Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Women: Simple and Practical Ways to Do What Matters Most and Find Time for You

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If you're like most women, "hectic" is how life is on the good days.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Part of the #1 national best-selling series Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, this guide will escort you through the twists and turns of the everyday with a healthy dose of practical wisdom, calm spirits, and good humor.

With more than 12 million copies sold and still going strong, the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series has helped ...

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If you're like most women, "hectic" is how life is on the good days.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Part of the #1 national best-selling series Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, this guide will escort you through the twists and turns of the everyday with a healthy dose of practical wisdom, calm spirits, and good humor.

With more than 12 million copies sold and still going strong, the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series has helped countless readers rethink the way they address life's big and small problems.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In this refreshing addition to the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff franchise, Kristine Carlson offers women a treasury of inspiration to overcome the petty things that can get in the way of living a full and joyful life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An easy-to-read collection of short essays meant to uplift and inspire soccer moms everywhere, this addition to the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series offers nothing more nor less than its predecessors. Carlson (whose husband, Richard, wrote the original book) joined him in writing Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love. This time, she relates many first-person stories from her own life and those of her friends in a just-between-us-girls tone that's based in part on gender stereotypes (e.g., "our gift of female intuition"; "our sensitive natures"). Her chatty pep talks cover such topics as comparing oneself to media images, overextending oneself, preventing and coping with stress and learning to say "no." Carlson advises women to appreciate their children's "fleeting" childhoods, to speak and listen from a place of love, to swallow angry words and gossip, to take time for themselves, to nurture friendships with other women and to keep tabs on their financial position and marketability in case they lose their spouse through death or divorce. Unfortunately, she misses a few good opportunities to offer important information, as in her breezy entries on PMS and mammograms. Aimed at people whose problems are mostly "small stuff," this small tome offers little to offend and much to calm and comfort. (Apr.) Forecast: Though probably destined to join the other Don't Sweat the Small Stuff titles on the bestseller list, this one faces more competition than the first books in the series did, and may not match their numbers in the long-term. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567319170
  • Publisher: MJF Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Series: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Series
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 610,890
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristine Carlson is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love. She has been a guest on numerous national radio and television shows including MSNBC, Fox, and The View with Barbara Walters. She has run several successful businesses and has a passion for meditation and yoga. She has been married to bestselling author Richard Carlson for 15 years and, together, they have studied and taught personal growth and human potential. She is a dedicated mother who enjoys horseback riding, running, and sharing time with her children. She and Richard live in Northern California with their two daughters.
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Read an Excerpt



I saw a bumper sticker that said: "I am Woman. I am invincible. I am tired." Girlfriend, doesn't that say it all? Where do we women get the idea that we have to be perfect and do everything with the gusto and grace of Wonder Woman? There's no harm in giving everything you do the best you have to offer, but when your expectations are too high and your head hurts or your hair feels as though it could fall out, you need to consider wishing the Wonder Woman in you goodbye.

The key to this strategy is threefold. One, let go of the notion that you can do it all. When you can't accomplish everything on your list, that doesn't mean you're inadequate. Two, be willing to ask for help when you need it. Three, be willing to make changes when your system fails. If you can do these three things, you have begun to say goodbye to Wonder Woman!

I remember thinking that I would be the kind of woman who could easily balance motherhood, career, and outside interests, as well as have a perfect marriage. I did a pretty good job until our second daughter, our lovely Kenna, came along. Then my system failed and became out of balance. Kenna was one of the sweetest babies ever created. She was, however, an ear infection infant, and ran high fevers often. Dosed with antibiotics, she was sick a great deal of the time. Day care was out of the question; I wouldn't dream of having someone else care for my sick child. But Richard and I were running out of answers.

Finally, a solution came to me one stressed—out morning. As I finally quieted down, I realized that I was trying to maintain an image that was now totally out of control, andthat was bigger than I had energy for or that I ever imagined it would be. It was as if a lightbulb went on; it became obvious that it was time to wish Wonder Woman goodbye—and that's exactly what I did!

