Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Great book: Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff

I received this book as a gift while on vacation. It was a great gift from family members living in the U.S. It is a very easy-to-read kind of book with 100 simple strategies all geared toward increasing our well-being and reducing stress in our daily lives but in a very down to earth, realistic way. 
I 'm sure many of you already read this book and if you haven't I recommend it.

One thing is for sure, it is not one of those self-help books that give the kind of advice impossible to materialize, and that honestly, I don't even want to read. They are a recipe for disaster setting you up for failure when giving instructions impossible to achieve...don't get me started!

Richard Carlson, the author, was a psychotherapist who specialized in stress management. I was very sad to learn that he died in 2006, at the age of 45. Every concept in his book stems from psychological principles that are easy to apply to our daily lives.

These are totally doable strategies. Even the title of the book is calming and gives a little of perspective (don't you think?): "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff... and it's all small stuff ". I really enjoyed reading it so here are seven of the one hundred strategies that really stood out to me, although each and everyone is worth reading.

1. Don't sweat the small stuff. As you may have realized by now, I really like this one. :) It is a lovely reminder that we shouldn't let our negative thoughts take over. The author says : "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...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 and 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. This idea is especially useful for when we focus on the negative, on what's wrong, what needs to be fixed rather than appreciating the "magic and beauty of life", with imperfections, flaws and all.

3. Resist the urge to criticize. Sometimes I catch myself being critical and I really dislike when this happens. It only says bad things about me, luckily I am pretty good, by now, at stopping it! "Criticism, like swearing, is actually nothing more than a bad habit" Carlson says, and that when we criticize "we feel a little deflated and ashamed, almost like you're the one who has been attacked" because we are basically saying that we need to be critical in order to feel better about ourselves. "Hopefully, more often than not, I can turn my criticism into tolerance and respect."

4 Get comfortable with not knowing. This one I find especially powerful when dealing with anxiety. He says: "we blow up scenarios in our minds about all the terrible things that are going to happen. Most of the time we are wrong. If we keep our cool and stay open to possibilities, we can be reasonable certain that eventually, all will be well. "

This is for all of us anxious people! We will be much better off not trying to have everything under control. Life is full of surprises. We better accept this and go with the flow.

5. Become more patient. This is getting difficult, I know. But wouldn't we all be calmer and more peaceful if only we could be a bit more patient? In traffic, for example, or whenever we are late. Carlson recommends breathing and preventing our thoughts to go down on a snowball effect by keeping in mind the "bigger scheme of things". Being late would be "small stuff".  And he also says that we could create patience practice periods. Start small, for five minutes. Then ten and so on. Sounds good to me.

6. Cut yourself some slack. And this is one of the reasons I enjoyed reading this book. You don't need to do each and every one of these strategies. As long as you try and start with one you'll be onto a calmer state of mind. Sometimes you'll succeed but then maybe you won't and it will be fine. You can keep trying whenever it feels good to you.

7. Allow yourself to be bored. Here's a revolutionary concept in this day and age! Choose to be bored once in a while. "The feelings of boredom will be replaced with feelings of peace," says the author. "When you allow yourself to be bored, it takes an enormous amount of pressure off you to be performing and doing something every second of every day." 

I would love to know your thoughts about this.
Have you read this book? 

P.S. Your Thinking is Your View of the World.

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