This week, someone gave me a book by the above title written by Richards Carlson, PH.D. It’s fun to read and contains anecdotes which show that most of the things we fret and worry about in life are small stuff, and how if we put them in perspective, we will live a less stressful life. I am halfway gone reading the book and I thought to share two touching anecdotes from the author’s personal experience as narrated in the book.
‘Recently, my wife and I were discussing a business idea that had turned out really well. I was talking about ‘my’ idea clearly taking credit for our success! Kris in her usual manner,allowed me to have all the glory. Later that day, I remembered that the idea was actually her idea, not mine, Whoops! When I called her to apologize, it was obvious to me that she cared more for my joy than she did her own need to take credit. She said that she enjoys seeing me happy and that it doesn’t matter whose idea it was. (Do you see why she’s so easy to love?)’
The other anecdote: ‘About a year ago, a foreign publisher contacted me and requested that I attempt to get an endorsement from best-selling author Dr.Wayne Dyer for a foreign edition of my book You Can Feel Good Again
And I told them that while Dr. Dyer had given me an endorsement for an earlier book, I had no idea whether or not he would consider doing so again. I told them, however, that I would try. As is often the case in the publishing world, I sent out my request but did not hear back. After some time had gone, I came to the conclusion that Dr. Dyer was either too busy or unwilling to write an endorsement. I honored this decision and let the publisher know that we wouldn’t be able to use his name to promote the book.I considered the case closed.
‘About six months however, I received a copy of the foreign edition and to my surprise, right on the cover was the old endorsement for the earlier book from Dr.Dyer. Despite my specific instructions to the contrary, the foreign publisher had used his earlier quote and transferred it to the new book. I was extremely upset,and worried about the implication and the possible consequences. I called my literary agent, who immediately contacted the publisher and demanded that the books be taken off the shelves.
‘In the meantime, I decided to write Dr. Dyer an apology explaining the situation and all that was being done to rectify the problem. After a few weeks of wondering what his response might be, I received a letter in the mail that said the following: Richard,there are two rules for living in harmony. #1 Don’t sweat the small stuff. and #2, It’s all small stuff. Let the quote stand. Love, Wayne.”
I hope the above stories got you interested enough to get the book. In the section titled ‘Choose Your Battles Wisely, Dr Carson mused ‘Does your preference of which restaurant or movie to go matter enough to argue about it? Does a small scratch on your car really warrant a suit in a small claims court? Does the fact that your neighbor won’t park his car on a different part of the street have to be discussed in your family dinner table? These and thousands of other small things are what many people spend their lives fighting about. Take a look at your own list, if it’s like mine used to be, you might want to reevaluate your priorities.’
Dr. Carlson’s book apart, I find that making excuses for people and trying to find the rationale behind their actions help me understand them better and reduce my anger and stress level. Once, I was waiting at the red light when the car behind me apparently impatient kept honking their horn. Once the light turned green, they overtook me and sped past me as if to show me how pissed they were at my (sluggishness?). For some reason the thought came in my head that the driver probably had his wife in the car going through labor and they were rushing to the hospital. Once I thought about that possibility, every bitterness (and possibly low self-esteem) I felt went away and I was happy for the rest of the day.
People may not be in a position to explain to us why they do the things that get to our skin but if they did, I believe that about 75% of the time, we would find that there is really no reason to be mad at them. That if roles were reversed, we would probably do the same. So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of giving in to road rage you may rationalize their action by remembering that they may be running late for a job interview.
Finally, I lost my mum-in-law in June. She never sweated the small stuff. In my tribute to her I wrote that ‘when she had a choice to be right or to be kind, she chose to be kind.’ Another daughter-in-law wrote ‘she was a mother-in-love, not mother -in-law.’ May God grant her eternal rest. She was Mrs. Bridget Mmeje.
P:S What works best for you in dealing with stress? Please share and let’s learn from you.