Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff is a book that tells you how to keep from letting the little things in life drive you crazy. In thoughtful and insightful language, author Richard Carlson reveals ways to calm down in the midst of your incredibly hurried, stress-filled life.
He shares some strategies–things you can start doing today–that will help you respond to life more gracefully. They represent the path of least resistance. Each strategy is simple, yet powerful, and will act as a navigational guide to point you in the direction of greater perspective and more relaxed living. Here are 5 strategies.
When ‘you don’t sweat the small stuff’, your life won’t be perfect, but you will learn to accept what life has to offer with far less resistance. As we learn in the Zen philosophy, when you learn to ‘let go’ of problems instead of resisting with all your might, your life will begin to flow.
I’m confident that if you give these strategies a try, you will learn the two rules of harmony:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- It’s all small stuff.
As you incorporate these ideas into your life you will begin to create a more peaceful and loving you.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren’t really that big a deal. We focus on little problems and concerns and blow them way out of proportion. A stranger, for example, might cut in front of us in traffic. Rather than let it go, and go on with our day, we convince ourselves that we are justified in our anger. We play out imaginary confrontation in our mind. Many of us might even tell someone else about the incident later on rather than simply let it go.
Why not instead simply allow the driver to have his accident somewhere else? Try to have compassion for the person and remember how painful it is to be in such an enormous hurry. This way, we can maintain our own sense of well-being and avoid taking other people’s problems personally.
2. Make peace with imperfection
I’ve yet to meet an absolute perfectionist whose life was filled with inner peace. The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility conflict with each other. Whenever we are attached to having something a certain way, better than it already is, we are, almost by definition, engaged in a losing battle. Rather than being content and grateful for what we have, we are focused on what’s wrong with something and our need to fix it. When we are zeroed in on what’s wrong, it implies that we are dissatisfied, discontent.
This strategy has nothing to do with ceasing to do your very best but with being overly attached and focused on what’s wrong with life. It’s about realizing that while there’s always a better way to do something, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy and appreciate the way things already are.
3. Let go of the idea that gentle, relaxed people can’t be superachivers
One of the reasons so many of us remain hurried, frightened, and competitive, and continue to live life as if it were one giant emergency, is our fear that if we were to become more peaceful and loving, we would suddenly stop achieving our goals. We would become lazy and apathetic.
You can put this fear to rest by realizing that the opposite is actually true. Fearful, frantic thinking takes an enormous amount of energy and drains the creativity and motivation from our lives. When you are fearful or frantic, you literally immobilize yourself from your greatest potential, not to mention enjoyment. Any success that you do have is despite your fear, not because of it.
4. Develop your compassion
Nothing helps us build our perspective more than developing compassion for others. Compassion is a sympathetic feeling. It involves the willigness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to take the focus off yourself and to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s predicament, and simultaneously, to feel love for that person. It’s the recognition that other people’s problems, their pain and frustrations, are every bit as real as our own–often far worse. In recognizing this fact and trying to offer some assistance, we open our own hearts and greatly enhance our sense of gratitude.
Compassion is something you can develop with practice. It involves two things: intention and action. Intention simply means you remember to open your heart to others; you expand what and who matters, from yourself to other people. Action is simply the ‘what you do about it.’
5. Learn to live in the present moment
To a large degree, the measure of our peace of mind is determined by how much we are able to live in the present moment. Irrespective of what happened yesterday or last year, and what may or may not happen tomorrow, the present moment is where you are–always!
Many people live as if life were a dress rehearsal for some later date. It isn’t. In fact, no one has a guarantee that he or she will be here tomorrow. Now is the only time we have, and the only time that we have any control over. When our attention is in the present moment, we push fear from our minds.
Complement Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff with Pursue Life, Liberty, and Meaningfulness. Tom Rath reveals the three keys that matter most for our daily health and well-being, as well as our engagement in our work.