” also applies to our busy-ness, especially in this busy holiday season. We try to do everything and we get caught up in minutiae, “the small stuff,” and never get around to doing what makes us or our loved ones happy.
“The solution,” says Carlson, “is to notice what’s happening in your head before your thoughts have a chance to build any momentum.”
So this holiday season, don’t let the “small stuff” interfere with your fun and laughter.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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