Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff

I just finished reading the book entitled "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff" by Richard Carlson, PH.D. Within the first 10 minutes of the book I had many "ah-ha" moments. This book is now my latest obsession of putting good habits into practice.

As I read the book over a period of 3 weeks I began talking about it constantly. I was astonished to learn that many of my friends had already read the book years ago. To my surprise, I had never heard anyone talk about the book in conversation. Until one day, I called a friend asking her for advice on purchasing a few books as gifts. She immediately suggested this book to me and also suggested that I purchase a copy for myself. I took her suggestion and have not stopped talking about the book since. I find this book so useful that I feel I obliged to pass on it's logical value.

There are multiple chapters in the book that proved to have practical guidance. It would be difficult and too long to list all the chapters that I found helpful, so I will name two to tempt you:

Chapter 89 "If Someone Throws You the Ball, You Don't Have to Catch It".
This is particularly difficult for me because I am someone who really enjoys helping others. I have friends and family who rely on me to help them in various ways and I like to feel needed. However, I am a firm believer that if you take a task or problem on, you do not have the right to complain about it.

This chapter really hit home with practical advice. To quote directly from the book it says "Remembering that you don't have to catch the ball is a very effective way to reduce the stress in your life. Even something terribly simple like answering your phone when you're really too busy to talk is a form of catching the ball. By answering the phone, you are willingly taking part in an interaction that you may not have the time, energy or mind-set for at the present time. By simply not answering the phone, you are taking responsibility for your own peace of mind. The same idea applies to being insulted or criticized. When someone throws an idea or comment in your direction, you can catch it and feel hurt, or you can drop it and go on with your day".

Powerful stuff, right? I can think back on numerous occasions when I really should not have answered my phone but felt obligated to for a variety of reasons. Well, what may have followed after that was requests or demands of my time. It is far more logical to be humble and know your limits. As this book teaches, "life is not an emergency".

Chapter 90 "One More Passing Show".
"Every experience you have ever had is over. Every thought you've ever had, started and finished. Every emotion and mood you've experienced has been replaced by another. You've been happy, sad, jealous, depressed, angry, in love, shamed, proud, and every other conceivable human feeling. Where did they all go? The answer is, no one really knows. All we know is that, eventually, everything disappears into nothingness. Welcoming this truth into your life is the beginning of a liberating adventure."

I especially liked this chapter because it is very easy to focus on emotions when you are a person with feelings of empathy and are sensitive to the feelings of others around you. Yet, everything has a beginning and and end. It is the same thought of "This too shall pass". Once you realize that you aren't destined to suffer from the blues forever, you might be able to sit back and relax when they come. And when you are feeling blissful and carefree, enjoy the moment to the fullest. For it will surely be followed by disappointment or sadness. As the book reminds us, it is just life happening. The quicker you accept all the emotions life has to offer--accomplishments and disappointments--the easier the bad experiences will pass and the good ones will be appreciated.

I also appreciated that this book is made up of 100 short chapters of about 2 pages each. This is great quick reading meaning that you can enjoy the book in small doses. You don't have to read it cover to cover in one week. Take your time, enjoy and let the information sink in. After all, rushing to finish the book would be a contradiction to the title of the book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff". Enjoy!

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