This is a compilation of thoughts and quotes that I have found or written recently, as well as many that I've collected throughout the years. Most thoughts are posted randomly, as I feel inspired. A listing of quotes can be found alphabetically (check the 2008 and 2009 archives listing), or by source.

Feel free to suggest additions!

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” – Proverbs 23:7

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Excerpts from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson, Part 3

This is the final follow-up to excerpts Parts 1 and 2 (see links below) from Richard Carlson's great little book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".

Turn your melodrama into a mellow-drama.  I've found that simply reminding myself that life doesn't have to be a soap opera is a powerful method of calming down.

The stubbornness it takes to keep our heart and mind closed to everything other than our own point of view creates a great deal of inner stress.

Be present in what you are doing.

When you feel yourself getting angry, take a long, deep inhalation, and as you do, say the number one to yourself.  Then, relax your entire body as you breathe out.  Repeat the process with the number two, all the way through at least ten.

Practice being and living in the eye of the storm.

Inflexibility creates enormous amount of inner stress and is often irritating and insensitive to other people.

The question to ask yourself is, What's really important?

Clearly, to become a more peaceful person, you must prioritize being flexible over rigidity most of the time (obviously, there will be exceptions).

Happiness can't be found when we are yearning for new desires. 

Rather than wishing you were able to take a vacation to Hawaii, think of how much fun you have had close to home.  Each time you notice yourself falling into the "I wish life were different" trap, back off and start over.  Take a breath and remember all that you have to be grateful for.  When you focus not on what you want, but on what you have, you end up getting more of what you want anyway.  Start thinking more about what you have than what you want.

Practice ignoring negative thoughts.  [Rather than analyzing your thoughts], learning to take your negative thoughts less eriously, is infinitely more effective in terms of learning to be more peaceful. 

That's all it is, a thought!  It can't hurt you without your consent.  You can give the thought significance in your mind, and you'll convince yourself that you should indeed be unhappy.  Or, you can recognize that your mind is about to create a mental snowball, and you can choose to dismiss the thought.

In a more peaceful state of mind, your wisdom and common sense will tell you what to do.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.  If not now, when?  Your life will always be filled with challenges.  It's best to admit this to yourself and to decide to be happy anyway.

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to bein - real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way, somehing to be got through first, some unfinished business, time  still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." - Alfred D'Souza

There is no way to happiness.  Happiness is the way.

If you are in the habit of being uptight whenever life isn't quite right, repeatedly reacting to criticism by defending yourself, insisting on being right, allowing your thinking to snowball in response to adversity, or acting like life is an emergency, then, unfortunately, your life will be a reflection of this type of practice.  You will be frustrated because, in a sense, you have practiced being frustrated.

You can choose to bring forth in yourself qualities of compassion, patience, kindness, humility, and peace, through what you practice.  If you remember that what you practice you will become, you may begin choosing different types of practice.

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." - Pascal

I am certain that a quiet mind is the foundation of inner peace.

The trick to becoming an effective meditator is to be gentle on yourself and to be consistent.  Don't be discouraged.  A few minutes each day will reap tremendous benefits, over time.

Take up yoga.  Although yoga is physical in nature, its benefits are both physical and emotional.  On the physical side, yoga strengthens the muscles and the spine, creating flexibility and ease of motion.  On the emotional side, yoga is a tremendous stress reducer.  It balances the mind-body-spirit connection, giving you a feeling of ease and peace.

When you give, you also receive.  In fact, what you receive is directly proportional to what you give.  As you give more freely of yourself in your own unique ways, you will experience more feelings of peace than you ever thought possible.  Everyone wins, especially you.

Just as vigorous exercise releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel good physically, your acts of loving kindness release the emotional equivalent.

The amount of stress we feel has more to do with how we relate to our problems than it does with he problems themselves.

When we accept our problems as an inevitable part of life, when we look at them as potential teachers, it's as if a weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

Whatever problems you're dealing with, chances are they could be thought of in a softer way that includes a genuine desire to learn from them.

If we keep our cool and stay open to possibilities, we can be reasonably certain that, eventually, all will be well.

