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Will the Little Things Be Your Downfall?

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The Battle of the Beetles

On the slope of Long’s Peak in Colorado lies the ruin of a gigantic tree. Naturalists tell us that it stood for some four hundred years. It was a seedling when Columbus landed at San Salvador, and half grown when the pilgrims settled at Plymouth.

During the course of its long life it was struck by lightning fourteen times and the innumerable avalanches and storms of four centuries thundered past it. It survived them all. In the end, however, an army of beetles attacked the tree and leveled it to the ground. The insects ate their way through the bark and gradually destroyed the inner strength of the tree by their tiny but incessant attacks. A forest giant which age had not withered, nor lightning blasted, nor storms subdued, fell at last before beetles so small that a man could crush them between his forefinger and his thumb.

There is a parallel in this story which should serve as a warning to us. Most of us can survive times of crisis. We summon the strength of faith or resolve for most any battle that we face head on. Whether it is in our professional or personal lives, we often overcome great obstacles. It is the small things like jealousy, anger, resentment, pettiness and negativity that eat us from the inside, which often bring about our downfall. Unlike a giant tree, we can identify and fight those moral or ethical “beetles.” We must, however, be constantly on guard.

Author: Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick

The Takeaway

In my years, I’ve experienced some really tough times and I’ve seen others experience some really tough times as well.  None of us are immune or safe, and most of us will endure life’s toughest challenges and keep going.  But what’s the use of surviving the toughest challenges in life if we let the little things slowly eat away at us?  Negativity rarely helps any situation, so why let it eat away at our character and our happiness?

We need to be bigger than the petty things in life if we want to be happy.  We need to identify these small, negative things, that over time could be our downfall if we don’t get ahead of them.  If you find yourself always angry, resentful, jealous, or harboring any negative feelings, take a step back and ask yourself what it’s really doing?  You’ll find that it’s controlling your mind and stealing your happiness.  This is tough to deal with, as it’s most people’s default mode.  If it’s your default mode, it’s time for a change.  Otherwise, surviving the biggest obstacles in life won’t really matter if the small things in life are breaking you down. 

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