Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson – Notes, Quotes and Highlights

Do Something Nice for Someone Else-and Don’t Tell Anyone About It

One should give for the sake of giving, not to receive something in return.

“Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans.”

Mark Twain said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Your job is to try to determine what the people in your life are trying to teach you.

From “Why are they doing this?” to “What are they trying to teach me?”

“Do I want to be ‘right’-or do I want to be happy?”

In the bigger scheme of things, being late is “small stuff.”

If you look deeply enough, you can almost always see the innocence in other people as well as in potentially frustrating situations.

What’s before me-my present challenge-isn’t “life or death” but simply a minor obstacle that must be dealt with.

The way to be happy is to let go, and reach out.

Ask Yourself the Question, “Will This Matter a Year from Now?”

Allow Yourself to Be Bored

I find myself laughing at things that I used to take far too seriously.

“People are no longer human beings. We should be called human doings.”

if you allow yourself to be bored, even for an hour-or less-and don’t fight it, the feelings of boredom will be replaced with feelings of peace. And after a little practice, you’ll learn to relax.

Much of our anxiety and inner struggle stems from our busy, overactive minds always needing something to entertain them, something to focus on, and always wondering “What’s next?”

It’s almost as though we’re frightened at the thought of not having something to do, even for a minute.

When you allow your mind to take a break, it

comes back stronger, sharper, more focused and creative.

Lower Your Tolerance to Stress

You’ll notice that the people who say, “I can handle lots of stress” will always be under a great deal of it!

When you’re feeling out of control and resentful of all you have to do, rather than roll up your sleeves and “get to it,” a better strategy is to relax, take a few deep breaths, and go for a short walk.

Once a Week, Write a Heartfelt Letter

Part of the value of the letter is to gear your thinking toward gratitude.

Write your first letter this week. I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.

Repeat to Yourself, “Life Isn’t an Emergency”

The first step in becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you’re creating your own emergencies.

Life will usually go on if things don’t go according to plan.

Spend a Moment Every Day Thinking of Someone to Thank

The more genuinely grateful I feel for the gift of my life, the more peaceful I feel.

If you wake up in the morning with gratitude on your mind, it’s pretty difficult, in fact almost impossible, to feel anything but peace.

Smile at Strangers, Look into Their Eyes, and Say Hello

You’ll also notice how nice and grateful people can be

when you’re the first one to reach out.

Set Aside Quiet Time, Every Day

When I set aside quiet time for myself, it makes the rest of my day seem manageable.

Become a Better Listener

Everyone loves to talk to someone who truly listens to what they are saying.

Choose Your Battles Wisely

A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone.

If you don’t want to “sweat the small stuff,” it’s critical that you choose your battles wisely.

Become Aware of Your Moods and Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Fooled by the Low Ones

Remind yourself, “Of course I’m feeling defensive [or angry, frustrated, stressed, depressed]; I’m in a bad mood.

The next time you feel low, for whatever reason, remind yourself, “This too shall pass.” It will,

Life Is a Test. It Is Only a Test

“Life is a test. It is only a test. Had this been a real life you would have been instructed where to go and what to

it reminds me to not take my life so seriously.

If, on the other hand, you see each new issue you face as a serious battle that must be won in order to survive, you’re probably in for a very rocky journey.

Rather than struggling with your issue, see if there is something you can learn from it.

Praise and Blame Are All the Same

Rather than feeling rejected by disapproval, you can remind yourself, “Here it is again. That’s okay.”

I always prefer approval over disapproval. It feels better and it’s certainly easier to deal with. The more content I’ve become, however, the less I depend on it for my sense of well-being.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Often a single act of kindness sets a series of kind acts in motion.

giving is fun and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

If we all do our own part, pretty soon we will live in a nicer world.

Know that when the postal clerk is moving slowly, he is probably having a bad day, or perhaps all of his days are bad.

When your spouse or close friend snaps at you, try to understand that, beneath this isolated act, your

loved one really wants to love you, and to feel loved by you.

Underneath even the most annoying behavior is a frustrated person who is crying out for compassion.

when you’re not frustrated by the actions of others, it’s a lot easier to stay focused on the beauty of life.

Your heart, the compassionate part of you, knows that it’s impossible to feel better at the expense of someone else.

Each time you resist “being right,” and instead choose kindness, you’ll notice a peaceful feeling within.

“If you had an hour to live and could make only one phone call-who would you call, what would you say, and why are you waiting?”

The less you care about seeking approval, the more approval you seem to get.

It will bring you far more joy to your life to know that you have done your part and someone else in your family has one less thing to do,

Weatherproofing means that you are on the careful lookout for what needs to be fixed or repaired.