When you open to the totality of your being you no longer have to pretend that your life is perfect, or even hope that it will be.  Instead you can accept yourself as you are, right now.

When negative characteristics arise you can begin to recognize them as part of a bigger picture.

There will be many times when you lose it, when you revert to being uptight, frustrated, stressed, and reactive - get used to it. When you do, it's okay.  Life is a process - just one thing after another.  When you lose it, just start again.

In terms of personal happiness, you cannot be peaceful while at the same time blaming others.  Surely there are times when other people and/or circumstances contribute to our problems, but it is we who must rise to the occasion and take responsibility for our own happiness.

When you're unhappy, remind yourself that only you can make yourself happy.

Blaming makes you feel powerless over your own life because your happiness is contigent on the actions and behaviors of others, whiich you can't control.  When you stop blaming others, you will regain your sense of personal power.  You will see yourself as a choice maker.

A little less sleep and a little more time for you might be just what you need to combat your sense of fatigue.  The fulfillment you experience more than makes up for any sleep you miss out on.

You have to want to change, to become more easygoing.  You have to see that your own uptightness islargely of your own creation - composed of the way you have set up your life and the way you react to it.

One of the goals of spiritual life and one of the requirements of inner peace is to learn to love unconditionally.  Love has such transformational power.  Unconditional love brings forth peaceful feelings in both the giver and the receiver.

Practice not needing them to change or be different to receive your love.  Love them just the way they are.

True happiness comes not when we get rid of all our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice patience, and to learn.  Perhaps the most basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems are the best places to practice keeping our hearts open.

"Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and suffereings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly fulfilled." - Tibetan prayer

If you spend less time running away from problems and trying to rid yourself of them - and more time accepting problems as an inevitable, natural, even important part of life - you will soon discover that life can be more of a dance and less of a battle.

If being peaceful and loving are among your primary goals, then why not redefine your most meaningful accomplishments as being those that support and measure qualities such as kindness and happiness?The true measure of our success comes not from what we do, but from who we are and how much love we have in our hearts.

Contrary to popular belief, negative feelings don't need to be studied and analyzed.  When you analyze your negative feelings, you'll usually end up with more of them to contend with.

Try to recognize that the reason you're feeling sad, angry, stressed, or whatever is that you are taking life too seriously - you are "sweating the small stuff".

Developing a more tranquil outlook on life requires that we know our own limits and that we take responsibility for our part in the process.

Our disappointment comes about in essentially two ways.  When we're experiencing pleasure we want it to last forever.  It never does.  Or, when we're experiencing pain, we want it to go away - now.  It ususally doesn't.  Unhappiness is the result of struggling against the natural flow of experience.

If you're experiencing some type of pain or displeasure, know that this too shall pass.

The starting point of foundation of a life filled with love is the desire and commitment to be a source of love.  Our attitude, choices, acts of kindness, and willingness to be the first to reach out will take us toward this goal.

As you put more emphasis on being a loving person, which is something you can control - and less emphasis on receiving love, which is something you can't control - you'll find that you have plenty of love in your life.  Soon you'll discover one of the greatest secrets in the world:  Love is its own reward.

Unhappiness is the feeling that accompanies negative thinking about your life. There is nothing to hold your negative feelings in place other than your own thinking.  Remind yourself that it's your thinking that is negative, not your life.

Learning to be satisfied doesn't mean you can't, don't or shouldn't ever want more than you have, only that your happiness isn't contingent on it.

An excellent measure of happiness is the differential between what you have and what you want.  You can spend your lifetime wanting more, always chasing happiness - or you can simply decide to consciously want less.

Be open to "what is".  The greater our surrender to the truth of the moment, the greater will be our peace of mind. When we have preconceived ideas about the way life should be, they interfere with our opportunity to enjoy or learn from the present moment.

We see in life what we want to see.  If you search for ugliness you'll find plenty of it.  If you look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, you can train yourself to see it.

We argue for our limitations, and they become our limitations.

Please don't forget the most basic strategy of all, Don't sweat the small stuff!


See also:

Part 2 - Excerpts from "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".html

Part 1- Excerpts from "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff".html

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