Smile and the world smiles back at you! Right? Well, not always. Our society has its fair share of scrooges and sourpusses, bigots and bad seeds.
We can’t control how people will treat us in this life. We can’t make them value us or our work. We have no control over whether they will value us or show us respect. And we should never try to force any of these things! We have better things to do than dealing with the shortcomings of those bad eggs we daily encounter. For one, we should be far more concerned, and far busier, about the business of pursuing our dreams and achieving our goals.
We can’t change people or their perceptions. But we CAN control how we’ll respond to their treatment. We can let their stares and suspicious looks, their critical comments and nasty attitudes, penetrate and get under our skin — or we can let it all bounce off our backs as we face new horizons and explore promising opportunities. In other words, we don’t need to spend any precious time or emotional energy on what others are saying. Ignore Negative Nancy, Bobby Bad-mouther, Pessimistic Patty, Jealous Johnny, Debbie Downer, and Arguing Andy.
Nothing can zap your peace and creativity faster than being around these “foul friends” and engaging in their toxic emotions. We can “entertain” thoughts of frustration, anger, unforgiveness, and rejection — and allow such strong emotions to poison us and our prospects; or we can choose to “flip the channel” and get on with more important stuff. Big stuff, not “small stuff”!
In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Dr. Richard Carlson, Ph.D. states: “The first step in becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you’re creating your own emergencies. Life will usually go on if things don’t go according to plan.” Beyond our social interactions, a few of the other things that often tend NOT to go as we planned are our schedules, the weather, the price of gas, the traffic conditions, even the lines at the grocery store. We can’t change these things, so we need to have a victorious attitude concerning them.
Dr. Carlson suggests several tips for a victorious attitude. For instance:
“Life is not an emergency”! We don’t need the added pressure of feeling we must achieve a certain number of things each day. This perception keeps us in a frenzy. So chill! Tomorrow’s another day.
“Refuse to let it bug you”: no matter what someone else says or believes, when you get down to it, it’s JUST their opinion. Should you allow their erroneous, misinformed, or biased opinions to get in your way? Of course not!
“See the innocence”: people are flawed, just like us. They’ve experienced their own hurts and disappointments, and these feelings often come out in their words and actions. Understanding this is another big step toward not being offended.
“Think of your problems as potential teachers”: we can learn something from every “kooky character” we meet, every “sorry circumstance” we find ourselves in. If we allow God to work in us, He will grow peace, patience, love and forgiveness from the dirt of our adversity.
But the best tip we can give you comes from God’s Word: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
Dwell on God’s faithfulness and His goodness, not on your problems and other people. Don’t waste your emotional (and creative) energy fretting over “fouls”; or attempting to fix your friends (or “enemies”)! Concentrate on God’s destiny for your life. Don’t sweat the small stuff — and as Dr. Carlson states, “And it’s all small stuff.”