Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens: Simple Ways to Keep Your Cool in Stressful Times

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens: Simple Ways to Keep Your Cool in Stressful Times

by Richard Carlson


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In this candid guide to adolescence in his #1 bestselling series, Richard Carlson examines the contradictions and challenges unique to teenage life and offers high schoolers (and their parents) tools for learning not to stress about homework, peer pressure, dating, and more. Along the way, he addresses such issues as:

  • Breaking up
  • Getting out of the emergency lane
  • Being OK with your bad hair day
  • Dropping the drama

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786885978
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 09/06/2000
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 181,486
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Richard Carlson, Ph.D., was the author of the bestselling Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series. He passed away in 2006.

Kristine Carlson has a gift for creating lifelong relationships and is very dedicated to her family, friendships, and personal growth. She loves riding horses, running, and solitude. Richard and Kris were married for over 21 years. She lives in Northern California.


Northern California

Place of Birth:

Northern California


San Jose State University, Pepperdine University; Ph.D., Sierra University

Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt from Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens Introduction

I loved being a teen. Then again, sometimes I hated it. I was often enthused but at times apathetic. Occasionally I had vision and a purpose, but other times I was totally confused. Sometimes I was nice, but other times I could be quite selfish, even a real jerk. The first time I fell in love was when I was a teen. That was also the first time I flunked a test. I was a talented athlete but not a great student. At times I was confident, but then again I was embarrassed a lot too. In high school I was so frightened to speak in front of groups that I fainted -- twice. I was excited about my future but also a little scared. I was probably a pretty typical teen.

Yet despite the difficulties I faced, I was always, deep down, a happy person, a natural-born "peacemaker." I cared about the feelings of others and was saddened by cruelty. I loved and appreciated my life, my family, and my friends. For the most part, I stayed out of trouble. I remember wanting to do the right thing. My guess is that a lot of this applies to you too.

Before my teen years were over, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to the study of happiness and to help others do the same. In college, I became a "big brother" for the Big Brothers of America program, which was one of the highlights of my young life. That, along with a few other things I was involved in, taught me, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the best and surest way to become happy and content was by being thoughtful and helpful to others.

Over time, I learned that there were a few other major components to being happy and successful. Much of it is pretty simple. It involves perspective, wisdom, and most of all, the ability to not be irritated, bothered, and annoyed by the day-to-day things that happen to all of us. In short, the key is to stop sweating the small stuff!

At some point, it became obvious to me (as I'm sure it already is for you) that certain "big stuff" is going to happen to all of us -- and that there isn't anything we can really do about it, except, perhaps, to pray for strength and to do our best. Every single one of us experiences loss, difficulties, obstacles, and tragedies. The details will differ, but we all have problems.

And that's precisely why it's so important to learn to stop sweating the small stuff. Life is hard enough when we have to deal with really significant things. But if we can't deal with even the little stuff very well, then we're in for a rocky road. In fact, if we can't learn to stop sweating the small stuff, we're pretty much guaranteed to be stressed out, frustrated, and unhappy much of the time, because either we will be dealing with something really big or we'll be stressing over something fairly small. After all, everything is either one or the other -- big or small.

Most people agree that it's pretty tough being a teen. All things considered, however, it's clear to me that it's tougher now than ever. There are the obvious things -- drugs, violence, two-income families, dangerous sexual issues, divorce, peer pressure, aggression, and the influence of technology. But there are the less obvious things too -- not feeling needed or wanted, mixed messages from parents and society, a ton of negative role models everywhere we look, incredible pressure to perform, self-worth based on accomplishments, and an insecure future, to name just a few.

While learning to stop sweating the small stuff won't make these things go away and won't solve all your problems immediately, it will make dealing with them a little easier. The reason: As you learn to be more accepting of life and as little things don't get to you as much, you will get used to handling things in healthier, easier ways, and with far less struggle. You will become happier, more content and confident, and more at peace with yourself. Consequently, over time, even the big things won't seem quite as bad or as insurmountable.

