I often listen to the radio while I walk to work, but usually my mind is already in office mode, so by the time I arrive, I have forgotten whatever I was listening to. But last week, Mix 107.3 morning DJ, Bert Weiss, said something that stuck with me. It was only a two-minute sound bite, not a philosophical homily, but its power actually stems from its simplicity. Bert pointed out that what most of us consider “problems,” are really just “inconveniences.”
Think about the most common “problems” we have on a daily basis – a traffic jam, a storm warning, a bounced check, a broken car, a stressful project, a stained shirt, a computer virus, a grumpy boss/spouse, a parking ticket, a lost phone, a sore back, an unexpected houseguest, etc. We label and think of them as “problems,” but they really are just inconveniences. Sure, they are frustrating because they cost us valuable time, money, and sanity. But in the big picture, these nuisances are minor and temporary. Once the car is fixed, shirt is washed, ticket is paid, phone is found …, the disruption is over and we can move on. Many of these inconveniences do not even require any action on our part besides patience – the highway will clear, the boss will (hopefully) cheer up, the guest will leave, and the storm will pass.
I realize that this is merely a variation on “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Still, it is a helpful tool for maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Since hearing the Bert Show last week, when I start to stress about an outstanding bill, or to whine about being exhausted, or to nag my husband about leaving dirty dishes in the sink all night, or to feel sorry for myself for being too busy to take a lunch break, or to wish the baby would stop crying – I remind myself that these inconveniences will pass. Then I find peace and joy in knowing I live a very problem-free life! [insert hippie music here]
Of course, there are still plenty of problems in the world, and some are bound to befall me from time to time. [cue doomsday music] If my son got a serious illness or injury, or if I lost my job, or if my husband had an affair – those would be problems, and I would devote all of my resources to doing what needed to be done to address them. I believe that identifying the issues that demand and deserve such attention, and distinguishing them from the other inconveniences that usually sap my resources, will enable me to be a happier when I am not facing any problems and more effective in resolving those that arise. Easier said than done, I’m sure, but it’s worth a try!