The less often you weatherproof your partner or your friends, the more you’ll notice how super your life really is.

Spend a Moment, Every Day, Thinking of Someone to Love

“Thinking of someone to love each day keeps your resentment away!”

Then I ask myself the question, “Who shall I send love to today?”

As “being interested, without judgment, in the way other people choose to live and behave.”

Becoming an anthropologist is a way of becoming less frustrated by the actions of others.

Can’t believe they would do that,” instead say something to yourself like “I see, that must be the way she sees things in her world. Very interesting.”

Judging others takes a great deal of energy and, without exception, pulls you away from where you want to be.

Head with limitations that will frighten you from trying. In order to become a writer or anything else, the first step is to silence your greatest critic-you.

The fact that we can’t see the beauty in something doesn’t suggest that it’s not there.

Doesn’t make you weak to soften your positions. In fact, it makes you stronger.

Just for Fun, Agree with Criticism Directed Toward You (Then Watch It Go Away)

I’ve since learned that reacting to criticism never makes the criticism go away.

Next time someone offers you an opinion, rather than judge or criticize it, see if you can find a grain of truth in what the person is saying.

Instead of becoming immobilized when something is destroyed, you feel grateful for the time you have had.

“Wherever You Go, There You Are”

wherever you go, you take yourself with you!

The significance of this statement is that it can teach you to stop constantly wishing you were somewhere else.

If you’re constantly wishing things were different, these identical tendencies will follow you, wherever you go.

As you focus more on becoming more peaceful with where you are, rather than focusing on where you would rather be, you begin to find peace right now, in the present.

Breathe Before You Speak

The happiest person on earth isn’t always happy.

Happiest people all have their fair share of low moods, problems, disappointments, and heartache.

They accept their feelings, knowing that this too shall pass.

He doesn’t really care because he knows that, in due time, he will be happy again. To him, it’s no big deal.

Know that if you don’t fight your negative feelings, if you are graceful, they will pass away just as surely as the sun sets in the evening.

58. Relax

Most of us postpone relaxation until our “in basket” is empty. Of course it never is.

You can relax now. It’s helpful to remember that relaxed people can still be superachievers and, in fact, that relaxation and creativity go hand in hand.

You have a choice in how you respond to life.

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.

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.”

The next time you feet stressed out,

Remind yourself that life isn’t an emergency

Read Articles and Books with Entirely Different Points of View from Your Own and Try to Learn Something

A closed mind is always fighting to keep everything else at arm’s length.

For just a few minutes a day-whatever your slant on life-try making a gentle effort to read articles and/or books with different points of view.

Do One Thing at a Time

When you do too many things at once, it’s impossible to be present-moment oriented.

An interesting exercise is to block out periods of time where you commit to doing only one thing at a time.

Be present in what you are doing. Concentrate.

First, you’ll actually enjoy what you are doing,

Second, you’ll be amazed at how quickly and efficiently you’ll get things done.

It all starts with your decision to do one thing at a time.

When you feel yourself getting angry, take a long, deep inhalation, and as you do, say the number one to yourself.

Repeat the same process with the number two, all the way through at least ten (if you’re really angry, continue to twenty-five).

The combination of counting and breathing is so relaxing that it’s almost impossible to remain angry once you are finished.

How nice it would be if we too could be calm and serene in the midst of chaos-in the eye of the storm.

You’ll notice that by being in the eye of the storm, you will be more present-moment oriented.

Be Flexible with Changes in Your Plans

inflexibility creates an enormous amount of inner stress and is often irritating and insensitive to other people.

“What’s more important, getting what I want and keeping my plans, or learning to go with the flow?”

I’ve also found it helpful to expect that a certain percentage of plans will change.

If I make allowances in my mind for this inevitability, then when it happens I can say, “Here is one of those inevitabilities.”

Think of What You Have Instead of What You Want

It doesn’t seem to make any difference how much we have; we just keep expanding our list of desires, which guarantees we will remain dissatisfied.

The mind-set that says “I’ll be happy when this desire is fulfilled” is the same mind-set that will repeat itself once that desire is met.

Happiness can’t be found when we are yearning for new desires.

Instead of complaining about your salary, be grateful that you have a job.

Each time you notice yourself falling into the “I wish life were different” trap, back off and start over. Take a breath and remember all that you have to be grateful for.

And, if by some chance you don’t, you’ll have a great life anyway.

learning to take your negative thoughts less seriously, is infinitely more effective in terms of learning to be more peaceful.

That’s all it is, a thought! It can’t hurt you without your consent.

You’ll find, in all cases, that if you ignore or dismiss a negative thought that fills your mind, a more peaceful feeling is only a moment away.

