I had this dear friend years ago in Calgary who, when we met, was going through a divorce.
Sam was one of those people who just made you feel good being around them, and had a way about speaking deep truth with a combination of sharp wit and bittersweet poetry.
I’ll never forget what he said when I asked him why he was getting divorced. He said, “Tina, people don’t get divorced because of one big thing that happened. It’s all the little things that add up to be so big that you finally end up getting divorced because of the way your partner eats their Cornflakes.”
I was stunned. How does someone get divorced over Cornflakes?
But isn’t it always the little things that create the bomb?
The one too many times being asked what you are going to do, when you don’t know what you’re going to do. The one extra thing on your To-Do list that brings you to overwhelm. The too many times they said they would call, and then didn’t. The dishes left in the sink after coming home from a long day. The pants that finally really don’t fit, and you can no longer pretend you haven’t put on weight. The fussy copy machine that suddenly brings you to tears.
All of it has become too much and too big to handle.
It’s like you keep chucking all the hurts together into one big hurt pile that is so big, smelly, and wide, that you can’t see any way around it, and all you want to do is run away from it or do something drastic.
Just like it’s the small things that create the BIG problem. It’s the small things that also create a great life.
When my husband Dave and I first met, I had this vision of us building a castle with our love. (Did I mention I’m a romantic?)
Every kindness, every phone call, every bittersweet good bye (we did long distance for a year) was like a brick building the foundation for our life together. The more love-bricks we had, the more solid our castle would be to endure the tests of time.
Castles are also fortresses: they protect what we hold dear, and keep out unwanted invaders.
Castles require a lot of maintenance to patch the holes and build new towers to keep it strong and beautiful, so it’s important to create new bricks daily. I also use this metaphor for how I live my life. I create love-bricks by how I choose to live everyday.
So before you end up wanting to end your relationship because of Cornflakes.
Or quit your job because the copy machine is fussy, or want to run away from your life because it’s become too much to handle, try this and start building yourself a huge love-filled-joy-castle that you can lean into as support when things are challenging.
- Flip it.
This is a game I learned from one of my sweet friends and fellow Soul Strategizer. When something looks challenging, or upsetting: flip it. Look to find the good in the situation. Being able to change your outlook is one of the most powerful things you can learn how to do to change your life.
- Practice Gratitude.
I teach gratitude in every single yoga class because it is a scientifically proven way to rewire your brain to be happier. The point of gratitude is not to make sure you are really grateful for a few things, it’s to teach your brain to start looking for the little wonderful things in the moment. Each time you do that, you are reminded how lucky you, are and how good your life is.
Decide what’s really important to you and practice integrity with it every single day. If health is important to you, then make healthy meal choices, get enough sleep, and move every day. If your partnership is important make time to actually hear your partner and connect with them meaningfully every day. If joy is important to you, then do things that make you feel joyous every day. It will feel like effort in the beginning, but eventually it will just be what you do and how you live. It’s totally worth a little bit of effort now to make the rest of your life great.
- Create Positive Memories.
Get out and DO stuff! Go outside, meet people, listen to music, learn a new instrument, feel the wind on your skin, volunteer. My favorite memories this summer are walking my puppy Walter with my husband in the evenings. It’s time that we are guaranteed outside together and we have wonderful conversations as we try to teach our puppy to walk in the evening breeze. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you aren’t in front of a screen. Not because I have a problem with screens, I have a problem with the way we check out when we are in front of them, and most of us are in front of them A LOT. Your life is lived, not watched.
You, my friend, are a powerful being. You have the power to create anything that you want for your life, it just takes action. Every day you are creating your life, consciously or not, you are building your castle. So you might as well build it beautifully on purpose so you can aim for what you want and get closer to getting there.
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I’d love to hear from you now! How do you protect yourself from the little things that can bring you down? I’d love to hear your insights below.