Dating / Marriage / Parenting / Relationships / Special Needs Parenting

Summary of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s all Small Stuff”

This book tells you how to find inner peace. It is a phenomenal book. The author, Dr. Richard Carlson, gives many practical tips on how to be less stressed and more peaceful. I think this book could also be called “how to be happily married” and “how to have great relationships with anyone”. The principles Dr. Carlson teaches are SO SO good.

I listened to this book the first time I read it. And I highly recommend that you listen to it because the author reads it himself. He has a really mellow, peaceful, relaxing voice and it really adds to the principles he is trying to teach: namely, how to have a peaceful, joyful life.

Dr. Richard Carlson gives 100 good tips for achieving peace and joy in life. I will list them below, with some commentary from myself. I will also bold the ones I especially like. But you really should buy the book because it is just that good!

100 tips for living a peaceful life:

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff. Most things that we worry and stress over don’t even matter.
  2. Make peace with imperfection. No perfectionist is ever going to achieve inner peace. Let go of your need for things to be perfect. Try to accept and love things as they are – which is always imperfect.
  3. Let go of the idea that gentle, relaxed people can’t be superachievers.
  4. Be aware of the snowball effect of your thinking. One negative thought can easily lead to more and more, so try to catch yourself and stop the snowball.
  5. Develop Compassion. Developing compassion for other people and their problems helps you to stop obsessing over your own problems. It gives you more gratitude and perspective.
  6. Remind yourself that when you die, your in-basket will not be empty. There is always more things to do. So try to find peace even when you still have things to do.
  7. Don’t interrupt others or finish their sentences. This will allow others to feel heard. They won’t feel like you are in a hurry to say what you want to say. People will love it if you stop interrupting them. It will also help you be more peaceful.
  8. Do something nice for someone else – and Don’t tell anyone about it. Telling someone else about it feeds our egos – which diminishes a part of the good feelings from doing something nice.
  9. Let others have the glory. Let other people have the glory of their egos. Everyone wants to feel special and important. When someone shares something, don’t respond with something wonderful you have done too. Just let the other person have the glory.
  10. Learn to live in the present moment.
  11. Imagine that Everyone is Enlightened except you. This principle teaches you to try and see what others can teach you.
  12. Let others be “right’ most of the time. Allow other people to believe that they are right. Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong. So just let other people believe that they are right.
  13. Become more patient.
  14. Create “Patience Practice Periods”. Practice being patient. See if you can be patient for 10 minutes. Then try for 15 minutes.
  15. Be the first to act loving or reach out.
  16. Ask yourself the question: “Will this matter a year from now?”
  17. Surrender to the fact that Life isn’t Fair. Life is not fair. Just accept this. If you accept that life is not fair, then you won’t be mad when things don’t go your way.
  18. Allow yourself to be bored. Spend time each day not doing anything. Be bored. Often we get way too busy. Our minds needs a rest.
  19. Lower your tolerance for stress. Most people feel like they need to develop the ability to handle more and more stress. Heightening their tolerance for stress. But Dr. Carlson recommends the opposite. Lower your tolerance for stress. See how not stressed you can be.
  20. Once a week, write a heart-felt letter. Write a thank you letter to someone each week. This will direct your mind towards the good and being grateful.
  21. Imagine yourself at your own funeral.
  22. Repeat to yourself: “Life isn’t an emergency.”
  23. Experiment with your back burner.
  24. Spend a moment every day thinking of someone to thank.
  25. Smile at strangers, Look into their eyes, and say Hello.
  26. Set aside quiet time, every day.
  27. Imagine the people in your life as tiny infants and as one hundred year old adults.
  28. Seek first to understand.
  29. Become a better listener.
  30. Choose your battles wisely.
  31. Become aware of your moods and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the low ones. Don’t worry about your low moods. Everyone has low and high moods. When we are in a low mood, everything seems awful. When we are in a high mood, no one can make us upset. Expect low moods and don’t worry too much about them. They will pass.
  32. Life is a test. It is only a test.
  33. Praise and Blame are all the same. Whether someone praises you or criticizes you, it is all the same. It tells you about the other person. It doesn’t mean anything about you. Are they the type of person that can see the good in people or do they have to criticize?
  34. Practice random acts of kindness.
  35. Look beyond behavior.