I began to think it was time for my first career change; I was going to go from graphic designer to home manager. Although it wasn't the best of times financially, we decided that our family would be better served if I took a leave of absence from my business. I knew that this was probaby going to close a chapter in my personal history, and it wasn't going to be easy, as change rarely is. However, I decided that I needed to prioritize my family's needs (and sanity) over my own need to hold on to the "Wonder Woman" who thought she could handle running a business during nap times. It was just too much!

After the initial adjustment, I figured out that taking care of our two daughters full—time was a lot of fun, even if it meant less money—and it was so much more gratifying without the frustration of having a work schedule to attend to.

Stress is a very real phenomenon, but consider how much of it you create for yourself. If your husband's income alone is not enough to adequately provide for your family, then your only choice may be to go to work. On the other hand, if your husband's income is ample, yet you choose to work, and you're constantly stressed—out and made miserable by your job—well, in my book, that's a different story.

It might sound as if I'm making the case that all mothers should stay home with their children instead of working. I'm not. All I'm saying is that all of us need to take a look at our lives as circumstances change, and reflect on our priorities. As big events occur—bringing babies home from the hospital, having ill parents, or tending a sick child, for instance—we can't just expect our lives to go on as usual. We need to evaluate whether or not our current lifestyle best serves us, and if not, to navigate our way in a new direction by making small shifts and adjustments. Being stressed—out to the max virtually all the time is not giving your family the best you have to offer, because there's no way the material things you provide will replace your sanity, and that of your family.

If, on the other hand, you can create some flexibililty in your work schedule when needed, and you have excellent help, and all the family members are thriving, good for you—you've found a balance that works.

Keep in mind that Wonder Woman thinks she can do everything and be all things to everyone, all at once! She never says, "No, but thanks for asking," when asked to volunteer her time. She can't set limits, and she continues to add more and more to her calendar without letting go of anything. She darts here and there, leaving a frenetic trail of busyness. She adds one more committee to her list, or one more pet. She never says no to a lunch date or social request—unless, of course, she's already booked. She always takes in houseguests. Does she have a family? Well, if not, you can bet she plans on squeezing one into her schedule! Whatever her reasons, she does too much and eventually she caves in from exhaustion!

If this sounds familiar, it's time to reevaluate your "Wonder Woman" image and self—imposed expectations. Whether you're a stay—at—home, full—time mom or corporate executive; single, married with children, or otherwise; you need to ask yourself some basic questions. Would you enjoy your children more and have more to offer them emotionally if you took an occasional break? Are you spending too much time away from them in the name of good works? Is your home—based business totally taking over your life? How much of you does the company you work for really own, and how much are you willing to give up to continue to climb the corporate ladder?

The point is, if you're stressed, working too hard, and completely out of steam, consider what things you have control over and make some changes. Most important, realize that you don't have to be perfect—and that Wonder Woman is merely a figment of someone else's imagination.
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Table of Contents

