Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

Everyday, tell at least one person something you like, appreciate or admire about them.

iuri melo
iuri melo

Howdy there friends, I'm privileged to be here to remind myself and you as well, to exercise your personal perspective, to clean up our personal lenses a bit, and to direct our energy, intelligence, wisdom, and efforts toward those things that are of the greatest worth, and that are deserving of our very best attempts.

This week's focus is all about helping you respond to life more gracefully, it's all about lightening up, and not sweating the small stuff... and it's all really small stuff. Richard Carlson wrote quite a few of these best selling books before he passed, in fact, there is a good chance if you look through some old books you've got laying around your house, that you'l find one... or two... i did.

The focus of his books is all about altering our perspective, and transforming our approach to life... moving away from being reactive, rushing, over-dramatizing, and making our lives a constant state of emergency, constantly striving, pruning, tightening, cleaning, managing the perceptions of others, chasing people's approval, and in general living a life in state of want, needing more and more, never experiencing the peace and contentment of living...

because we are always lacking at home, at work, with family, with friends... man that just sounds hellish!

Let's fix this right?

Well, here are some tips that may be of use to you.

In his many books, Richard gives many suggestions, for today's purposes, I'm going to pick 3 that have captured my attention, and that I feel are relevant to our time right now.

I hope you enjoy them, and perhaps you can text me back what you feel are your best "don't sweat the small stuff" strategies and techniques.

1-Everyday, tell at least one person something you like, appreciate or admire about them. I'm reminded of some words that I heard a while ago that for whatever reason, struck me deeply, perhaps it was something I desired at the time... but it spoke of the deep need and desire that we have to "hear a kind word" directed toward us. My daughter told me of such an experience just a few days ago, when a brave girl simply complemented her, and how she viewed her as a good friend... such a simple phrase... a few words strewn together... haphazardly, and yet the emotional impact was deep, memorable, edifying... that's it, make your conversations with others edifying, encouraging, and inspiring. Is there something that is stopping us from doing this? Are we fearful that it makes us vulnerable, exposed a bit, soft, weak, perhaps we are fearful that it won't be reciprocated... whatever the reason, can we lift our sights above our fear, and do something that is good for heaven's sake! All you need is this: 1- pay attention, observe, watch a bit; 2-look for the good (it's everywhere I promise... every stinkin' where), look for goodness in people; and 3- Say it... open your mouth, and express something you admire, like or appreciate! Listen to me, you've got this!

2-Don't take your moods too seriously (and I would add, don't take other people's moods too seriously either... in other words, allow people to feel other things beyond ease and happy). Richard stated "The key is to be grateful for our good moods, and graceful in our low moods. Remember that emotions are constantly in motion, that's why they are called Emotions. This is an essential part of therapy for me, and those whom i've treated over the years... I'm always seeking to change the relationship between ourselves and our feelings... and also our thoughts. The more accepting we are of our thoughts and feelings... the less we try to harness them, cajole them, manipulate them, repress them, deny them, fight against them... the larger we make them, and the more likely we are to become stuck and overly condemning of how we feel... receive your emotions gently, express them, acknowledge them, observe them a bit... is there something that needs to be done? Something that needs to be talked about? Then continue on, let it ride along with you for a while, and watch it fizzle out, and likely become something else entirely. Its' quite interesting really! Of course there are mood disorders, which impact the frequency, and intensity of emotions to the point that managing them seems very difficult... but even in those circumstances, learning how to respond and treat our emotions in a gentler and less combative way, will have a dramatic impact, and will ultimately soften their impact upon our felt experience, and behavior.

3-Resist the urge to criticize. You can really join this to suggestion number one, and make it a total package. Richard made a statement in his book that stuck with me, he said "I find that those who are in the habit of criticizing and correcting others are often resented and avoided." But I think there is even a deeper casualty.... Your joy. Your habit (and I think it's interesting that he called it a habit - something that we've practiced... or that was practiced on us) of correcting and critiquing makes it difficult to be loving, to enjoy life where we are or who we are with, it makes it hard to be happy, to be peaceful, in part because nothing is ever well, something is always lacking. I've also found that most of our criticism is based on ideas or opinions that we have made early in life... opinions that we will spend a lifetime proving to be right... these opinions naturally grow and develop into "how we think that life should be... where we should live... how we should be treated...and how we think that other people should live." These ideas are subtle, cleverly disguised as the truth and as things that we believe we must have, or deep needs,... but honestly, many of them are not primal or essential needs... they are preferences, they are likes and dislikes. So what is the solution? Well can begin by - when we feel the urge to critique or complain - we can slow the process down, maybe we can ask ourselves a question "is this just a preference, or is it a need? Will it matter in 5 days, in 5 months, 5 years from now?" If not, then we are not looking at a psychological principal or spiritual truth... just a preference.... Now this doesn't mean that it can be expressed, it can, and perhaps we should be brave enough to express it, but because it is not a need or a critical part of the truth of life, we will express it as a preference, a wish, something we would like, instead of criticising. I'm reminded of John Gottman, the famed relationship researcher, who categorized criticism as one of the "four horseman of the apocalypse" Criticism being #1, followed by defensiveness, contempt, and finally stonewalling... criticism being the kindling for the other four. Gottman says that criticism is an attack on a person's character, not a criticism of their behavior, but your partner's whole person, this usually shows up in relationships in the form of "you always, and you never" statements, which I have certainly found myself falling into that pattern of communication, and almost always, it leads to defensiveness and hurt... John's solution to this pattern of communication isn't to just be quiet and ignore all of our wishes, but it is to express them as requests, or wishes, or preferences... I definitely have some work to do in this area... Let us remember instead that being listened to and understood are one of the greatest desires of our heart and soul - it's possible tha the seat of love is truly born here,... the opposite... being ignored, rejected, and misunderstood are likely our greatest sources of emotional sorrow. So because we understand ourselves and our urge to criticise better, we can now resist this urge, and as a result, begin to deflate some of the energy in our complaints and criticisms.

4-Think of your problems as potential teachers... this is a key philosophy and doctrine about life... it's one of the perspective that Richard feels is essential to removing the fatal and emergency all the time out of life... It makes sense. When we view our life and every experience as a process, an important process, then we change how we related to those experiences... Winston Churchil's words ring true here "faillure is not fatal, success is not final" helps us to see that within every experience are the seeds of growth, improvement, even motivation, Carlson says "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. Life is a process--just one thing after another. When you lose it, just start again."

5-And 5, practice loving kindness. I'm reminded of Paul's scriptural writings whenever i think of kindness "Paul put it candidly, but very hopefully. He said to all of us: Let "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but [only] that which is good ... [and] edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another." I like that Richard referred to this as something that we practice, instead of something that should just be natural for all of us. I urge you as a friend to make this incremental change in your life, and practice more loving kindness... place it at the forefront of your mind... tattoo it upon your heart, and engrave it in your hands, so that when the millions of daily opportunities arise, you may practice loving kindness which will encourage internal and external peace.

My dearest friends, this week, alter your perspective... and practice these skills as a way to stop sweating the small stuff, and bringing some much needed peace into your life.