I was watching an episode of Ellen a few weeks ago and she had a 95 year old woman on the show who had just renewed her driver’s license, making her the oldest person in the U.S. to have a valid driver’s license. So Ellen was talking to this woman, who was admittedly just absolutely adorable, healthy, and looked great, and Ellen asked her “So what is the secret to living to be 95 and be so healthy? What have you done in your life to get where you are now?” The woman’s answer, one-liner, was “I don’t stress about things I can’t do anything about.” Ahh! Profound! I’ve known that stress ages us and can even kill us, but for some reason when this adorable woman said it, it was like this amazing light of reality and I thought oh wow, she’s so right. There is absolutely no point in stressing over something I can’t do anything about.
Since seeing that woman on the show and hearing her response, I often replay her line in my head and ask myself, about any situation, “can I do anything about it?” If the answer is “nope”, then I just let it go. Easy as that. You can try to make excuses all day long about why you should keep stressing over it, but if you literally can’t do something to change whatever it is, stop worrying about it.
I say all that like I’m some kind of expert in shrugging things off, but I’m certainly not (yet). Even as fresh as that theory is in my head, I had a situation recently that was what I considered to be a serious one (serious is a relative term, because it wasn’t about health or loss or any of the really critical life things, but as less-than-major life things go, it was serious). I was really stressed about it for a couple days and could not come up with how to cope with it.
Then I was watching LA Shrinks. Yes, I was watching the LA Shrinks. Laugh all you want, I’m not ashamed. Plus if you think I’m lame for that, I can trump that any day by telling you how obsessed with the Kardashians I am. Anyway, it was the finale of the show and all of the therapists were leaving lasting notes for us viewers. One of the therapists started talking about how in order to grow big you have to experience emotional obstacles. Right then, I connected the dots and told myself that the situation I was trying to figure out how to cope with was just a required emotional obstacle for me to experience in order to grow strong! Once I turned the situation into a fact, it made it much easier to deal with.
Then I took it a notch further and tied it back to my favorite 95 year old woman’s thought about stressing over what I can’t do anything about. On the surface, this situation seemed more complex than just your everyday worry, but when I really broke it down, no matter how complex it seemed, there was literally nothing I could do to fix it. More than that, I acknowledged that I got the short end of the stick in the deal (big time), on multiple levels. Despite what end of the stick I had been given, I just accepted it. I mean, why not? I couldn’t change it anyway!
So I officially have a new checklist for life issues now. Ready?
- Is there anything I can do about it? If no,
- Did I do the absolute best I could? If yes,
- Seriously, is there anything I can do about it? If no,
- Oh well! Nothing left to think about. Forget about it!
Sound crass? Maybe. But if I know for absolute sure I did the best I could and there is nothing I can do about it now, stop stressing and forget about it!
Try it. You’d be amazed at how often you can just let things go and forget about them.
Live to be 95! I plan to.