Foreword xv
Introduction 1
1. Wish Wonder Woman Goodbye 5
2. Get Off to a Peaceful Start 9
3. Don't Get Over-Committee-d 12
4. Cut Your Friends Some Slack 14
5. Bust Your Boredom Blues 17
6. Stop Comparing Yourself to the Media Measuring Stick 20
7. Clarify with the Question: "Are You Asking for My Opinion, or Should I Just Listen?" 22
8. Make Peace with the Mundane 24
9. Get Down and Dirty 26
10. Don't Go There with the "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda" Sisters 28
11. Save Your Pot-Stirring for Cooking Dinner 30
12. Speak from Your Love 32
13. Listen from Your Love 35
14. Look in the Mirror 37
15. Go with the Twists and Turns 39
16. Have a Bosom Buddy 41
17. Create Memories for Your Children 43
18. Be Reflective 45
19. Stress-Busters 47
20. Perhaps It's Not Personal 50
21. Don't Let the Members of Your Family Dodge Your Draft 52
22. Envy Not 54
23. Find Your Gifts and Share Them 56
24. Take Time for Your Self 59
25. Let Out Your Steam Lightly 61
26. Accept Compliments with "Thank You" 64
27. Avoid Cyber-Rift! 66
28. Protect Your Inner Flame 68
29. Understand the Difference Between Intuition and Fear 71
30. Set Clear Boundaries 74
31. Let Go of Your "Perfect" Plans 77
32. Don't Let Self-Doubt Stand in Your Way 80
33. Give Yourself the Gift of Forgiveness 82
34. Be Real 84
35. P.S.--I'm PMS! 87
36. Lower Your Threshold 89
37. Let Your Children Grow Into Their Own Shoes 91
38. Write a Letter and Find Out Where You Stand 94
39. Gather and Let Go 96
40. Stop Swimming Upstream 98
41. Don't Be a Backseat Driver 100
42. Create Beauty from the Inside Out 102
43. My Way Is Not the Way--It's Just My Way 105
44. Stop Magnifying the Flaws 107
45. Celebrate Our Ability to Give Birth 109
46. Learn to Meditate and Quiet Your Mind 111
47. Go Ahead and Vent (One Time), but Get It Off Your Chest 113
48. Set Your Own Priorities 115
49. Don't Trip on Your Excess Baggage 118
50. Packing Light and Traveling Right 121
51. Get Off Your Hamster Wheel 125
52. Use Your Career for Your Spiritual Work 128
53. Know When Your Ego Is Getting the Best of You 131
54. Stay Open to Meeting a New Friend 133
55. Age Gracefully 135
56. Consider That He May Not Have the "Eye" for It 138
57. Go Inside for the Answers 141
58. Dress from the Inside Out 144
59. Use Symbols to Remind You of Your Spirit 146
60. Remain Calm and Make the Best of a Bad Situation 148
61. Rise Above the Rut of Your Routine 150
62. Be Grateful for Small Things 152
63. Honor Your Mother 155
64. Celebrate Being Single! 157
65. Find Your Own Way 161
66. Allow Enthusiasm to Bubble Up from You 163
67. Share the "Nice" Stories 165
68. Say "No, but Thanks for Asking" (Without Feeling Guilty) 168
69. Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You'll Need 171
70. Go with the Girls 173
71. Don't Become Over-Identified in Any Role 175
72. Defuse the Thought Explosion! 178
73. When All Else Fails, Laugh 181
74. Plan an Inspiration Flow Day 183
75. Gripe to the One You've Got the Gripe with 185
76. Spice Up Your Sexy Side 189
77. Be 99 Percent Gossip-Free 193
78. Have a Backup Day Care Plan 195
79. Don't Weigh Every Day 198
80. Merge the Spiritual and Material Worlds 200
81. Know When to Turn Off Your Technology Booby Traps 204
82. Don't Let Your Anger Get the Best of You 207
83. Seize Your Opportunities 210
84. Widen Your Scope and Get Some Perspective 212
85. Renegotiate Your Boundaries 215
86. Don't Fight Fire with Fire--Unless It's a Controlled Burn 219
87. When Trying to Simplify, Think Prevention 221
88. Say the Words, "Hey, That's a Great Idea!" (and Then Act On It) 223
89. Don't Take It All So Seriously 226
90. Fancy Your Femininity 229
91. Know Your Hot Spots 231
92. Walk Through the Open Doors 234
93. Own Your Emotions 236
94. Remind Yourself What It Means to Be a Human "Being" 239
95. Find Your Compassion Corner 242
96. Remember That a Low Mood Is Only Temporary 245
97. Climb Your Mountains One Step at a Time 248
98. Define Your Small Stuff 250
99. Be Able to Stand on Your Own Two Feet 253
100. Treasure the Journey 256
Author's Note 259
Suggested Reading List 261
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For the most part, women have never had it so good. Thanks to our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, we've achieved equality with men (even if some men don't think so). We've made incredible strides in white- and blue-collar professional arenas, and we have broken strict gender barriers in nearly all industries. More than ever, we're respected by others and we respect ourselves. And we deserve it! We have more independence, options, and conveniences than ever, as well as the capacity to live rich, full lives.

