“How Important Is It?” is one of the slogans used in AA. It’s a thought like “don’t sweat the small stuff.” It asks us to consider the thing we’re upset about, and consider if it’s worth the mental anguish we’re giving it.
One of my favorite visualizations having to do with this concept goes like this: Picture you’re life, laid out in minutes. How many of them do you want to give to this? Whatever this may be.
I’m thinking I’ve lived about 24 million minutes so far. I can picture them stretched out behind me. I don’t know how many are ahead. Maybe 24 million more, maybe not. I can picture picking up a hand full, and handing them over to my problem. Here you go, obnoxious co-worker, here are 30 of my remaining minutes. I’ll spend them on thinking about how I don’t like you. Politicians on the other side, I’ll give you many of my remaining hours. I’ll spend them thinking about how wrong you are. Driver who makes me mad, here is one of my remaining minutes.
Another common way to consider how important something is is to consider: will it matter in 100 years? Fifty? Twenty-five? Ten? One? Will I remember what I was upset about this time next year? Do I remember what I was upset about this time last year? Matter are then increasing in their gravity according to how far into the future they will reach.
This concept changes over time. In early sobriety, people may need actual guidance and practice in deciding how important things are. I imagine we roam all over the map with treating things wrongly, whether by taking them too seriously or not seriously enough.
As my life and sobriety have gotten longer, I can see that a lot of this has to do with accepting the things I cannot change. I’ve spent so much time fretting over them! It seems to me that well balanced people have this well under control.
It also has to do with staying in the day. How often have I wasted precious time fretting over something instead of enjoying the moment? Often. I think of this in terms of good times that have ended, relationships that are over, people that have died.
That’s all about the negative, and spending less mental time on worry, negative projection, and negative emotions like anger and hate. I want to also look at it the other way, as in paying attention to the important things, especially habits. It’s important that I keep formally setting aside time to pray as I try to make it more a part of my life. It’s important that I go to meetings and that I keep working the steps. It’s important that I spend time and energy on my loved ones, on my body. In those cases, “how important is it?” has to remind me to pay attention to things I may consider to be “OK” right now.
I have a daily struggle with how important it is for my dog to be walked, and for me to be able to walk her. I’ve decided, for now, that it’s extremely important. Because of a dog-walking trauma I survived, plus my inexperience with dogs, this is a struggle for me every single day. I reevaluate it often, and I always come up feeling it’s very important. So for now, I persist.