Richard Carlson was only 45 when he died in 2006. Yet his legacy of nearly 20 books lives on. In case you are not familiar with the name, you may be familiar with his bestseller: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff.
Carlson offers a perspective that is radical. His basic tenet is that expending too much energy on solving problems can inflate their importance. The result…life can seem like a constant self-help project at best or like a constant emergency at worst. Instead of focusing on the problem, Carlson suggests a dose of perspective. Ask yourself, “How much will this really matter a year from now?” Your answer will probably be something like, “Probably not as much as I think right now.” The point here is that instead of looking to solve your problems, you can cut them down to size by shifting your perspective. As Carlson writes, “True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them.”
How can you get some perspective? Here are some ideas:
- Practice patient periods. Choose to be patient. Resolve not to get wound up by what happens. The more you do this, the more you are building up your perspective muscle.
- Imagine your funeral. Looking back on your life, would you wish you had spent more time stressing about minutiae? Probably not! Then why not allow the small stuff to roll off your back, experiencing peace and contentment.
- Let others be right most of the time. Think about this saying, “The world is divided into people who think they are right.” Yes, everyone thinks they are right, so instead of always taking a stand, resist the urge to correct people, thereby reducing tension and conflict.
Carlson recognized that life isn’t all small stuff. He would be the first to admit that when you are blindsided by some sudden shock, such as bereavement, being told to “keep some perspective” is actually counter-productive. In fact, he also wrote a follow-up book entitled What About the Big Stuff? His primary principle is that life’s mostly small stuff, and our perspective determines whether we experience it that way or not.
Interested in learning more about Carlson’s work? Check out the website www.dontsweat.com.
If you’re experiencing the summer heat and/or humidity, give yourself a break. Don’t add to your sweat. Keep your perspective!