5 by 5 Rule

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that the loneliest moment in someone’s life is “when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” Although written within the context of one of his (arguably) greatest literary achievements, The Great Gatsby, it remains as one of the most powerful and compelling quotes I have ever come across in my life. Not only because I so strongly resonate with it, but also because it’s such a uniquely different way of describing the moment in which we feel lonely, one that is often disregarded.

But it’s true- we can have family and friends and lovers surrounding us as our world is falling to bits, and no matter how tight they hold us, we will still be alone. We are the only ones that can truly know what we feel and why we feel that way, and so we spend far too much time trying to fix our open wounds and crying out to our own broken hearts. We dwell upon that pain for far too long because it’s easier to pity ourselves than find courage and take that next step to our beautiful future.

I will be the first to admit I am a big culprit of this- sometimes focusing on my personal pain and problems is easier than trying to fix it. But a couple weeks ago, I came across a new way to view it, a new way to try and deal with it, a little something called the 5 by 5 rule. It says that you should not spend more than 5 minutes worrying over something that won’t matter in 5 years.

The first time I read this, it hit me so hard that I had to drop what I was doing and take a couple deep breaths, taking in this new idea. I mean, just looking at it again now makes me pause for a second- it’s such a simple idea, and yet it’s so powerful. And in the end, it’s also very appropriate. I mean, why waste so much time worrying and stressing out about something that you probably won’t even remember in 5 years? It just seems rather pointless.

So whatever it is- a bad test grade, a missed deadline, a broken friendship- think about how long it will impact your life. Realistically imagine how long whatever has just happened will impact you for, and if you look inside and realize it’ll be less than 5 years, do not dedicate more than 5 minutes, or 300 seconds, of your time freaking out about it. If it won’t impact you long term then you shouldn’t let it worry you for longer than necessary- use all that extra strength you would dedicate to anger and sadness to love and reconstruct your broken heart. That’s what it’s good for anyways.

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