The late Dr. Richard Carlson’s brilliant little collection of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books offer advice for everyday life. Let’s face it, folks. We live in a fast-paced world where things move quickly and if you aren’t careful, life can pass you by. The Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series is a great reminder of this approach to living a more happy, peaceful life.
The overall message?
Stop. And. Smell. The. Roses. People.
I remember when my husband and I went to Italy on our one-year anniversary many years ago. We were on vacation, away from very demanding jobs, taking in the sights and sounds and flavors of Italy. We found ourselves walking through the streets of Rome, Venice, Florence, Orvieto, Siena, and more hill towns of Tuscany scratching our heads.
“What the hell are we doing wrong back home? We work too hard. Too many hours. Look at these people. They enjoy life. A siesta in the middle of the day! Wine at lunch! A stroll through the park at a leisurely pace! Whhhhaaaattttt!!!!” we said to each other incredulously.
I, for one, am guilty of sweating all the stuff, the big, the small, and the in-between. I can sweat when I should be enjoying, loving, relaxing.
Enter Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, a book to help us not go crazy. This text is not rocket science by any means. However, I liken the use of these books to us having little angels sitting on our shoulders, helping to guide us through days that make us feel less than happy about our present life. Additionally, the books offer suggestions on how to better our own lives and improve upon them.
For example, in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Family, Carlson offers us 100 guidelines. Number 16 is one of my favorites: Allow “White Space” in your calendar. As a former publications/advertising person, I love this rule, and I can totally visualize my calendar having “white space” or room in it. As Carlson puts it, “‘White space is time for you to catch up, or to do nothing at all.” How many times in a day do you have white space? How often do you do nothing at all? I know this summer I have tried very hard to work a little white space into my calendar before things pick up when the semester starts back at the university in a couple of weeks.
Rule #64 is another great one: Take it as it comes. Carlson states, “One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned is that life is rarely exactly as we would like it to be. Instead, life is exactly as it is. Nothing more and nothing less.” This rule helps someone like me who can often endure a panic attack for no apparent reason. He harps on the word ‘acceptance’ over ‘apathy’ and I love this. Acceptance can lead to wisdom. And all of us want to be wise. But learning to accept things for what they are can truly be unburdening.
Rule #59: Remember to show your appreciation. Gosh, we can all take this one for granted, can’t we? For example, someone does something nice for us and we barely acknowledge its pure thoughfulness. This rule reminds us to thank someone and show them that we realize that they went the extra mile for us. Showing gratitude isn’t always high on the totem pole of daily activity, but it’s important to make it so.
Believe me, I could sit here and dissect this book all day, rule by rule, inch by inch, in the most honest and thought-provoking way. But this is a blog, and blogs are meant to be on the short side. I don’t want you stressed over this small thing, you see. (There’s got to be a rule for writing too much and using may too many words somewhere within the text).
Anyway, remember, it’s your life, and these little guidelines are available to be that little angel on your shoulder to help lessen the stress you may feel and lead you to a more gratifying and stress-free life.
If you haven’t picked up your copy of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in a while, pick it up. If you don’t own it, it’s a great little handbook to own. Peruse it. I’m sure something will resonate with you and you may even adjust the way you handle some of life’s most stressful situations and learn to accept things for what they are—without sweating over it.
Have any favorite Small Stuff rules that are your personal favorites? Feel free to share with other readers in the comments section of this post. I’d love to hear which rules speak to you.