Richard Carlson

Author, psychotherapist and motivational speaker (1961-2006)

Richard Carlson Ph.D. (16 May 196113 December 2006) was an American author, psychotherapist, and motivational speaker. His book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff... and it’s all Small Stuff (1997), was USA Today's bestselling book for two consecutive years and spent over 101 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list.


  • Ask yourself: Is there any way I can become even more loving than I am? Can I fill my heart with more loving kindness? Can you, despite the fact that there are less than perfect people in our world, think loving thoughts about yourself and about others? Spread that love around as far as your mind will allow!

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all Small Stuff (1997)

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff — and It's All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life ISBN 073380084X
  • Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren't really that big a deal. We focus on little problems and blow them out of proportion. … Whether we had to wait in line, listen to unfair criticism, or do the lion's share of the work, it pays enormous dividends if we learn not to worry about little things. So many people spend so much of their life energy "sweating the small stuff" that they completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life.
    • Lesson 1, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
  • Let Go of the Idea that Gentle, Relaxed People Can't Be Superachievers
    • Title of Lesson 3
  • Be Aware of the Snowball Effect of Your Thinking
    • Title of Lesson 4
  • Do Something Nice for Someone Else — and Don't Tell Anyone About It
    • Title of Lesson 8
  • Let Others Have the Glory
    • Title of Lesson 9
  • There is a bumper sticker that has been out for some time now. You see it on cars all across the nation. It says, "Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty." I have no idea who thought of this idea, but I've never seen a more important message on a car in front of me.
    Practicing random kindness is an effective way to get in touch with the joy of giving without expecting anything in return. It's best practiced without letting anyone know what you are doing.
    • Lesson 34, Practice Random Acts of Kindness
  • There is no prescription for how to practice random kindness. It comes from the heart. Your gift might be to pick up litter in your neighborhood, make an anonymous contribution to a charity, send some cash in an unmarked envelope to make someone experiencing financial stress breathe a little easier, save an animal by bringing it to an animal rescue agency, or get a volunteer position feeding hungry people at a church or shelter. You may want to do all these things, and more. The point is, giving is fun and it doesn't have to be expensive.
    • Lesson 34, Practice Random Acts of Kindness
  • Search for the Grain of Truth in Other Opinions
    • Title of Lesson 52
  • Turn Your Melodrama into a Mellow-Drama
    • Title of Lesson 60

What About the Big Stuff (2002)

  • When our familiar world falls apart, especially through the pain of death — of losing someone we love — we are shaken at our very core. We realize, perhaps for the first time, that there is no easy or quick way out. We must go through the process, which will be a little different for each of us — the common thread being pain.
    In the midst of that inner struggle, however, something begins to happen. There are the moments that are most resisted — and there is extreme pain. Simultaneously, however, there are voluntary or involuntary bursts of letting go. Perhaps the pain is too much for the moment — the mind takes a break, shuts down, or wakes up, I’m not really sure. But in those moments, there is a release from the pain; an acknowledgment that although we don’t understand it, and it hurts like hell, the universe somehow knows what it’s doing.
  • One of my favorite sayings comes from Seng-Ts’an. He said, "Our way is not difficult, save the picking and choosing." Entire books and weeklong courses could be developed around these words. The wisdom is simple, but extremely powerful and profound, particularly when dealing with loss. Although it’s so much easier said than done, when we take a step back and a full breath, we can see loss from what I believe is the deepest perspective.
    • Finding Life after Death
  • Our way through life should not be difficult — but it is. The fact is that our lives are filled mostly with picking and choosing. "I want this, but not that." And because things are not anything other than the way they really are, we suffer. Nowhere is this more apparent and painful than when we are trying to find life after death. We so desperately want things to be the way they were. But they are not. So the longing itself becomes an additional source of suffering.
    • Finding Life after Death
  • Healing from a loss is a natural process of life — just as healing from a broken bone is too. Knowing this in the midst of pain is of great comfort.
    If it’s at all possible, don’t be alone. Seek out the comfort and help you need and deserve. This is not the time to be brave or strong. Instead it’s the time to reach out to others and to be open to receive their kindness. It’s your turn. Finding life after death is among the greatest challenges we face. But it is possible, and it will happen for you. I send you my love. :)
    • Finding Life after Death

Fill your Life with Love (2006)

  • The shortest distance between two points is an intention and this is certainly the case when it comes to becoming more loving to oneself and to others. We must first have the desire and then the intention and commitment to be a source of love — this means that rather than waiting for the world to be more loving, we decide that we will be the first one to reach out and act loving — no matter what!

Quotes about Carlson

  • He walked the earth generously spreading as much love and kindness in small ways, as well as big ways, as humanly possible. He was selfless with his heart, generous with his pocketbook, and most of all, he reached out with his spirit. … Please remember that Richard Carlson left his own trail as he walked the earth and lived a life devoted to peace, love, and the betterment of humanity.
  • His work consisted of translating the essence of the world's wisdom traditions into practical, easy-to-remember advice. He didn't just tell people to be kind, patient and grateful, he showed them how to make those values a part of their daily lives.
  • He preached what the Buddha preached, but without the preaching... "Don't take your thoughts too seriously." He called it a thought attack. What you need to do is live in the present.
  • His tenets are less anodyne than they might seem, concentrating as they do on not equating material possessions with happiness, being kind to others, attempting to see others' viewpoints and managing conflict serenely. When I interviewed him in 1998, I was prepared to be cynical. In fact, Carlson was not only likeable and friendly, but realistic. He did not deny the existence of "big stuff" (indeed, in 2002 he published What About the Big Stuff?). However, he claimed, reasonably enough, that we have no right to expect everything else in life to run smoothly.
    "We have come to believe, especially in industrialised Western nations where we are very privileged, that our lives should be perfect," he said. "We feel like we shouldn't have to deal with traffic jams or flat tyres or people who are rude to us."
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