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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men

Simple Ways to Minimize Stress in a Competitive World

by Richard Carlson
Review © 2001 by Bert H. Hoff


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Richard Carlson, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress in a Competitive World (New York, NY: Hyperion, 2001). Order on-line

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men book cover
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men: Simple Ways to Minimize Stress in a Competitive World
by Richard Carlson
Order on-line

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Couples book cover
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Couples: Ways to Be More Intimate, Loving and Stress-Free in Your Relationship
by Richard Carlson
Order on-line


Excerpted from Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men : Simple Ways to Minimize Stress in a Competitive World by Richard Carlson. Copyright © 2001. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1. Have an Affair

I thought the title of this strategy would grab your attention and would be a great place to begin this book!

Okay, not that kind of affair!

The kind of affair I'm talking about is a love affair with life. If there's one thing I've noticed that seems to be lacking in many men, it's a passion for life. It seems that many of us have lost that sense of wonder and awe for the incredible gift of life itself. We've become lost in the multitude of responsibilities, ambitions, drive, and commitments. We've become very serious and heavyhearted. Many of us have lost our sense of humor and our perspective. We've lost our compassion, as well. Instead of marveling at it all, we take life for granted. We become stuck in the mundane and succumb to boredom. It's as if we're doing nothing more than putting in time and going through the motions.

Life is slowly passing us by. Without a genuine sense of enthusiasm, a zest for life and a lighthearted spirit, we take our problems and obstacles too seriously. We become uptight and a drag to be around. More than anything else, we start sweating the small stuff. Life starts to bother us instead of amusing us. People are seen as burdens instead of as gifts. Challenges are dreaded instead of seen as opportunities.

The solution to all of this is to have an affair with life. The idea is to reignite your passion for living, and to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Remind yourself how precious and how short this adventure really is. I read a great book called A Parenthesis in Eternity. What a great way to think about the duration of your life -- as a blip on a passing screen. We're here for a moment in time -- and then we're gone. Why waste one second on self-pity, frustration, irritation, and all the rest? Our lives are so much more important than that.

It's shocking what happens to the quality of your life when you put it into this perspective. All of a sudden, the things that seemed so big seem small. And the things that seemed so small -- and the things we postpone and take for granted -- seem so big! We see that, for the most part, we usually prioritize in reverse order. But we can change all that in a moment. We can make a shift right now.

The things that we so often attach importance to are important, but it's a question of degree. Success, perfection, achievement, money, recognition -- you can have them all, but they're not everything. In fact, without a passion and appreciation for life, they don't amount to much.

I was talking to a group of men about this subject. A few days later, I received a call from one of them that sums up the essence of this strategy. He said that while we were talking, he had thought that my "intentions" were good, but that I didn't really understand how serious and important his "role" was to everyone.

As fate would have it, while driving home that evening, his life changed in a single moment. He was nearly clipped by a huge truck on the freeway. He wasn't hurt, but it was a very close call. The near miss brought forth the insight that he hadn't spent virtually any time with any of his three children in several years, and that they were growing up very quickly. For the first time in years, tears came down his face as he realized that he was missing the point of life -- as well as his chance to live it. When he arrived at home, he sat down with his family and told them that he was going to be making some changes in his life, beginning with appreciating his family. He had had a major change of heart.

Although this type of realization often has to do with family, it's not just about family. It's even larger than that. Recognizing the miracle of life -- and having an affair with it -- means that you being to attach great value to the moments of everyday life. The people you live and work with -- and, for that matter, go grocery shopping with -- all take on far more importance. Nature appears more beautiful, life is more precious, "things" and conveniences are more appreciated. You become, not less effective, but less demanding on others and on yourself, because you better understand the relative importance and significance of the events around you. Things won't get to you so much, and you won't be sweating the small stuff -- at least, not as often!

An affair with life is real, and it can happen to anyone at any time. All it takes is the commitment to reflect upon the miracle of life itself and to remember, each day, how lucky we are to be alive. Think about what it means to wake up in the morning and have "another day to live". Some day, that won't be the case. In the meantime, live each day like it really matters -- because it does.

One final note on this subject. Needless to say, an affair with life will never get you into any trouble with your wife or girlfriend. On the contrary, they will appreciate your change of heart as much as you do. So have fun.

Copyright © 2001 Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

From Publishers Weekly
Carlson (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, etc.) is back, with 100 brief chapters of advice, many of which acknowledge the male psyche. For example, men have told him that doing service feeds the soul, so he reminds readers to have a special cause. He also advises men to avoid letting their competitive natures rule their lives and to maintain their male friendships after they get serious with a woman. The chapter "Take Your Wife's Advice" makes clear that Carlson is targeting readers who are part of a nuclear family. Then again, a good number of chapters offer more gender-neutral advice: cast your choices in a positive light ("be in favor of simplicity" rather than "against clutter and chaos"); keep a spare set of keys and a wallet with a credit card and some cash, so that losing these items won't be catastrophic. There's inevitable repetition if read from cover to cover Carlson advises readers to do something nice for others and to be more generous, and to practice mindfulness and be present but this book is meant to be read in inspirational snippets. The author's "half full" outlook will indeed inspire and soothe: readers should "calculate the number of things that went right today" and observe that there's no bad weather, "only different kinds of good weather." Life, he reminds us, is "too precious to take for granted."

Publisher's Book Description
The Don't Sweat the Small Stuff titles are #1 national bestsellers, with over sixteen million copies in print. Now Richard Carlson shows men how to relieve stress, and gain more peace and joy in their lives, with such strategies as:

--Have an Affair
--Spend More Time with Your Kids
--Learn About Life from Golf
--Don't Let Your Competitive Nature Get the Best of You
--See Stress as Non-Sexy

His simple yet incredibly powerful essays will help men to relax, to be more happy and fulfilled, and to not sweat the small stuff?

About the Author
Richard Carlson, Ph.D., is the author of the bestselling books Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff about Money; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Family; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens; and coauthor (with his wife Kris) of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love. He is a frequent guest on many national television and radio programs, and lectures to enthusiastic audiences around the country and internationally.


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