Posted on Mar 2nd, 2006

“Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff” is what my friend told me at coffee the other day. We were talking about this column and it’s become a bit of a joke when I say “well, I guess I’ll make a list of all the things that stress me for the column this month.” So I shared with her a few of the things that sometimes stress me and that was her response. She’s a dear friend and I know I can always count on her to be honest with me. She has a calendar that reminds her daily not to sweat the small stuff. One of the recent days read ‘Would you rather be right or happy?’ Well, that’s easy – I’d rather be right!! Just kidding! (tee-hee) Of course I’d rather be happy. It’s what our consumer driven society tries to convince us that we’ll achieve if we’d only buy certain products. You know, I’m sure if I asked a lot of people how they would define happiness, I’d get different answers from everyone. Sadly, some of us have made happiness dependant upon something else. You hear people saying, “Well, I’ll be happy when I have $5,000.00 in the bank; when I get a better job; when I meet the right person; when I lose 20 lbs; and the list goes on. They are giving up their power to create happiness in their own life right now because they’ve made it dependant upon something that is future based.

The book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson is one of my all time favourites. This little book is profound in its simplicity and if you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend getting your own copy. The chapters are short and easy to read and it makes so much sense. It’s a great reminder of what is important in life. Some of my favourite chapters are: Chapter 4 – Be aware of the snowball effects of your thinking; Chapter 10 – Learn to Live in the present moment; Chapter 17 – Surrender to the fact that life isn’t fair. If you are experiencing challenges in your life, you’ll be sure to find something in this book that will be enlightening. I wish I could succinctly tell you about all of them in this column.

Life can be challenging. There are those of us who choose to make a big fuss about small things – bit of lint on a counter; a few undone dishes in the sink – the perfectionists among us who feel obliged to focus on insignificant issues. But it’s the rare soul who goes through life problem free. Most of us have experienced some crisis in our lives, and it’s our response to these challenges that can create an opportunity to become a better person. The people who find the strength to move forward have learned that joyfulness comes from within and from being focused on today. We can choose to go through each day and see all the negatives or we can do as Dr. Carlson suggests in his book, and stop focusing on the insignificant things in life. Your happiness lies within and you can experience it now. It’s your choice.

Carole Fawcett is a Stress Management Consultant and Laughter Therapist.

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