When we get bent out of shape by little things, when we are irritated at ourselves and others, our (over)reactions not only make us stressed out and miserable, but they actually get in the way of our getting what we want. We lose our bearings, cloud our vision, stumble, and get down on ourselves. We also tend to annoy others who might be in a position to help us or guide us. In short, sweating the small stuff while trying to maneuver through your teens is a huge distraction. It's a little like playing basketball on a slippery ice rink! In other words, your own frustrations and reactions will get in the way of being able to see answers and solutions.

It's understandable why most of us sweat the small stuff. To begin with, we certainly see a lot of others doing it. When we're in the car, for example, and an adult driver is cursing at traffic and clenching his fists, the subtle message is "If life isn't exactly the way you want it to be, you should become upset." We get tens of thousands of these "Go ahead and sweat the small stuff" lessons when we're kids and while we're growing up. Think back. How many times did someone in that situation say to you, "Don't worry about it. Traffic is simply a part of life. We will get to where we need to go and we'll probably be on time too"? Probably not very often!

Another example: When someone is criticized, or feels someone doesn't like him or her, the typical response is to become defensive or hurt. Again, how many times when you were growing up did you hear someone, after being criticized, respond by saying "Criticism is just a way that certain people express themselves. It says less about me than it does about that person's need to criticize me. It's okay, there's no need to take it personally"? In other words, how many people didn't sweat the criticism?

How about when something doesn't go someone's way -- she has a minor setback, a traffic ticket, a difference of opinion, or loses her keys? As you know, the typical reaction is to complain, wish that life were different, and feel bad, angry, or ripped off. Have you ever watched adults waiting in line in a grocery store or post office? If so, you'll often see loads of frustration, glaring at watches, and under-the-breath comments. Very seldom do you see people exhibiting great patience in day-to-day living.

Yet can you imagine what your life would be like if you learned to sweat the small stuff even a little less often -- if these kinds of things, and so many others, simply didn't get to you very much? Can you imagine the edge you'd enjoy in life? No, your life wouldn't be perfect. Yet it would be substantially easier and more manageable. You would get along with others even better than you already do, and your communication skills would improve. You'd feel really good about yourself most of the time, and even when you screwed up, you'd get over it more quickly. Likewise, you'd be more confident because everything wouldn't seem like such a big deal and the stakes wouldn't seem so high. You'd be easier on others too, more patient and forgiving, for example. You'd have more fun too, because your sense of humor would get better, and you'd see the funny side of things. As we learn in Zen philosophy, when you let go of things rather than struggle against them, your life will begin to flow, and when it does, you'll be on your way to a great life.

There's no question that being around someone who doesn't sweat the small stuff very often (teens or nonteens) is pretty cool and reassuring. And that person can be you. Truthfully, it's not very difficult because all it involves is a little insight, trying a few new things, and looking at stuff a little differently. In fact, it's probably going to be even easier for you than for your parents and other adults because they have far more years of bad habits to overcome. My experience in working with and talking to teens is that you guys pick up on this stuff faster than anyone.

I'm not going to try to lecture you. I don't think you need me to do that. Unlike some people, I don't think the average teen of today is "messed up" any more than the average teen was back when I was a teen.

Nor am I going to try to be one of you. I'm not. I'm thirty-nine years old and haven't been a teen for almost twenty years. In fact, my daughters will be teens before too long. I'm not going to try to impress you in any way, such as trying to speak or write any different from the way I usually do. I'm just going to be myself. I've received so much mail over the years from teens that indicate that you're plenty able to read and appreciate my material.

My goal in writing this book is simply to share with you in the same way that I've shared before. My greatest strength is to teach people to be a little happier. I believe that the same types of things that help older people to become happier apply to teens as well.

