Reading Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are last night and this line really resonated with me: “don’t make such a big deal” of whatever it is happening. I've heard it before, but it doesn't mean it didn't freshly resonate in a new way.

Often your mindset and your way of dealing with something will be much better off when you apply patience and space, and don't jump to conclusions. Our striving (aka wheel spinning?) to make situations 'better' can end up hurting ourselves. Meaning, if we have the idea that a situation can be changed for the better by our unique, timely and forceful input, we believe that maybe that’s actually possible — that we can change a situation by doing something about it. But ultimately a lot of situations are better off without our input — they just need time and patience, and maybe for us to even not pay attention to them (gasp!).

Making a big deal of something in the sense that Pema was talking about is more of an emotional response. If we make a big deal of something, we’re expending a lot of emotional energy on something that isn’t probably worth it.

I suppose the real nut of the statement is that nothing is worth making a “big deal” out of — heck, what positive comes from making a big deal out of something? For instance, making a big deal of a close friend’s death (a story that stuck with me from Mark Epstein's Advice Not Given) doesn’t help that person come back, and doesn’t help you get through the hard time. It certainly doesn't help you feel all the feels that come with the tragedy. Making a big deal of getting cut off while driving doesn’t do anything to the person that cut you off, it doesn't change the fact that it happened, it just gets you all worked up and pissed off. Making a big deal out of a snotty email from a client/boss/coworker doesn’t do anything to repair that relationship or get work done effectively.

I think 'making a big deal' out of something is all for our ego. A 'big deal' can make someone feel vindicated or righteous and shine a spotlight on what they think people should know about, damnit! Someone has wronged me! Look! I’ve been hurt, I've been screwed, I've been ridiculed, I've been ignored! Oh, the injustice! How could this have happened?!?!

Making a big deal makes it feel like you're addressing a problem in a productive way — being incensed about something can sure feel like you're doing something about it.

But things happen, bad things and good things, and they will keep happening every damn day. Things will always be changing, in little ways, medium ways, and sometimes in big blow-up-your-life ways. Living skillfully and not getting all worked up or annoyed or put out or feeling wronged is the way that we can move through our days without having things affect us. Sure, we'll still have reactions (we are humans after all), but our ability to 'right' ourselves and come back to an emotional equilibrium is one of the ultimate challenges of life.