If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen a very enthusiastic book review on my story raving about Richard Carlson’s book, ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…. and it’s all small stuff.’ I love it so much, that I’ve decided to dedicate a whole blog to it, choosing ten of my favourite lessons and putting them into my own words. Let’s start with the most obvious …
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I believe making an effort to not sweat the small stuff, can enhance your life in SO many ways. It helps you become more present, it allows you more time to focus your energy on the things in life that actually matter, you become a more pleasant person to be around and you don’t run the risk of making the small things any worse. How often do we blow small inconveniences out of proportion? Richard talks about how it may start with something as simple as a stranger cutting in front of you in traffic. Rather than let it go and go on with our day, we convince ourselves that we are justified in our anger. Do you ever play out an imaginary confrontation in your mind? I sure have! What’s scary, is that our mind can’t tell the difference between imagination and real life, so while you’re playing out this confrontation, your mind believes you’re fighting with someone, and your energy puts itself on a negative frequency, opening you up to attract negative circumstances, people and things. When someone skips the line, your phone wasn’t plugged in properly, you bang your knee or loose $10, choose to see it differently. Allow it to just, go. When someone else is the reason for your anger, choose to see them and the situation with compassion. It’s not worth wasting your energy on it.
Remind Yourself that When You Die, Your “In Basket” Won’t Be Empty.
I loved this one. Basically what Richard is saying, is why do we all stay up late, get up early, avoid having fun, budget like crazy and keep our loved ones waiting in the hope to somehow get everything done. I’m guilty of obsessing over my to-do list and striving to get absolutely everything on it done. While sometimes I will tick off everything and get a temporary feeling of relief and fulfilment, the ‘in basket’ will soon be full again. It’s natural to convince ourselves that once our to-do list is complete we will feel relaxed and happy, but there’s always going to be something else. I think having a to-do list is great! I also think moving forward, ticking boxes and being productive is great. But sometimes, obsessing over getting things done leaves us feeling stressed, it takes us away from people or occasions that matter and we miss out on opportunities because we’re not present, going with the flow or flexible. So I think we should all ask ourselves… what is most important? It might be different for you, but mine is family, friends, health and happiness. I’m going to do my best to put my to-do list after those four aspects!
3. Don’t Interrupt Others or Finish Their Sentences
I think this is a really important one, as it’s something a lot of us do, but may not notice. This is actually a really destructive habit, because when you interrupt others, the conversation can go from a relaxed, respectful and interesting discussion, to a fast-paced, exhausting and competitive discussion. Another lesson in Richard’s book is letting others be right, and I think that comes into play here as well. When someone else is speaking, let them speak, let them take the glory, let them have the attention. The respect you will gain from that person, is far better than the few seconds of fulfilment you might get while you interrupt and give your point. When you hurry someone along, finish their sentence or interrupt, you have to then keep track of your own thoughts and their thoughts as well, how exhausting! Conversations are supposed to be enjoyed, so do yourself a favour and catch yourself out next time you feel the need to interrupt. You’ll notice all of your interactions improve as a result of this simple act. The people you communicate with will relax around you, and they will feel heard and listened to. You will gain a huge amount of respect in your relationships because of this and you will also enjoy these interactions, rather than rushing through them.
4. Do Something Nice for Someone Else - and Don’t Tell Anyone About It.
Oh Richard! He just makes so much sense! Many of us do nice things for others, but we are almost certain to mention our acts of kindness to someone else, secretly seeking their approval. Acts of kindness are incredible and I encourage you to be kind, think of others and act on those thoughts, but as Richard says, there is something magical about doing something for someone and not mentioning it to anyone, ever. What is amazing is to give, and to not expect anything in return. When we tell others about our acts of kindness, that is essentially what we are doing. We’re expecting something in return, some acknowledgement, some attention or maybe some kindness back for ourselves. When you give, you feel amazing and get warm and fuzzy feelings immediately. These feelings are your reward! Next time you do something nice for someone, don’t tell anyone and revel in these feelings. Take advantage of the good feelings and energy that surrounds you, and use that to attract more incredible and positive things into your life!
5. Set Aside Quiet Time, Every Day
Richard says, there is something rejuvenating and peaceful about being alone and having some quiet time to reflect, work, or simply enjoy the quiet and I completely agree! Our lives are filled with so much noise, conversation, TV’s, confusion, phone calls, social media notifications and confrontations. Spending time alone in a quiet space, with your phone away can mean the difference in a productive, calm and flowing day versus a stressful, fast paced and confusing day. When people say things like ‘I’ve been so busy,’ or ‘it’s been a stressful week,’ we are taught to admire or even validate their behaviour. What about the people who have the same amount of things going on in their lives but manage their time, live a calm life and don’t constantly talk about how stressed and busy they are? I think that should be admired. Setting aside quiet time each day may seem like a big task. But it can be as little as a 3 minute meditation, 10 minutes alone in your room, a 20 minute yoga session, or a few pages of journaling. I, like Richard, notice a huge difference in my day when I don’t set aside quiet time for myself. When I do take a few minutes to just be, my days flow, everything is manageable, and my mind is clear.
