I think about this list often, especially when I feel like I am maybe spinning a bit too hard on something that I should not be giving that much energy to. Perspective. Big picture. The long term. We have all heard the phrase “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” and while I absolutely agree to it’s truth, it is only through perspective that we actually are able to determine what qualifies as the small stuff. I have decided that the “small stuff” is pretty much anything that does not involve my health or my protection from the elements. Do I always not sweat the small the stuff? Of course not. But as I reevaluate my day or look closer at the things that are bothering me, I do put them in the correct category and move on.
The deal is, people are going to cut you off in traffic and you are going to have less-than-favorable interactions at work. It is more important that you get to your destination than prove to the other driver that you are right and they are wrong and the very worst thing that can happen at work, the very worst, is that your boss can fire you. They can’t kill you. Other jobs come along, there are very few people that are fortunate enough to stay with the same employer for their lifetime.
So, while this list is written for a young girl, it is still about recognizing priorities and perspective and keeping what really matters to you mattering and the rest will just slide away.
In 1933, renowned author F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter, Scottie, with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows.
(Source: F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Life in Letters; Image: F. Scott Fitzgerald with his daughter, Scottie, in 1924.)
Things to worry about:
- Worry about courage
- Worry about cleanliness
- Worry about efficiency
- Worry about horsemanship
Things not to worry about:
- Don’t worry about popular opinion
- Don’t worry about dolls
- Don’t worry about the past
- Don’t worry about the future
- Don’t worry about growing up
- Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
- Don’t worry about triumph
- Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
- Don’t worry about mosquitoes
- Don’t worry about flies
- Don’t worry about insects in general
- Don’t worry about parents
- Don’t worry about boys
- Don’t worry about disappointments
- Don’t worry about pleasures
- Don’t worry about satisfactions
Things to think about:
- What am I really aiming at?
- How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
- (a) Scholarship
- (b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
- (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?
With dearest love,