Allie and Karen are 5-year-old cousins who played together often and are best of friends. Their parents took them to the local fair and bought each of them an identical balloon. After the fair, Allie went home with Karen to play.
Allie didn’t realize her parents took her balloon home with them. On the ride to Karen’s house, Allie thought the balloon in the car was hers. At Karen’s house, everyone went inside along with the balloon.
Allie and Karen played happily for a few hours as they always did. When Allie’s parents arrived to pick her up, she tried to take the balloon. Karen immediately grabbed the balloon, yelling that it was hers.
The two girls started fighting and screaming over the balloon. They were shouting mean things about each other. Karen’s parents told Allie that the balloon in the house did indeed belong to Karen. Allie didn’t believe them and left the house crying. Allie was too upset to notice her balloon which was still in her parent’s car.
Both of their balloons only lasted a few days before deflating and being thrown out. But Allie and Karen were so stressed out by the balloon incident that they didn’t want to play together for two weeks. When they finally got together again, neither one remembered the trauma of fighting over a balloon.
As adults, it’s easy to see how silly it is when children fight over idiotic issues. Yet we continue to follow the same infantile patterns as adults. How many times have you agued with someone close to you over something stupid? Then a period of time goes by and you can’t remember why you were upset in the first place.
Fighting over a balloon is as ridiculous for adults as it is for children. The issues may be different but they are just as insignificant. It’s such a waste to negatively impact a good relationship by fighting over meaningless issues.
There are even former friends who haven’t talked to each other for years and can’t remember why. All they remember is that they were slighted in some way by their former friend and they vowed never to have anything to do with them again.
Before becoming enmeshed in a fight, take a step back in order to objectively determine whether the issue at hand is worth it. When upset, allow yourself time to calm down before deciding how to proceed. Look forward with hindsight. In two years, will you remember what you are upset about now or even care? If the answer is no, save yourself all the heartache and let it go today.
Keep things in perspective. In life’s big picture, is fighting over the issue warranted? Most of the time it’s not. Look at your own experiences. How many times have you gotten caught up embroiled over meaningless things?
There are some people who will intentionally try to pick a fight with you or attempt to make you upset. Avoid those individuals whenever possible. When you have to deal with them, don’t take the bait. Avoid reacting to their taunts. Although you may feel uncomfortable ignoring them, engaging them feeds the situation, making it worse.
Learn from the children. Let the balloon go rather than clinging to it. Devote your energy to moving forward along your path rather than wasting time fighting. Life goes by too fast to squander it.
The bottom line is don’t sweat the small stuff. And most things you encounter qualify as small stuff. Always ask yourself, “Does this really matter?” Since the answer is usually “no,” let it go and be happy.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2013 Bryan Golden