Daily Herald March 30, 1991
It uses up valuable and scarce energy to get upset with someone or something over little things. Yet, getting upset can be helpful. But get upset about big things in life, not insignificant things. Being upset or angry can motivate you to change what needs to, and can, be changed in your life. Allowing little things to turn into big things is unproductive.
However, what may be insignificant to others may be important to you, and for very good reasons. Others don't have the right to judge what is or isn't significant to you. But to take proper care of yourself, emotionally and physically, you have to recognize when something is or isn't worth getting upset over.
Life isn't perfect. We are bound to become upset at times, in response to what we do or what others do. Being upset isn't relaxing. When you're upset, you put yourself under extra stress. Your body becomes tense. Your pulse increases. Your ability to concentrate on any particular task likely decreases. Your ability to listen to and respond to the needs of others also decreases drastically. If you feel worse, work worse and deal worse with others, what are the advantages of getting upset over things that aren't worth getting upset about
Learn to recognize when an issue isn't important. We may get so used to doing thing one way that we get upset if someone else does it a different way. If the net result is the same, why does it matter?
Husband and wives are usually raised in quite different households. The differences that are important are worth getting upset about. If one party expresses feelings easily and the other doesn't express feelings at all, one or both may need to get upset about this. If one partner suddenly changes his or her ideas about sexual faithfulness, and acts out those ideas, it will quickly lead to someone else being seriously upset.
But does it matter if one spouse was raised to put the toilet paper on the holder so that it hangs down the back, while the other puts the paper so that it hangs down the front? Of course not! Hopefully, they both learn to see this difference more as something to chuckle about than to get upset about. Yet, an insignificant issue can easily become the source of a major argument.
My examples of sexual faithfulness and toilet paper holders are both extremes. Of course something that threatens a relationship needs to be challenged. And, couples don't get ahead if they become wound up arguing about things, which don't really matter. The key is to recognize realistically what is a threat.
In successful living and successful relationships, you recognize the many situations that upset you and those around you, and decide which are important to you or others. You then learn ways to ignore or laugh away those, which aren't worth getting upset about, and to develop strategies to use on those which need to be responded to.