It is easy to get caught up in what goes on around us day to day and see problems as bigger than what they may actually be. Everything looks bigger from close up and smaller if looked at from a distance.

I have been thinking about this in relation to the issues, which seem to have gotten people “fired up” in Australia (particularly during the election) but in general too compared to what is going on in other parts of the world.

Currently in Pakistan there are 20 million people affected by flooding. Many of these people have lost their homes, their livelihoods and in some cases family members. This figure is close to the entire Australian population and is around 15 times the number of people affected in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

Maybe it is because Pakistan is far away or maybe because it is not seen as “important” but news of this is usually in the middle of the papers with the exploits of sports people or other celebrity indiscretions getting onto page one. The media by and large reflects rather than dictates the mood of the people so this does tell us something about what we see as important.

I was staggered to read (in the Economist Aug 14) that in the last four years there has been 28000 deaths in Mexico associated with drug cartels. Most of these people were murdered. This is nearly 25 times the annual road toll in Australia. All of these people no doubt had families who are affected by this and I am certain the vast majority were young people.

Meanwhile back home the issue, which the Greens are most fired up about, is Gay Marriage. Now to be honest I do not have a strong view either way-it does not affect me. If people love each other then a piece of paper will not strengthen that and if they do not neither will it make them do so. The world will keep turning. Married or not their life will continue.

Many other issues are also given life and death seriousness when in reality they are just about peoples opinions.

Much is made about the increase in mental illness in western countries. It seems increasingly that much of this is worry reclassified as an illness. We are fortunate to have enough to eat and roofs over our heads and by any historic measure, a high level of safety.

This gives us the time to get stressed over who will win the football, or the election. We have time to shop and then stress about paying the credit card bill. We can build a bigger house and stress over interest rates. We have time to get involved in the lives of celebrities whose activities we follow closely and then pontificate on.

Many are whipped up into fear by the latest pronouncement of doom and gloom by some academic who wants more “funding” for their next project. Tales of individuals who are aggrieved over something not going their way also ignite passions and lead people to feel stressed.

Whilst it is true that for each person, that which affects them most, seems the most important, the stress we feel is a product of our mind rather than our circumstances. It is our reaction to events and not events themselves, which are the cause of stress. In western society much of the “stress” we feel is a product of our expectations not being met. The problem is not reality it is our expectations.

In turn we are 100% responsible for our expectations as well as our response to the reality we find ourselves in. This means we have the capacity to change how we respond. It is entirely normal to want things to be “better” and work towards this. Your starting point must be an acceptance of how things are right now. It is only from there that you can go forward.

So rather than stressing or seeking to blame something or someone for any problems you face start with accepting your situation. Then look for a solution and implement it. Sometimes this solution will be to walk away. Always it will involve a choice.

If you want things to be other than they are you will need to do things differently to how you have done them