Along with the many options we have created for ourselves, however, comes some very real confusion accompanied by a sense of being overwhelmed. Unlike the women who came in generations before us, we are lacking a concrete paradigm to live by. Instead, we are expected to do it all—all the time. We have taken our ability to multi-task, and to accomplish a tremendous amount, to new levels. We are "super women" with much to celebrate—yet we are exhausted!

One thing that hasn't changed very much is that many of us have a tendency to sweat the small stuff! Women are incredibly strong and, ironically, we do really well when the stakes are high. If there's a crisis, we're on top of it. If a friend is in need, we'll be there. If there's a sick child, turn to a woman for strength. If a sacrifice needs to be made, chances are, we will rise to the occasion and find a way to do what needs to be done.

On the other hand, we're the first to "lose it" over fairly small stuff! We can be nitpicky, petty, uptight, and tense. Many of us are perfectionists, overly controlling, and easily offended. We take things personally, and can be very reactive and dramatic. We're often quick to get bothered, irritated, and frustrated.

I had a great experience as Richard's co-author for Don't Sweat the Small Stuff in Love. I have to admit, however, that when Richard asked me to write solo for the first time for this book, a part of me wanted to hightail it as fast as I could in the other direction! However, I knew, after some contemplation, that this would be a challenge and a part of my own spiritual journey that I simply could not refuse. It gave me a chance to reflect upon and put into words those things that I had been attempting to practice for a lifetime.

I'd like you to know that the advice in this book is not coming from a woman who has any sort of superiority complex or any illusion that she has it all together. Far from it: I'm a normal everyday person who has either dealt with, or is currently dealing with, most of the issues and challenges in this book. To one degree or another, most of us have struggled with body image, family choices, budgets, men, friends, lifestyle, time management, communication issues, parenting, and balance. I certainly have. This is the stuff life is made of, and from which none of us are exempt!

I suppose that my greatest asset is that, like Richard, I'm a genuinely happy person most of the time. I tend to see the glass half full instead of half empty. I've always felt grateful to be a woman and to be alive. Happiness and peace of mind have always been a priority. Because of my basic nature and the efforts I've taken in this direction, I've come to see that it's not necessary (most of the time) to sweat the small stuff. My goal in writing this book is to point you in that general direction. I've found that the less bothered I become, the more I'm able to celebrate being female.

Like so many other women, I find all sorts of reasons (albeit some very superficial, but enjoyable nonetheless) to relish being a woman. I love T-shirts with a bit of lace, French country prints, and cinnamon-spice scents. I love taking aromatherapy baths and playing with makeup. To me, there is nothing greater than being "mommy," and I adore doing my girls' hair and nails. I also love being Richard's wife. I cherish my girlfriends and the sensitivity, understanding, and compassion we offer each other day-to-day. I love expressing myself passionately through art, creating a haven out of my home, exercising, practicing yoga, and meditation—and I admit, I also love to shop!

On the other hand, I have also experienced, firsthand, the many challenges, circumstances, and issues facing women today; everything from being a full-time business owner to part-time career woman blended with motherhood. I've also been a full-time mother and home manager. I've been successful at some things, and less successful at others. There was a long time when we struggled to make ends meet financially. I've been single, and I've been married. And of course there was a time, although I sometimes have difficulty remembering those years, when I was a struggling teen and college student.

This is a book for busy women who want to get the most out of life while merging their spiritual and material worlds, and without sacrificing what they are able to give others. By implementing these strategies, your life won't be perfect, but there's no question that you will receive more joy and find all you do more manageable. I've created strategies that are easy to implement, yet packed with a punch. Each one is designed to show you a way to value yourself more fully, connect with your spirit, give yourself more time, inspire new perspective, or help you to let go of the little things that bother you. In short, these strategies give you more options. They allow you to become slightly less reactive—so that you can become more responsive and reflective. It's my personal belief that women are incredibly wise and resilient. And by making shifts and adjustments, however small, we're able to bring that wisdom to the surface.

