The stress associated with coping with life’s incessant grind can sometimes be overwhelming. Whoever said “don’t sweat the small stuff” certainly knew what they were talking about but, unfortunately, many of us do “sweat the small stuff.” Self-inflicted sleep deprivation, uncontrollable snack consumption, clicker paralysis and selective human engagement are defense mechanisms that, in the long run, only exacerbate the malaise that can follow us around like a “black cloud.” Some of the “small stuff” that I should stop “sweating” over includes:
THE ALARM CLOCK – My day begins with soft-rock music blaring from the clock-radio. After hitting the snooze button three or four times, thus ensuring that I miss out on an extra half-hour sleep, I finally get out of bed. I deprive myself of approximately 120 hours of sleep each year due to this insidious routine, which is reinforced when I set the alarm to go off at the exact same time the next morning.
SNACKS – With six young children, snacks play a very important role in our daily life. While I try to ensure a healthy variety is available, “good stuff” is also included as a reward for outstanding grades or good behavior. It’s also impossible to “sneak” a snack in our household because we each have an innate sense that a package of chocolate chip cookies, rippled potato chips or deluxe mixed nuts has been opened. Cheese-Its, in particular, are extremely difficult to eat covertly. Opening the air-sealed plastic wrapping, which I’m convinced is designed by NASA, requires Herculean strength and the echo of the unmistakable violent ripping sound always triggers a stampede of eager snack companions.
THE CLICKER – Much to the dismay of my kids, I invoke seniority “clicker” rights whenever the urge hits me to relax and watch TV, which is not very often. My television viewing is usually limited to local professional sports teams or “CHARLESTOWN LIVE,” which airs on Channel 9 every Thursday at 6:30 PM. The longer I remain sitting on the couch; the least likely I am of getting off of it and if my feet are resting on an ottoman, you might as well just turn out the lights.
TECHNOLOGY – I am truly clueless when it comes to today’s technology. I have no idea what an APP is; I don’t know how to text; I have seven “friends” on Facebook and they all live with me; my cell phone has month-old messages that I’m not sure how to listen to; and IPOD, IPAD, ICLOUD are all “Greek” to me. When the telephone rings at my house, a voice announces who is on the line so I have the option of not answering and letting the machine record a message. If my cell phone rings I don’t have to answer that either unless, of course, it’s my wife. I’m not required to respond to E-Mails or texts, and my letter carrier or other delivery service brings whatever else it is I need to my front door. I could lead a “Trappist monk” existence but, alas, I prefer human interaction.
HYGIENE – The most important of all daily tasks (e.g. brushing your teeth, applying deodorant, taking a shower, changing into new clothes), when pressed for time, is also the most likely to be overlooked. The unforgettable facial expressions produced during chance encounters all but ask, “I wonder what endangered species is living in his mouth?” It is especially important to “take care of business” during the summer months; with humidity and high temperatures dramatically increasing the body’s sphere of influence.