The people closest to us know us the best.

If we are too proud, or stubborn to learn, we lose out on some wonderful, simple ways to improve our lives.

Be Happy Where You Are

Many of us continually postpone our happiness indefinitely.

The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

Whatever you practice most is what you will become.

Sadly, many people spend far more time washing their car or watching reruns of television shows they don’t even enjoy than they do making time for aspects of life that nurture their hearts.

Inner peace translates into outer peace.

As little as five to ten minutes a day, you can train your mind to be still and quiet.

I don’t know many people I would consider to be at peace with themselves who haven’t spent at least a little time experimenting with meditation.

Make Service an Integral Part of Your Life

I begin my day by asking myself the question, “How can I be of service?”

The best way to be of service is often very simple-it’s those little, quiet, often unnoticed acts of kindness that I can choose on a daily basis

As I have attempted to integrate service into my life, I have felt better and better about the way I choose to live.

“Giving is its own reward.”

Do a Favor and Don’t Ask For, or Expect, One in Return

you’ll notice (if you’re quiet enough inside yourself) a beautiful feeling of ease and peace.

Think of Your Problems as Potential Teachers

How much of a problem do we make our problems?

When we accept our problems as an inevitable part of life, when we look at them as potential teachers, it’s as if a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

Rather than push away the problem and resist it, try to embrace it.

Could it be teaching you to be more careful or patient?

“I’m feeling frightened and that’s okay.”

When you no longer think of your negative feelings as a big deal, or as something to fear, you will no longer be as frightened by them.

Opening to the totality of your being is like saying to yourself, “I may not be perfect, but I’m okay just the way I am.”

Life is a process-just one thing after another.

“Woops, I lost it again. Oh well, next time I’ll handle it differently.”

When we are in the habit of blaming others, we will blame others for our anger, frustration, depression, stress, and unhappiness.

In terms of personal happiness, you cannot be peaceful while at the same time blaming others.

When you stop blaming others, you will regain your sense of personal power.

An hour or two that is reserved just for you-before your day begins-is an incredible way to improve your life.

By the time my wife and children wake up, I feet as though I’ve had a full day of enjoyment.

Remember, One Hundred Years from Now, All New People

what’s it going to mean one hundred years from now?

one hundred years from now, no one will remember this moment, no one will care.

The root of being uptight is our unwillingness to accept life as being different, in anyway, from our expectations.

The first step in recovering from overseriousness is to admit that you have a problem. You have to want to change, to become more easygoing.

To hold on is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.

Don’t expect your day to be problem free. Instead, as problems come up, say to yourself, “Ah, another hurdle to overcome.”

Transform Your Relationship to Your Problems

when life is too easy, there are fewer opportunities for genuine growth.

Listen to Your Feelings (They Are Trying to Tell You Something)

Try to recognize that the reason you’re feeling sad, angry, stressed, or whatever is that you are taking life too seriously-you are “sweating the small stuff.”

Remember, life isn’t an emergency unless you make it so.

All we know is that, eventually, everything disappears into nothingness. Welcoming this truth into your life is the beginning of a liberating adventure.

Unhappiness is the result of struggling against the natural flow of experience.

Fill Your Life with Love

“the shortest distance between two points is an intention.”

Our attitude, choices, acts of kindness, and willingness to be the first to reach out will take us toward this goal.

Love is its own reward.

Realize the Power of Your Own Thoughts

The next time you’re feeling upset, notice your thinking-it will be negative. Remind yourself that it’s your thinking that is negative, not your life.

you can get to the point where you treat your negative thoughts in much the same way you would treat flies at a picnic: You shoo them away and get on with your day.

Give Up on the Idea that “More Is Better”

As long as you think more is better, you’ll never be satisfied.

the problem doesn’t lie in what you don’t have, but in the longing for more.

You can learn to be happy with what you have by becoming more present-moment oriented, by not focusing so much on what you want.

Keep Asking Yourself, “What’s Really Important?”

“What’s really important?” As part of my early morning routine, I take a few seconds to ask myself this question.

life isn’t always (or even rarely is) the way we would like it to be-it is simply the way it is.

When you surrender to the moment, accept what is going on, make it okay, more peaceful feelings will begin to emerge.

You search for ugliness you’ll find plenty of it.

If you look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, you can train yourself to see it.

If you wait until all your chores, responsibilities, and everything else is done before you get started, it will never happen.

You live each day as if it were your last on this earth.

Published by

Forever Winter

Just reading and writing my way out of this messy adult life! I have transitioned from having piles of notebooks stacked underneath my bed from writing on the internet and allowing people worldwide to read.

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