Posted by: Judy | February 25, 2015

Sweat the small stuff…

Evan Sanders, over at his blog The Better Man Project, said what I’ve been thinking lately but hadn’t articulated completely, not even to myself:


Because it flies in the face of one of the biggest bits of advice:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” The quote goes on to say, “It’s all small stuff.”

Evan’s rewrite: “Sweat the small stuff…the small stuff is what ends up making the big things work.”

I suppose this qualifies as a meme debunking, but I prefer to think of it as a Game Changer.

The first quote directly contradicts the cliche “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” I’ve proven this one true, repeatedly. I handle the massive crises without a qualm. When I fell, again, I screamed because of the pain but I didn’t cry. Well, I did for a moment because I knew it was expected. In truth, I was frustrated beyond words. Tears were a good outlet. Then I stopped because it wasn’t helping and certainly wasn’t getting me off the floor. By the way, no audience except a dog. Good dog was very patient for me. Anyway, I worried and fretted until I was certain I hadn’t broken anything. I know what to do with a sprain.

What the first quote does is make the “small stuff” absolutely terrifying. If it’s all small stuff, then I’m being beaten by small stuff. It invalidates and marginalizes the slights, the belittling, the unwanted brush of the hand…

Pretending like the small stuff doesn’t matter flies in the face of the vital importance of the small stuff. It’s the small stuff that builds simple routines. We cheer and celebrate taking those baby steps, but at the same time dismiss their value… their worth.

We so often feel like we’re the small stuff, unimportant, unnoticed, unworthy of time or effort, let alone blood and sweat.

Granted, there are a lot of little things that are best let go and left behind. However, sometimes it’s those little things, the small stuff, that are the necessary key to open locks to understanding why some land mines explode one day but not another.

I think I’ll take Evan’s definition: “Sweat the small stuff…the small stuff is what ends up making the big things work.”


  1. Love this post! I hadn’t realized how the first quote really does create fear and I appreciate Evan’s and your take on it. I feel like I look at the small stuff all the time, I’m often labeled a ‘detail oriented person’ (but in a negative connotation). Your point about how it can deter you from letting go, I agree it can, like a lot of other stuff. But seeing how small stuff adds up is incredibly helpful. It makes it seem manageable and that I can get through one day. I have so many thoughts from this and I find your thoughts really inspiring and made me feel a little less ‘ashamed’ of my detail orientedness. Thank you. xx

    • As I read your response, I wondered, “Who decides if it’s small stuff?” NM used the first quote to control me; I wasn’t allowed to be upset about anything because “it’s all small stuff.” The keystone in an arch is relatively small, but without it the arch collapses. It’s the detail-oriented people who generally pick out why something that looks like it should work but doesn’t. When selling a house a relator doesn’t brag about the obvious walls and roof; they draw your attention to the little details, like the gliding drawers, the fireplace, the bay window, the potential to add your own personal touch to make it yours. The little things. Two donuts sit on the counter; do you want the one that’s obviously been poked or the one that hasn’t? It’s just a little dent… The small stuff matters. My job is to learn how to prioritize, which what really decides what’s let go and what I focus on for change.

      • “Who decides if it’s small stuff?” Yes! Precisely! Great post Judy. I thoroughly agree. xx

        • 🙂

          • Yes! “Who decides the small stuff?” It is a way to control, marginalizing it. I find that today I have to battle that voice that does it all by itself. Because of such a reaction, I often have to look at it as evidence (like a detective), almost a mathematical way because if I don’t, then the voice will win. xx

            • The voice was carefully trained, and we are working to carefully change. Acknowledging our own perspective and not marginalizing is a huge step. Go us!

  2. Great post! Plus, when you break things into its smaller parts, it’s easier to manage and take baby steps towards change. The big picture can be overwhelming otherwise.

    • Exactly! 🙂

  3. A little different perspective:
    D&C 64
    33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

    34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

    • Thanks ((Ruth))

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