Sunday, April 5, 2009


Richard Carlson, PH.D., author of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff", has a small book that lists simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life. It's crazy but one of the things he suggests is imagining yourself at your own funeral. Facing some radioactive tests tomorrow, it has me thinking in terms of my mortality. I'm sorry if there is anyone that really reads this and finds this to be a morbid topic but according to Richard Carlson, it can be a positive step and an "excellent source of change".
He suggests we spend more time with people and activities that we truly love and less time worrying, especially about things that "really don't matter that much". His theory is that if you imagine how you spent your life you will most likely get a wake-up call because by considering your death you also have to consider your life.
I have always been a worrier. In fact, I have what they refer to as "the white coat syndrome" and my blood pressure rises just being in a clinical setting. I don't even have to be the patient! Now, a smart person would be able to tell him or herself that it is not big deal. It is "small stuff" according to Carlson. But, not me. It all feels important to me and I guess at that moment that I am actually the one being examined, I feel like I have to perform. If my blood pressure is too high, I didn't pass the test. This mindset is crazy and I know that it is yet I cannot stop it no matter how much self-talk I do. So, I am trying to "go with the flow" and be in "the now" thanks to Eckhardt Tolle. After all, the NOW is all we really have.
And, I acknowledge the reality of what I am actually afraid of and that is: death. Maybe the older I get the more I realize that I haven't done everything that I want to do yet in this life. But, there is also a page where Carlson quotes a Tibetan prayer. It says: "Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion my be truly fulfilled."
So, I need to spend less time running away from my problems and learn to accept them as an "inevitable, natural, even important part of life." "This philosophy of acceptance is the root of going with the flow".
This tree, even in its death, has landed upon a beach in Oregon and offers respite for those who need to sit down and rest. It offers shelter for those who need it. This tree has been dead for quite some time yet it is still making an impact even in its death. That is what I need to remember: that if I live a life that I am proud of that I will continue to live on in the minds and thoughts of those who are important to me. My life does make a difference. And that is what is important.
Richard Carlson ends his little book with a suggestion to live each day as if it were your last. How often have we heard that and how often do any of us really practice it? Life is precious. It's not always what we expect but it is what it is. We are lucky to have the opportunity to be "living" it, aren't we!

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