I hope you'll give these strategies a fair try. I think you're going to like them, and I believe that they can make a difference. I've been blessed with thousands of beautiful letters from teens around the world, saying how much learning to stop sweating the small stuff has helped them deal with life more effectively. I hope you will feel the same way. My guess is that as you incorporate these ideas into your life, you will sense a world of difference. Good luck and have fun!

Copyright ©2000 Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

Table of Contents

1.Don't Throw Up on Your Friends!7
2.Convince Yourself that One Teen Does Make a Difference10
3.Don't Sweat the Breakups12
4.Practice Mental Aikido14
5.Avoid the Words "I Know" When Someone Is Talking17
6.Check Out These Odds! (the Likelihood that Everyone Will Like You)19
7.Get Out of the Emergency Lane22
8.Be OK with Your Bad Hair Day25
9.Drop the Drama28
10.Get High!30
11.Try Not to Become a Fault-Finder32
12.Let Him Have His Accident Somewhere Else34
13.Be Selective When Choosing Your Battles36
14.Make Peace with Your Mistakes39
15.Be Happy for Others41
16.Volunteer Your Time43
17.Check Out the Space Between Your Thoughts45
18.Ask a Trusted Friend or Family Member, "What Are My Weaknesses?"47
19.Root for the Underdog50
20.Make Peace with Boredom53
21.Don't Let Your Low Moods Trick You56
22.Don't Let the Low Moods of Others Trick You Either60
23.See Your Choices as Forks in the Road63
24.Get Involved in Sports65
25.Become a Teenage Warrior67
26.Put It on Paper70
27.Don't Expect Life to Be Easy or Trouble-Free72
28.Dare to Show Enthusiasm74
29.Find Peace Through Giving76
30.Become 25 Percent Less Critical78
31.Walk Away80
32.Allow a New Idea to Come to You83
33.Get Ready Early86
34.Avoid the 90-10 Trap89
35.Be the Role Model92
36.Don't Underestimate Yourself94
37.Get Over Completion Anxiety97
38.See the Possibilities100
39.Practice Not Sweating the Really Small Stuff102
40.Don't Keep Your Pain a Secret105
41.Make a Good First Impression107
42.Be Careful to Avoid the "I'll Show You" Trap109
43.Experience Perfect Imperfection111
44.Dare to Be Ethical113
45.Become "Button-Proof"115
46.Trust Your Inner Signals117
47.Take Time Out to Watch the Sunset120
48.Read a Minimum of Eight Pages a Day122
49.Make Space in Your Heart for Those Really Bad Days124
50.Don't Sweat the Future126
51.Experience Vibrant Health129
52.Visit the Elderly131
53.Be Aware of the Law of Diminishing Returns133
54.Develop Your Presence135
55.Remind Yourself that No One Is Out to Get You138
56.Go the Extra Mile140
57.Watch Your Language142
58.Be Creative in Your Rebellion144
59.Let People Talk146
60.Reflect on the Map148
61.Dish Out Praise150
62.Don't Burn Bridges153
63.Understand the Law of Focus155
64.Use Reminder Cards157
65.Be Glad to Be a Teen159
66.Experience Deep Listening161
67.Be Wary of Friends Who Encourage You to Dwell164
68.Create Your Own Special Place166
69.Remember to Be Grateful168
70.Read the Fine Print171
71.Look for the Innocence173
72.Don't Exaggerate Your Troubles175
73.Develop a Theme for the Day177
74.Apply the 1-10 Scale179
75.Remain Optimistic181
77.Look Who's Doing Yoga185
78.Be Careful that You're Not Practicing Being Unhappy187
79.Cut Your Losses190
80.Examine Your Headlines193
81.Notice Your Parents Doing Things Right196
82.Become a Little Less Stubborn199
83.Remember to Be Kind201
84.Take Criticism a Little Less Personally203
85.Understand the Four Pillars of Thought: Pillar #1--The What206
86.Pillar #2--The When208
87.Pillar #3--The How210
88.Pillar #4--The Fact Of212
89.Tame Your Anger214
90.Don't Be an Approval-Seeker216
91.Don't Be a Disapproval-Seeker Either219
92.Keep Your Sense of Humor221
93.Admit that You're Wrong--or that You've Made a Mistake224
94.Remember that Everyone Has the Right to Be Happy227
95.Go with the Flow229
96.Experience Delayed Reactions232
97.Keep in Mind that as One Door Closes, Another One Opens234
98.Embrace the Attitude, "This Too Shall Pass"236
99.Listen to Those Wake-Up Calls239
100.Continue Your Journey241