  36. See the innocence.
  37. Choose being kind over being right.
  38. Tell three people (today) how much you love them.
  39. Practice humility. Don’t brag about your accomplishments. You will find a sense of inner peace if you don’t brag and talk about yourself.
  40. When in doubt about whose turn it is to take out the trash, go ahead and take it out.
  41. Avoid weather-proofing. Weather proofing people means always looking for their faults.
  42. Spend a moment, every day, thinking of someone to love.
  43. Become an anthropologist. Be an anthropologist when thinking about other people. Ask yourself “I wonder why they do that?” Be interested and curious, not judgmental.
  44. Understand Separate Realities. Expect other people to see things differently.
  45. Develop your own helping rituals.
  46. Every day, tell a least one person something you like, admire, or appreciate about them.
  47. Argue for your limitations, and they’re yours. Your mind will try to find evidence for your thoughts. So if you think “I’m not good at this” then your brain will look for evidence for that and it will happen.
  48. Remember that Everything has God’s fingerprints on it.
  49. Resist the urge to criticize.
  50. Write down your five most stubborn positions and see if you can soften them.
  51. Just for fun, Agree with criticism directed toward you (then watch it go away).
  52. Search for the grain of truth in other opinions
  53. See the glass as already broken (and everything else too).
  54. Understand the statement: “Wherever You go, there you are”.
  55. Breathe before you speak. Take a breath before you speak during a conversation. Let the other person feel heard. Don’t just jump into your opinions after they are done speaking.
  56. Be grateful when you’re feeling good and graceful when you’re feeling bad.
  57. Become a less aggressive driver. Don’t drive aggressively. You will not get there any sooner and it fills you with stress. Instead, take driving as a time to relax, think, or listen to an audio book.
  58. Relax
  59. Adopt a child through the mail.
  60. Turn your melodrama into a mellow-drama. When you are tempted to make small things into big drama, think: “Here I go again. My soap opera is starting.” Laugh at yourself and remember to avoid drama.
  61. Read articles and books with entirely different points of view from your own and try to learn something.
  62. Do one thing at a time. Don’t multi-task.
  63. Count to ten.
  64. Practice being in the “eye of the storm”.
  65. Be flexible with changes in your plans.
  66. Think of what you have instead of what you want.
  67. Practice ignoring your negative thoughts. Bat them away like flies.
  68. Be willing to learn from friends and family.
  69. Be happy where you are.
  70. Remember that you become what you practice most.
  71. Quiet the mind.
  72. Take up yoga.
  73. Make service an integral part of your life.
  74. Do a favor, and don’t ask for, or expect one in return.
  75. Think of your problems as potential teachers.
  76. Get comfortable not knowing.
  77. Acknowledge the totality of your being.
  78. Cut yourself some slack.
  79. Stop blaming others.
  80. Become an early riser.
  81. When trying to be helpful, focus on the little things.
  82. Remember one hundred years from now, all new people
  83. Lighten up
  84. Nurture a plant.
  85. Transform your relationship to your problems.
  86. The next time you find yourself in an argument, rather than defend your position, see if you can see the other point of view first.
  87. Redefine a “meaningful accomplishment”.
  88. Listen to your feelings (they are trying to tell you something).
  89. If someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it.
  90. One more passing show.
  91. Fill your life with love.
  92. Realize the power of your own thoughts.
  93. Give up on the idea that more is better.
  94. Keep asking yourself: “What’s really important?”
  95. Trust your intuitive heart.
  96. Be open to what is.
  97. Mind your own business.
  98. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.
  99. Schedule time for your inner work.
  100. Live this day as if it were your last. It might be!

Overall, I thought this book was amazing. For me, it gives some really practical ways to develop patience, love, and inner peace. I am going to be reading this book OVER and OVER again, working on one new thing each time.

There’s more “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” books!

Guess what? I just saw this in the back of my book – apparently there are MORE “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books! It looks like they have one on virtually every subject!


  • dhananjay gade
    May 26, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    hey my name is dhananjay i’m from india

    first of all thank you so much for saving my time.
    i already read this book last year but now in india is under lockdown
    so i thought i should read this book again but i thought i should check summary
    and thank god i got your site luckily i got everything what i want
    thanks again
    dhananjay gade

    • Sage Allen, MS
      June 29, 2021 at 6:39 pm

      You are so welcome!


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