No matter what part of your journey you are on, I invite you to join me through the upcoming pages. I am excited and honored to share perspectives of the Don't Sweat philosophy which are specific to us as women. I know in my heart that each of us is gifted with great potential—for wisdom, creativity, love, kindness, compassion, strength, and tenderness. I wish for you a lifetime filled with these qualities and any others that are important to you. Good luck!
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I would especially like to thank Richard Carlson, my treasured husband, for his incredible inspiration and graciousness in giving me this opportunity to share. I'd like to thank my parents, Pat and Ted Anderson, for always loving me and giving me a wonderful childhood and great start in life. My editor, Leslie Wells, for her assistance, coaching, and encouragement. My parents-in-law, Don and Barbara Carlson, for all the support and enthusiasm they have given us over the years.

I've been richly blessed with great friendships. I'd like to thank all the special women in my life who gave me so much support and encouragement, and who helped inspire me simply by their presence. Beginning with those women I consider my "Life 101" mentors: Betty Norrie, Sheila Krystal, Michael Bailey, and my aunt Pauline Anderson. My cherished girlfriends who supported and encouraged me throughout this book: Kimberly Bottomley, Lisa Marino, Jane Carone, Cindy Driscoll, Melanie Edwards, Caroline Benard, Frances Evensen, Carole Stewart, Carol Simons, Christine Scharmer, Jeanine Stanley, Pamela Hayle-Mitchell, Marni Posl, Corry Wille, Heidi Mitchell-Springer, and Victoria Moran—and a special thanks to all the women in my life who are such an incredible inspiration and gift. I treasure you all!


It's a dream come true and a real honor to be sitting here today writing the foreword to Kris Carlson's book. Not only have Kris and I been married for more than fifteen years, but we're really close friends as well. We share a great deal of love, respect, and, more than anything else, laughter.

As you'll soon discover, Kris is a beautiful writer, but she's far more than that. She is a dedicated and loving mother and a friend to many. She is wise, compassionate, forgiving, and, for the most part, she doesn't sweat the small stuff. Really! In addition, she's more than willing to look at and address her own issues, and when she does get upset, it never lasts very long. Although she's an optimist, she is also a realist. She's aware of the problems most women face—but she's also very gifted at pointing toward legitimate solutions.

For many years, Kris and I have been reflecting upon and discussing the issues, solutions, and strategies in all of the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff books. We usually start our day with a short meditation together, followed by a heart-to-heart discussion of some kind. Kris is fun to talk to because, not only does she see the nature of many problems, but she's able to see the humor in most situations, as well. And while she's never once laughed at another person, she's almost always able to laugh at herself—a necessary ingredient in being an effective teacher of happiness.

There are some issues that only a woman can understand. I'm biased, of course, but I've never met a person more qualified to tackle the small stuff for women than Kris Carlson. In fact, the only time Kris ever says to me, "You just don't understand," it's always about an issue specifically about women! Having two daughters that I don't "always understand," I'm so glad that Kris is around to take charge!

I know you're going to love this book. It's filled with wisdom and good advice about a whole bunch of everyday stuff. Kris is able to get right to the heart of the matter in an honest, respectful, and light-hearted way. There's no wasted babble or filling of pages. What you'll read is good old common sense with a touch of flair and a lot of wisdom.

Many of my good friends are women, and I've met hundreds of women, over the years, from all over the world. I also grew up with a great mother and two wonderful sisters. And now I have two daughters. As I read this book, I saw all the women I know—and have known—in every page. The advice is applicable to all women—young and old, single, married, divorced, or widowed.

I often say, "We're all in this together." What I mean is that, as world citizens, we're all subject to the problems of being human—none of us are exempt. Yet, there's no question that women are absolutely different from men—different issues, problems, concerns, tendencies, and priorities. And while I'll never know exactly what it's like to be a woman, I do realize that every woman I know could benefit from this book in some way.

My greatest hope is that all people—men and women—will learn to live happier, more peaceful lives. If you're a woman, this book will help point you in that direction. It's a great read, and a fun way to learn to stop sweating the small stuff.

Treasure Yourself,

Treasure Yourself,

Richard Carlson

Benicia, CA

October, 2000

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