Fill Your Mind with Positive Thoughts

Fill Your Mind with Positive Thoughts
After reading the totally new, cutting edge self-help book Start Up Your Life by Anna Akbari, I decided to take a trip down memory lane with Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Affirmations by the editors of Don’t Sweat Press and foreword by Richard Carlson.

Carlson penned the original Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff...and It’s all Small Stuff over 20 years ago in 1997. Back then the title itself was so helpful that many people, myself included, would often use the phrase without having read the book. While Carlson didn’t invent the phrase “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” he is credited with making it a part of American vernacular. The book was number one on the New York Times list for over 100 weeks and spawned a series of Don’t Sweat books that have sold 25 million copies, according to

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Affirmations is divided into 10 chapters that go straight into the affirmations without preamble. Since my self-help reading philosophy is to “take the best and leave the rest” I decided to focus on just four chapters: ”In The Flow,” “Abundance,” “True Progress” and “In the Moment.”

When the concept of “flow” is mentioned in self-help literature, normally the writer is referring to a state a consciousness described in Positive Psychology by the Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who coined the term. We enter the state of flow when we become so fully immersed in an activity that time seems to stop. However, in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Affirmations I’m not sure what “flow” means. Some of the affirmations don’t match up. For example the affirmation: “I am aware of my changing moods and make allowances for them” doesn’t seem to connect with Csikszentmihalyi’s concept since being in the flow or the zone means you lose your sense of self. Further emotions associated with flow are generally positive. And this affirmation also feels out of place: “When someone asks me how I am, I respond with calmness rather than reporting how busy I am or listing my problems.” It’s definitely a positive affirmation, but doesn’t seem to have much to do with flow as I have come to understand it.

I found the chapter on “True Progress” much more helpful. Currently I have several long range goals that I work on just a little each day. I found that for me making rapid major changes in my life can be jarring, overwhelming and ultimately unproductive, so I am focused on developing small habits that will create lasting change. Since I’m planting seeds not forming instant mountains, it’s difficult to see whether I am getting anywhere. The “True Progress” affirmations are just what I need. These are some of my favorites from the book:

“I improve the quality of my life with every positive thought.”

“What I begin to practice now will become second nature.”

“When I am very busy, I remember to take things one step at a time, and enjoy the feeling of each small accomplishment.

“Just like the technology in science fiction novels that has now become reality, I create positive thoughts that will come to fruition in their own time.”

Each section of the book could have been helped by introductions, still I found the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Affirmations worth the read. In the foreword Carlson suggest reading the affirmations in the morning to start your day or to ground you when things get hectic.

“Affirmations such as these remind us of the power that our own thoughts have in shaping our reality and the quality of our lives,” states Carlson. “When we understand this power, we are more careful about which thoughts we give significance to and which we choose to dismiss or ignore.”

I borrowed Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff Affirmations from the local library.

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