6. Seek First to Understand
In Richard’s book, he explains that “seek first to understand’ implies that you become more interested in understanding others and less in having other people understand you. It means ‘mastering the idea that if you want quality, fulfilling communication that is nourishing to you and others, understanding others must come first’. We should be genuinely interested in those who are around us, so this shouldn’t take a huge amount of effort. We are all so different, so it’s actually quite interesting to understand someone else’s point of view, whether you believe it to be wrong or right. When you make an effort to understand others, you become a more compassionate, loving and of course, understanding human. This will have you feeling better about yourself and will improve your relationships, as people will grow a huge amount of respect for you, because of the respect that you’re showing them. It’s normal to perform this in reverse, where we feel we need to be understood to prove a point or to explain ourselves, but this won’t do you, the other person or the conversation you’re having any positive favours. It will become a competitive and up-tight atmosphere, where two people are oblivious to each others needs. When I started to understand the why’s behind people’s doing, not only did I experience the positive feelings I mentioned above, but I started to understand the reason behind why I say and do certain things! This allowed me to slow down, be kinder to myself and work on aspects I realised I need to.
7. Choose Your Battles Wisely.
Richard says, ‘if you choose your battles wisely, you’ll be far more effective in winning those that are truly important.’ There are definitely times where arguing, proving a point or fighting for something you believe in are valid. However, many people do this when it’s really not needed. Starting a fight, or proving your point over something small, can escalate very quickly, and all of a sudden you might be thinking, ‘if I didn’t get angry at my partner for leaving the dishes out, this huge confrontation we’re now having could have been avoided’. Don’t risk changing small, inconvenient experiences into life changing, negative experiences. If you live a life where you allow yourself to get frustrated over every little thing, you will loose track of what is actually relevant, resulting in miss-communication and poorly made decisions. There are always going to be people who see things differently, people who disagree with you and things that don’t work out. ‘If you fight against this principle of life, you’ll spend most of your life fighting battles.’ Life is way too short for that! If you want to live a relatively stress free life, make a conscious decision to choose your battles wisely. You will live a more peaceful life yourself, and people will feel relaxed around you, knowing that you’re carefree and willing to let things go.
8. Practice Humility
‘Humility and peace go hand in hand. The less compelled you are to try to prove yourself to others, the easier it is to feel peaceful inside.’ Proving yourself doesn’t have many benefits at all, but unfortunately it seems to be a natural reflex, where we think we have to prove we are good enough, competent enough, kind enough or experienced enough. Proving yourself takes a lot of energy, and it often comes across as bragging. Why do we feel we need to convince others of our worth as a human being? We don’t. You never should feel as though you need to prove yourself. Of course when you’re in a job interview, at a networking event or on a date, it’s natural to want to impress the person, letting them know of your accomplishments, but continually pointing out your achievements and seeking approval from others isn’t going to do you any favours. It’s funny, because the less you care about seeking approval, the more approval you seem to get. ‘Most people love a person who doesn’t need to brag, a person who shares from his or her heart and not from their ego.’ When something amazing happens in your life, of course you want to tell people, and do! Just make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons, not to prove yourself, not to brag or not to make others jealous, because bragging actually dilutes the positive feelings you receive from the accomplishment in the first place.
9. Think of What You Have Instead of What You Want
Richard has been a stress consultant for over a dozen years, and he says that the most pervasive and destructive mental tendency is focusing on what we want instead of what we have. ‘It doesn’t seem to make any difference how much we have; we just keep expanding our lists of desires, which guarantees we will remain dissatisfied.’ I have found that myself and others around me have thoughts like, ‘I’ll be happy when my bank account reaches X amount’, ‘I’ll be relaxed when we go on our holiday’, ‘I’ll be confident when I reach X kilograms’ or ‘I’ll feel fulfilled once I finish this degree.’ I want to encourage my readers to enjoy the process because whether you’re studying, loosing weight or saving, when you reach this certain goal you won’t be finished. There will always be something else. Be proud of yourself along the way for milestones you hit! Celebrate small steps to make the process worth it! ‘Happiness can’t be found when yearning for new desires,’ but there is a way to be happy! And that is gratitude for what you have now. When you focus on what you have, instead of what you want, you’re automatically using gratitude to attract your desires. Gratitude is the highest form of vibrational energy - use this to your advantage. Feeling satisfied is an incredible feeling, and no matter where you’re at in your life, you have the option to feel completely satisfied by changing your mindset. Appreciate what you have now, because there’s nothing worse than looking back and thinking you should have enjoyed a time that you didn’t.
10. Think of Your Problems as Potential Teachers
Gabby Bernstein says ‘obstacles are detours in the right direction,’ and I cannot agree with this more. Every problem we face teaches us something, whether it’s patience, confidence, it could bring us closer to our purpose or help us grow. Only you hold the power to choose how to perceive your problems. You can choose to fear them, see them as a nuisance and resent them, resisting the problem all together, or you can choose to embrace them, trusting that the Universe has your back and that the problems will resolve effortlessly and leave you with new lessons and opportunities. You’ll find that maintaining this mindset, lifts a weight off your shoulders. Accept that life brings problems, but change that negative to a positive, and see them as teachers. Almost treat them like an assignment to overcome, it’s exciting to see what’s on the other side, because there’s always a reward in self growth.
If you liked this blog, please hit the love heart! There are 100 lessons in this book, so I can do a follow up blog with another 10 if you liked it!
Thanks for reading, Cleo xx