Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“In life, never spend more than 10 percent of your time on the problem, and spend at least 90 percent of your time on the solution. Most important, don’t sweat the small stuff… and remember, it’s all small stuff!” ~ Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within
The following is an excerpt from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. In it, Dr. Carlson shares a mastery mindset technique that will teach you how to stay calm when things break (because things will break) so that occurrences like that don’t break your day! …It’s all in the mindset. Enjoy!
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This is a Buddhist teaching that I learned over twenty years ago. It has provided me, again and again, with greatly needed perspective to guide me toward my goal of a more accepting self.
The essence of this teaching is that all of life is in a constant state of change. Everything has a beginning and everything has an end. Every tree begins with a seed and will eventually transform back into earth. Every rock is formed and every rock will vanish. In our modern world, this means that every car, every machine, every piece of clothing is created and all will wear out and crumble; it’s only a matter of when. Our bodies are born and they will die. A glass is created and will eventually break.
There is peace to be found in this teaching. When you expect something to break, you’re not surprised or disappointed when it does. Instead of becoming immobilized when something is destroyed, you feel grateful for the time you have had.
The easiest place to start is with the simple things, a glass of water, for example. Pull out your favorite drinking glass. Take a moment to look at and appreciate its beauty and all it does for you. Now, imagine that same glass as already broken, shattered all over the floor. Try to maintain the perspective that, in time, everything disintegrates and returns to its initial form.
Obviously, no one wants their favorite drinking glass, or anything else, to be broken. This philosophy is not a prescription for becoming passive or apathetic, but for making peace with the way things are. When your drinking glass does break, this philosophy allows you to maintain your perspective. Rather than thinking, “Oh my God,” you’ll find yourself thinking, “Ah, there it goes.” Play with this awareness and you’ll find yourself not only keeping your cool but appreciating life as never before.
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If you enjoyed this short Buddhist teaching and want to read more, you can find more quotes, resources, and info from the book below:
Book Overview: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff is a book that shows you how to keep from letting the little things in life drive you crazy. In thoughtful and insightful language, author Richard Carlson reveals ways to calm down in the midst of your incredibly hurried, stress-filled life. You can learn to put things in perspective by making the small daily changes he suggests, including advice such as “Think of your problems as potential teachers”; “Remember that when you die, your ‘In’ box won’t be empty”; and “Do one thing at a time.” With gentle, supportive suggestions, Dr. Carlson reveals ways to make your actions more peaceful and caring, with the added benefit of making your life more calm and stress-free.
Imagine that everyone is enlightened except you.
This strategy gives you a chance to practice something that is probably completely unacceptable to you. However, if you give it a try, you might find that it’s one of the most helpful exercises in self-improvement.
As the title suggests, the idea is to imagine that everyone you know and everyone you meet is perfectly enlightened. That is, everyone except you! The people you meet are all here to teach you something. Perhaps the obnoxious driver or disrespectful teenager is here to teach you about patience, the punk rocker might be here to teach you to be less judgmental.
Your job is to try to determine what the people in your life are trying to teach you. You’ll find that if you do this, you’ll be far less annoyed, bothered, and frustrated by the actions and imperfections of other people. You can actually get yourself in the habit of approaching life in this manner and, if you do, you’ll be glad you did.
Often, once you discover what someone is trying to teach you, it’s easy to let go of your frustration. For example, suppose you’re in the post office and the postal clerk appears to be intentionally moving slowly. Rather than feeling frustrated, ask yourself the question, “What is he trying to teach me?” Maybe you need to learn about compassion – how hard it would be to have a job that you don’t like. Or perhaps you could learn a little more about being patient. Standing in line is an excellent opportunity to break your habit of feeling impatient.
You may be surprised at how fun and easy this is. All you’re really doing is changing your perception from “Why are they doing this?” to “What are they trying to teach me?” Take a look around today at all the enlightened people.
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Source: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
…And some simple, yet profound ways to keep the little things from taking over your life.
“We deny the parts of ourselves that we deem unacceptable rather than accepting the fact that we’re all less than perfect.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“Effective listening is more than simply avoiding the bad habit of interrupting others while they are speaking or finishing their sentences. It’s being content to listen to the entire thought of someone rather than waiting impatiently for your chance to respond.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“One of the mistakes many of us make is that we feel sorry for ourselves, or for others, thinking that life should be fair, or that someday it will be. It’s not and it won’t. When we make this mistake we tend to spend a lot of time wallowing and/or complaining about what’s wrong with life. “It’s not fair,” we complain, not realizing that, perhaps, it was never intended to be.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“True happiness comes not when we get rid of all of our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice, and to learn.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“If we would just slow down, happiness would catch up to us.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“Something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around. 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. Then, as you move around, try new things, and meet new people, you carry that sense of inner peace with you. It’s absolutely true that, ‘Wherever you go, there you are.'” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“As long as you think more is better, you’ll never be satisfied.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“The truth is, in order to experience a feeling, you must first have a thought that produces that feeling.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
“As you put more emphasis on being a loving person, which is something you can control – and less emphasis on receiving love, which is something you can’t control – you’ll find that you have plenty of love in your life.” ~ Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff