How to Not Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill

One of the very best ways that I have found to make daily life easier, lighter, more positive and less stressful is to learn how to not make mountains out of molehills.

To learn how to not add extra drama or overanalyze or overthink things. To not create problems where there are none or there are simply very small issues you can fix.

Learning this has helped me to have fewer problems and worries in my work. And in my relationships. It also made my dating life more effortless and fun when I used to be single.

So I’d like to share the most effective ways that I have learned to do this.

And at the end of this post I’ll also share what I have spent most of my time with lately.

Quickly stop and reexamine your thoughts.

When I am starting to make a mountain out of a molehill and I am starting to sweat the small stuff then I usually use a stop-phrase.

As a big problem is starting to form in my thoughts I say in my mind: Hold on now…

This makes me pause and reflect on those negative thoughts that are starting to form.

I follow that up with asking myself these three questions to open my mind up and to reframe my thoughts.

Question #1: Who cares?

This one is simple and sharp and helps me to let go of small stuff. The stuff that doesn’t really matter in a relationship. An overly angry and attacking email I might get. Some nitpicking or unnecessary polishing on a task perhaps.

It helps me to realign with the smarter perspective where I just have time and energy for the most important things in life. It helps me to be cool about stuff instead of overreacting and wasting a chunk of my life.

Question #2: Will this matter 5 years from now? Or even 5 weeks from now?

This one is really powerful. It can make just about any difficulty seem pretty trivial and not as heavy as you might have imagined for the past few hours, days or weeks.

It is a question that has helped me many times to see an issue for how it really is and for how big it truly is. This sobering perspective makes it easy to start thinking more clearly again and to find a small step you can take today to move forward and to solve the issue.

Question #3: Does anyone on the planet have it worse than me right now?

This is one of quickest ways to stop feeling sorry for yourself in one of these mountain-building situations and to start feeling grateful for everything you still got.

By using this question and in my mind seeing how other people live and the issues they face my own narrow and self-centered perspective widens and becomes more positive and action-oriented.

Just by using these three questions I can usually deflate most self-made mountains in my mind and see a more helpful view of my life again.

If not, or if it just works partially, then I move on to the next step…

Talk it out with someone.

By talking to someone about the “big” problem in your mind and by letting it out into the light it becomes a lot easier to see the issue for what it really is.

Sometimes just venting to someone for a few minutes makes a huge difference and after a while you may start wondering what you were so worried or pessimistic about in the first place.

And at other times the person you are talking to can help you to find a more helpful and practical perspective by sharing his or her view and experiences in this area of life.

Replace the added drama with something more fun.

By making a firm decision to not add extra drama to your life to spice it up or to make it more exciting and instead making a choice to replace it with more interesting and fun stuff you can make life simpler.

How do you do that though?

One way is to get more of a life. To add more exciting, fun, interesting or fulfilling activities to your schedule and life.

By doing so you’ll have less time and energy to spare in your days and week to spend on making mountains out of molehills and creating drama. And you’ll have less need for that old drama-creating habit too because you are now making your life more interesting in another and healthier way.

Coming Very Soon: The Smart Social Skills Course

Over the last six months I have been working hard and I am now very happy and excited to announce that my latest and what I believe may be my most helpful product so far is almost finished.

It is called The Smart Social Skills Course. And it is a 12-week course in two of the most important things in life: how to improve your social skills and build better and healthier relationships.

Over the past 7 years I have improved my own social skills and relationship habits a lot.

I have gone from someone who was in many situations painfully shy and socially unconfident to someone who feels so much more at ease and relaxed socially.

And in this course I want to share what has worked, the best things I have found for becoming a better conversationalist, making great first impressions, overcoming shyness, building your social self-confidence and being able to be your best self and have a lot more fun.

Plus a whole lot more.

Each week of the course you’ll get simple and practical action-steps to follow to understand your own situation better and to improve your social skills and relationship habits.

If this is something you’re interested in, then be on the lookout next week for more information on the exact launch date and time and on the special offer that you can get on the course.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nat

    Regarding ‘Question #3: Does anyone on the planet have it worse than me right now?’, how do I stop this from making me feel guilty and depressed about the world and the horrid lives that some people have, and instead make me feel grateful for what I have, without the feeling that I don’t deserve what I have.

    • Hi Nat!

      If the question isn’t helping you then I would recommend letting go of it.

      I have encountered many, many self-improvement tips over the past few years but I only carry with me the tips that have worked well for me. The rest I have let go of.

