Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff by Richard Carlson is a self-help, but also philosophical take on life. Namely, it recommends we take life a bit less seriously and we prioritize peace of mind, love and relationships over the stresses of overworking and “achieving”.
- There are no emergencies. Chill
- Stress is an acceptable, even admired form of mental illness. Don’t buy into it
- Don’t skimp on relaxing time: prioritize it
Choose Relaxed Over Competitive
The author says it’s not true that to achieve and get things done we need to be competitive and stressed out. It’s best to approach life with a relaxed and contemplative attitude instead.
And you should never lose the ability to relax and take a breather whenever you need one, especially after having worked hard.
Here are a couple of great ways to enjoy a more relaxed life:
- Stop living life according to others
- Stop trying to please others
Let Go of Your Ego
We are all driven by a need to look good and important.
When we give in to this craving, we can do thing that hurt the people around, like jumping in to fix a mistake or trying to impress those around.
We make a big show to impress and we also risk hurting our relationship.
Much better instead to take a step back from our own ego.
Let Go of Resentment & Need to Be Right
Sometimes we harbor resentment out of small squabbles or little things someone said or did. When we let that happen, we unwittingly turn small things into big ones.
Richard Calrson says that we do it because we tend to see forgiveness as weak and sometimes out of a race as to who’s stronger.
We might decide to cut a relationship with a loved one… In hope that they will come back. But maybe they’re thinking the exact same thing.
Avoid it altogether by keeping small things small and letting go of the need to be right.
Spread the Love
Remind the people you love that you love them.
And cut some slack to the people who annoy. Chances are that nobody is actually out to annoy you, but that you are just having a bad day yourself.
Your Thoughts Are Your Reality
Our lives is a reflection of our thoughts. And we can change our thoughts.
Similar as many self-development authors like Tony Robbins recommend, Richard Carlson recommends that when you’re feeling negative you deliberately change your thoughts to something more positive.
The author says that a good way to take control of your mind and thoughts is to spend some time alone, like meditation, yoga or a walk in the nature.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff has some content overlap with The Power of Now when it encourages the readers to focus on the present and to “live in the moment” instead of worrying of what might happen in the future.
Some books on meditation and power of thoughts:
Don’t Fight Against Your Problems
The author says that a great obstacle to thinking positively is our problems. But more than our problems, it’s actually how we approach them.
We should not approach problems as if we need to fight against them, but we should approach them as opportunity to learn from.
And focus on what you have instead of what’s missing.
Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Some people think that being a perfectionist will bring out the best in us. But Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff instead says that perfectionism will only make us unhappy by focusing on what we did wrong.
Nothing is An Emergency
When you’re stressed out, when you feel you really destroyed your chance to achieve X or when you get fired and everything seems bleak, stop for a second.
And tell yourself:
Nothing is an emergency
And then go do something that makes you happy or get in touch with someone you love.
The one thing that we too often seem to procrastinate on is relaxing time.
Indeed in my opinion the highest achievers among us will often feel bad even when relaxing, thus they have no relaxing time at all.
It’s time you start planning some time for yourself instead without putting off any further.
It might take a while to get used that relaxing time is an important part of our life. Life for anything else, stick with it and it will eventually become part of who you are.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and It’s All Small Stuff
I absolutely, absolutely love this title. And it summarizes a great approach to life.
Stop being a drama queen, it’s just 90 years on a rock spinning around space. No matter what you do, it’s not gonna matter much anyway.
That’s actually empowering. Chill.
Sometimes Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff felt a bit too goody-goody Pollyanna to me.
Happiness Before Achievement… ??
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff seems simplistic in its approach to life and “happiness” sometimes. It says not to worry too much about “achieving” because you might forget of more important things in your life like your own peace of mind and your family. And those are what will make you happy.
But what about people who are happy while they strive to achieve as much as possible (read Be Obsessed or Be Average)? Or those people who can’t not strive to achieve (read Relentless).
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff shares a great life philosophy. I know many people -and you probably do too- that take things often way too seriously.
This book can help you take a step back and, well, chill a little bit more.
I remember in high school, when most people were trying to copy for their homework or stressing about the grade. And I’d write my own paper without even willing to copy. Or I’d say about grades: “it’s just a number, who cares”.
Well, I basically always had the attitude that Don’t Sweat the Small Things preaches.
So this book struck a chord with me.
I totally agree with it. But at the same time, I don’t live according to it because I also enjoy achieving my goals and progressing.
Like I explain in Ultimate Power, that’s the power of holding two conflicting thoughts in your mind. Something I’d invite you to do as well if you want to achieve while living a happy and fulfilling life.
So albeit I don’t live like the book recommends, I still have that same philosophy and can only recommend it to you.