I have no idea how many times I have read “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson, Ph.D., but it’s a lot.
Carlson was a psychotherapist and motivational speaker. Sadly, he died (pulmonary embolism) on December 13, 2006. He was only 45 years old, but he found enough time to write 25 other books. Some of his other titles include “Shortcut Through Therapy” (Plume, 1995), “Don’t Worry, Make Money” (Hyperion, 1997) and “Slowing Down to the Speed of Life” (Harper Collins, 1998).
I keep the book in the magazine rack (has no actual magazines in it) beside my chair for a quick pick-me-up when I’m feeling particularly disgusted with myself, life, the universe, and everything and anything else you can think of. The book was USA Today’s bestselling book for two consecutive years, and spent over 101 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.
The advice Carlson has to offer is, in many ways, simple and yet also profound.
There are one hundred short chapters. Most are only a page or two long. The book itself is small and only about 250 pages. But Carlson packs a lot into those few pages.
He presents his thoughts with examples from his own life and the lives of others. He is cogent and non-judgmental.
I will often pick up the book and randomly flip to a chapter and read it through. Sometimes it will uncannily apply to what is going on in my life at that precise moment. At others, it is just interesting.
While Carlson touches on many different topics, the book always seems to me to have a main theme. That theme might be summed up as how to find peace and contentment in your life while increasing your compassion and understanding of the people around you.
Just today, I flipped the book open to “Chapter 60: Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama.” He writes: “In dramatic fashion, we blow things out of proportion, and make a big deal out of little things. We forget that life isn’t as bad as we’re making it out to be. We also forget that when we’re blowing things out of proportion, we are the ones doing the blowing.“
He continues with: “I’ve found that simply reminding myself that life doesn’t have to be a soap opera is a powerful method of calming down. When I get too worked up or start taking myself too seriously (which happens more than I like to admit), I say to myself something like, ‘Here I go again. My soap opera is starting.’ Almost always, this takes the edge off my seriousness and helps me laugh at myself.”
The book is copyrighted in 1997 and while some of his solutions and suggestions might seem overly simplistic in the framework of the complicated world we find ourselves in today, I still believe it has value. I know that it has helped me throughout the years and will probably continue to help me in the future as well.
If you are looking for a little inspiration to get you through whatever sort of rough patch you find yourself in right now, I can recommend this book. If nothing else, it will take you outside of yourself for a few minutes and sometimes that is all anyone ever needs.