How To Make Your Problems Seem Really Small

Look at your place in the universe and get some perspective.

Matt Lillywhite
Oct 27 · 4 min read
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Photo by John Hernandez on Unsplash

“My problems are way bigger than yours. You have absolutely no idea what I’m going through.”

That’s something many of us love to say. The reason? We often have a bad habit of making our problems way bigger in our minds than they actually are. Think about it. We often worry and complain about our relationships, money, and work — amongst many other things.

We like to think we’re the center of the universe and that the entire world revolves around us. But in the grand scheme of things, we’re just one person on a planet of several billion people. And although that might be a hard pill for you to swallow, it’s true.

I remember when I used to worry about anything and everything. If you opened a dictionary and looked up the word “anxiety”, you’d see my face. I spent a lot of time worrying about things that weren’t important. As a result, it was often difficult to concentrate on the things that were.

Over the years, my mindset has completely changed for the better. I now have perspective and don’t worry about my problems for longer than necessary. My life is so much better now.

So if you want to do the same, you just need to gain some perspective. Because once you understand how tiny your problems are in comparison to the massive scale of the universe, you’ll stop making your problems bigger than they actually are.

Here’s how to start.

Look At Your Place In The Cosmos.

During the lockdown, I was staying in a rural British town for several months with my family. It was a difficult time for all of us. My grandfather had recently passed away, unemployment was skyrocketing, and a global pandemic was killing thousands of people every day.

But whenever feelings of anxiety nervousness crept into my mind, I’d step outside during the middle of the night and look up at the stars. It’s something that I love doing whenever I face a massive problem since it reminds me of how small I am in comparison to the universe.

The night sky would glisten with stars as if it were a beautiful painting that belonged in an art gallery. Sometimes, I’d see planets and marvel at how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful world. Because compared to the harsh climates of Venus and Mars, we certainly have beautiful landscapes.

According to the European Space Agency, there are over 100 thousand million stars that are similar to our own within the Milky Way galaxy. And research published by Nasa estimates there to be over 200 billion galaxies in the entire universe.

You don’t need to be a mathematician to figure out that we’re just a tiny speck of dust in comparison to the rest of the cosmos. Compare your problems to the size of the universe. How big do they seem now? Tiny.

Remember That You Live On A Pale Blue Dot.

In 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft took the following photograph of planet Earth from a distance of 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from the Sun:

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Source: NASA

This famous photograph inspired the title of scientist Carl Sagan’s book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.” In it, he writes:

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

How beautiful is that? It’s something I remind myself of whenever I’m facing anxiety or adversity. Because no matter how big my problems might seem, I tell myself that I live on a pale blue dot in a small corner of the universe. That certainly helps to put everything into perspective.

Everything and everyone you love will eventually turn to dust. So it really worth worrying about what a random stranger thinks of you? Is it really worth spending your time complaining about a situation that you cannot control? Probably not.

Once you can appreciate the gigantic size of the universe, it’s much easier to stop worrying about your problems. After all, they (probably) seem really small and insignificant in comparison.

So whenever you find yourself going through adversity, remember that your place in the cosmos is tiny. Put everything into perspective, and it’ll only be a matter of time before every aspect of your life changes for the better.

I’m going to leave you with a beautiful quote from Marcus Aurelius, who perfectly sums up what I’m trying to say: “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

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Matt Lillywhite

Written by

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

Matt Lillywhite

Written by

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

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