What About the Big Stuff? Finding Strength and Moving Forward When the Stakes Are High by Richard Carlson (2002)

Although, like most self-help authors, he has his moments of self-promotion, and some Chicken-Soup-like sentiment, I think Carlson is wise and well worth reading. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff deserved its success, and this one is good too. Alas, when I read a book like this I think “Yes, what good advice, I should try to keep that in mind,” but within a few weeks I don’t remember anything specific at all. Mostly because self-help books hardly ever have any new ideas in them; but it’s still valuable to hear all the good old advice in new words. At least I think and hope it is. So reading chapters entitled “Treat others as if they were going to die–tonight” is good for me. If I ever get to the point in my life where I actually take notes and reflect on self-help books as I read them, Carlson’s are books I will go back to.

The only really new/unique ideas I remember coming across in self-help books are those in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, specifically the techniques of recognizing the imagined physical properties of ideas/memories (where you “see” them, how crisp the pictures are, how loud the sound) and adjusting them for desired effects (for example, make a scary idea less real by projecting it on a screen, then shrinking the picture and lowering the volume, etc.) But trying out those techniques never had much effect in my actual life. Flylady, and to a lesser extent Judith Morgenstern’s Organizing from the Inside Out, are the only self-help methods that have really made a difference to my day-to-day life.

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