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Illustration: Jen Troyer

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Did I remember to bring in a bag of pretzels and 25 (not 24!) juice boxes to my son’s school? Did I ask my husband about the tax-return deadline? And will I ever, ever be at some point in my life where I’ll have the two hours to myself needed to go into town and buy a needle for my busted record player? These are the worries I have on any given day. They are little worries. They are not about the fate of the planet or the course of my future. One might even say that they are trivial. And yet under them hide larger, lifelong worries (mine: being a lousy mom; suffering financial ruin because I was not in charge of every single goddamn thing in our household; becoming a boring person who no longer listens to records or music at all).

Taking a look at how much time you spend on your little worries is a good way to recognize how much time you’re spending on your big worries, even if you don’t realize that both are at play in your brain—gobbling up happiness and calm wherever they pop up. Interestingly enough, you don’t have to put much work into squashing the little ones. They go away—poof—once you’ve tackled the big ones, once and for all.
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