I was recently struck by how easy it is to get caught up in the little things in life to the point where you become stressed out and overwhelmed. A few days ago I noticed myself feeling extremely anxious -- tightness in my chest, unease in the pit of my stomach, muscle tension -- and stopped to ask myself why. (I find it strange that sometimes we feel like something's wrong but we don't know exactly what's bothering us).
Why ask myself why? I think it's important to check in with myself when I feel anxious or unhappy. It's important to be in touch with your emotions and to understand what you're feeling. That's what is meant by "dealing with your feelings." And if you don't deal with your feelings they usually end up dealing with you -- they either come out in some unintended angry outburst or they take a toll on you physically (ulcers, fatigue, headaches, decreased immune functioning, etc.).
So what was bothering me? Well, I think I was just feeling overwhelmed by everyday life. I had a lot of bills due at the end of the week and my roommate hadn't paid me the rent for the month yet. I was feeling uncomfortable about having to ask her for the money but needed the money to pay the bills.
Then I asked myself, "In five years is any of this going to matter? Don't the bills always get paid? If you don't pay them this week you can pay them next week when you get paid." In other words, I put things into perspective. Sure, my situation was a little stressful. But in the scheme of things it just wasn't that important. What was important was that I was wasting precious moments of my life feeling anxious over something that just wasn't that big of a deal.
It reminded me of a question I'd once answered in a self-help book. The question was, "Looking back at your life, what do you regret most?" My answer was, "I regret that I've spent so much of my life being unhappy."