    • I know what you mean, sometimes putting things in perspective can make you feel like you can never feel down again, because there is always someone out there struggling or lost or hurting. This is why I like to try to find ways to give back, because I know I deserve what I have… but also realize that there are people who are not as lucky, so I like to try to bring them some “luck”, whether it be volunteering, money, or just including them in my thoughts :)

  • Number two is exactly my method of choice when I’m wanting to make a mountain out of a molehill. I always ask myself how I’ll feel just a week from now. If I’m not going to be bothered later, why waste my time now? It definitely puts things into perspective for you. Actually, doing it has become sort of automatic for me now!

    By the way, huge congrats on the course’s progress! I’m excited to hear more about it once you’re ready.

    • Awesome to hear that you use the second question too and that this process has become sort of automatic for you, Vincent! And thank you very much!

  • huanqi

    I really love this. i’ve done most of the stuff here by myself, and it works so well. For the five years thing, i do twenty because i am relatively young, still in my early youth (okay, maybe not that early)? but by the time i become some serious stoic middle-aged person, i dont really think anything i currently mini-panic about now would actually have any impact! We have to try our best, but not stretch until we break.

    I’m so glad how useful your blog really is, giving tips that actually work well and spreading the love. i’ve subscribed for quite a while and the owners of this blog deserve a BIG HUGGGG and uncountable thank yous!

  • These are great tips for anyone feeling overwhelmed and stressed about life in general. Learning to let go of the little things you often cannot control anyways just let’s the bigger, real issues come easier and be solved faster. It allows us to devote so much more of our time to productive thinking and actions. I had to get myself to a point of being able to carxh myself getting worked up and ask myself “Is there something more worthwhile you could be focused on?” Nine times out of ten I answer yes.

  • Hei, good post. I like to say to clients, ” Is it really and truly important?”
    Remember your breath, Robert Tewsley

    • Simple and powerful question, thank you for adding what works for you, Robert!

    • That’s so true! I usually worry about money and debt until I realise 90% of the world does…it aint worth worrying about.

  • These are three fabulous questions. I think any of the three can work depending on your mood and inclination at the moment. If we keep these questions at our fingertips, life will be so much more enjoyable.

  • Always remember people won’t care about what you did, what you said, or how or what you wore.

    What they remember is HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL!

  • Thanks so much for this! I needed it particularly today for something I’m experiencing with a family member. Thank you, KAEL for your reminder as well!

    I teach social skills daily to clients with mental health issues and your articles and curriculum are priceless! I’m definitely looking forward to the new course.

  • Your post is really a great reminder to me not to sweat over the small stuff. It is so easy to get caught up in small things and make unnecessary drama out of it. I think your 3 questions are very helpful, especially no. 2. I also try to train myself to become more aware of my own reactions, because nipping potential drama creation thoughts in the bud is much easier than when I’ve become fully caught up in the momentum of the negativity.

  • Hi and thanks for the article :)

    I tend to over- complicate/analyze things and personally struggle with the “talking it about with someone” part… to the point where I took 10 years to get some professional support.

    Even though I don’t think its for everyone… I have to say its helped me discover a couple of perspectives I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

  • Val

    Sometimes it’s really difficult to stop in the moment and re-evaluate where your thoughts are taking you. That is a really good way to stop the downward spiral though.

  • Bria

    Hi Henrik,

    Any advise you have here is greatly appreciated. I make almost everything in life a mountain. It makes me discontent because I make quick decisions to change it and then those new decisions fall through. To make a long story short, I’ve made several wrong moves in the past couple of years trying to find what would make me happy. I like to think i can talk to people but truth is they are drained and no longer want to talk to me. its effected a lot of relationships. I know this sounds draining, but Thanks for any advice!!

  • Anonymous

    Hi ,
    I totally agree that sometimes we over think about something and then make false assumption about our situation.I personally used to do alot of panic even on little little things, obviously it is not good for one,s personality.But now i am different person, because i have realised that sometimes u just have to calm down a little bit when the problem comes and should then think about the solution.You easillyy get ur problem when u think when u are cool :) :).Bye the way nice post buddy :D


  • Lots of very good insight, mountains out of molehills definitely creates much unneeded drama that none of us need and simplifying is always a huge help. Perhaps I will check out this Smart Social Skills Course when it is released.

  • Great Post Henri! Simple but powerful. Question 1 resonates with me the most asking who cares anyway? will definitely fizzle out any mountains and molehills going on in my day! Leaving more time to have fun!