Remember, it’s all ‘small stuff’

Last Friday, I was thinking of the time-sickness our society has and I personally have.
Every day there’s more on my plate than I can possibly do—baking bread, answering e-mails, cleaning the bathroom, going to water aerobics, filing . . . and more filing, putting my feet up for health reasons, calling a good friend, hanging a painting, writing a column, and organizing a messy closet.
All good things to do, but there are always too many tasks to complete in one day.
It reminded me of an e-book I had bought a few months ago by one of my favourite authors, Richard Carlson. So I decided it was time to write about Carlson’s book, “Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out.”
Carlson wrote this book in 1998. He was 37 years old at the time.
A year earlier, he had written his huge best-seller, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” which spent two years on the New York Times’ best-seller list.
In 2004, it was voted one of the top 10 most read books in the past decade.
On a whim, I decided to look up Carlson’s bio and also check what books he had written recently. I was completely shocked to learn Carlson had died in December, 2006 at the age of 45.
It turns out Carlson died of a pulmonary embolism during a flight from San Francisco to New York while on a promotion tour for a recent book.
After learning the news, I had a personal grief experience. Carlson had so much wisdom to give to the world about what it takes to be happy in life. And had given so much to me personally.
By age 45, he already had written 30 books. He had more than 26 million books in print, published in 35 languages in more than 130 countries.
He was a widely sought after speaker around the world, wrote a syndicated column, and often was featured on television. So many, many people benefited from his insights.
Yes, Richard Carlson has left us a wonderful legacy. But the very most important advice he left us is not to let the small things in life get the best of us—and to always have our priorities right.
Still thinking of the time-sickness of our society, I was drawn to one chapter in his book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” (“Remind Yourself that When You Die, Your ‘In Basket’ Won’t Be Empty”).
Writes Carlson, “So many of us live our lives as if the secret purpose is to somehow get everything done. We stay up late, get up early, avoid having fun.”
We often forget that “The purpose of life isn’t to get it all done but to enjoy each step on the way and live a life filled with love.”
Life is not about things and tasks. Life is about relationships—good relationships.
So remember the whole title of Carlson’s book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and it’s all small stuff.”
And also think how different life would be if we all had our priorities right!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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