Are You Missing the Big Picture?

A few years back, I did a community theater musical for charity. As I was putting on my makeup, I began to fixate on a zit that had decided to make its own debut performance. Then one of my cast mates, older and wiser than I, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me five paces back. “Nobody else is even going to notice it,” she told me.

And she was right. In fact, from that distance, I could barely see it myself. What I did see was a confident woman in costume and ready to go on stage. And so I did.

The show was a big hit, we raised a lot of money for charity, and I had an amazing experience that will last a lifetime. That zit? It only lasted a couple of days. In fact, I wouldn’t even remember it at all, except that it taught me some really important lessons about life. I know what you’re thinking, that I’m coo coo for Cocoa Puffs and big lessons aren’t learned from tiny blemishes, but read on and see if you don’t agree.

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No matter what you’re upset about, whether it’s a zit, a break-up, or missing a flight, there is always—and I do mean always—something way worse that could be happening. When you stop to recognize that, it gives you perspective to see the problem for what it truly is: something you can deal with, and not the end of the world.

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2. Broaden your view. When I was leaning into the mirror staring at that zit, I could see nothing else—it was as if the rest of my face completely disappeared. But by taking a few steps back, I broadened my view enough to see that one part does not the whole make. So if you’re having a bad moment, don’t get stuck within it. Zoom out and think of all the other moments that came before and all those that will come after.

3. Show yourself in a good light. I don’t think anyone in the dressing room would have even noticed that zit had I not myself been staring at it, squeezing it, and screaming, “I have a ginormous zit!” to anyone who’d listen. If you want someone to notice how amazing your outfit is, stop pointing out the one missing button. If you’re throwing a dinner party and want people to remember how great the meal was, don’t keep reminding them that your silverware doesn’t match. People pay attention to what you shine the spotlight on, so focus it on the positive.

4. When life gives you lemons… That zit was a giant lemon, but all these great life lessons it taught me are lemonade. You can choose to stay fixated on the problems of life, making them so big they eclipse all the good stuff (and making it difficult for others to see you for anything else), or you can take five steps back, get perspective, take a deep breath, and move on.

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