Have you ever heard anyone say, "I learned that important lesson the easy way"? Me neither. In order to learn, mistakes must be made. For the most important of life's lessons, the mistakes can be hurtful, messy, harmful, ugly and embarrassing.
There are some graceful beings who accumulate wisdom without being too destructive. I'm in awe of these people. For most of us, myself included, wisdom is hard-won. Every shred of wisdom I can claim came out of a process in which I pitted myself against myself, and lost. It's slightly amusing to think back on some of the misguided battles I've engaged in.
It's one of my favorite Dr. Who quotes, that when someone says, "How did you get to be so wise?" the doctor says, "Just like everyone else, I had a really bad day." Oh yeah.
All that advice about not sweating the small stuff, living each day fully, being kind whenever possible, etc. -- such great ideals and important to work towards, but to expect perfect behavior is not realistic or compassionate. Is it?
I think it's important to sweat the small stuff sometimes, I really do. I think it's fine to check out sometimes and take everything for granted. Yes, of course try to be kind whenever possible, and yes of course it's always possible (says the Dalai Lama) but if you find yourself being unkind (usually happens underneath conscious intention) please remember, you're a human being: complicated, wound up, monkey-minded, conflicted. Shit happens. It does.
Developing character requires bad behavior tempered by a willingness to return to good behavior. It's the process of remembering how you'd like to walk through the world, then taking steps in that direction. The return to mindfulness is the foundation of every kind of learning, or so says the Voice in the Shower.
Go ahead. Sweat the small stuff. Just don't ALWAYS sweat the small stuff. Yes? I say yes.