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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has totally changed my life. Before reading this book, I was always 'sweating the small stuff.' I would get mad at my parents, try to get my room looking perfect, and expecting my friends to be nice to me all the time. Other people may say 'don't sweat the small stuff' is just common sense, but sometimes, we lose our common sense and need to regain our knowledge. Having a copy of this book definitely helps to remind what's the priority in your life. Also, not all of this book is common sense, such as living in the present moment. I was always thinking of the future or groan about the past instead of focusing on my life right now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really helped me pull through my struggles with myself and relationships with my friends. I highly recommend that any troubled teen read this book it give you a whole new perspective!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really helped me to understand the fact that whenever you feel like the world's about to end because you made a mistake or a screw up, it isn't! I've now gained new hope for the future and I can now control my emotions whenever I get in a jam!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really did inspire me and help me to see things in a better way. This is an excellent book for any teen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well i as a child love this book and i have went from a big trubble maker to a somewhat truble maker. This book has helped me notice what im doing and notice my mistakes. It really truly has helped me in life and wich way i should choose thank you and thank you for your time . Sincerly Your reader, Hayley B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could never quite figure life and people and myself out. This book was a step towards that, figuring out "what is going on?". I had given up on happiness, now I know you choose to be happy and there are life and daily strategies to do so. If you did not have parents who taught you this, buy this book, if you are ready for it. Not everybody is but if you are seeking this book is a great find. Thank you Mister Carlson. I'm not much of a title person. I'm less impressed by the PHD but by your insights and unpretensciousness.
SkyeEB More than 1 year ago
Teens in need of guidance will not be patient with this book. Although it is filled with accurate information, it is too academically put together.This book would serve someone who has set himself on a path of self-improvement, which does not apply to the average teen. so, this is a text book for an adult to use as a resource while working with teens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My spanish teacher has the originol Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and it was great but this one is the best of them all!!! I love it! It really does help! I highly reccomend it to those who haven't read it!!
mbuch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is effectively organized into chapters for a wide variety of life tips. Each tip is clearly defined and directly illustrated through the use of vignettes with relatable scenarios to help the reader understand and visualize how the strategy would transpire and when it should be carried out. The issues that teens face are covered in a range of extremity. Every topic is realistic and solutions and tips are practical, logical, and very thoughtful! I find the scenarios in this book to be very true to life and the strategies are helpful in a variety of ways. This book would be very helpful to any teen, regardless of gender, interests, or personality traits. The problems that this book will help address are significant in being successful and making good decisions. Self-control is always necessary, and this book provides strategies to gain it!
cvlibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Students in high school love to read books about how to deal with some of their feelings and issues among their friends and family. Richard Carlson makes these issues of adolescence very poignant yet easy to understand. He uses fresh examples that illustrate what teenagers have to deal with on a daily basis from their family to friends. He also turns possible daunting or negative issues such as complaining about one¿s day into positive hopeful even funny ones. I would recommend this book for teenage girls and maybe a few boys who are interested in this genre.
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I dont rea like itlly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you i love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I myself as a teen think this book has helped i did not realise that i "threw up " on my friends so much so i think this book is great !!!!!! I love love love it!!!!!!!!!
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Pcurves More than 1 year ago
A colleague of mine referred me to this book. I came to find out that there was a journal. I am using this tool to assess and assist adolescents with finding themselves, identifying their inner negative feelings, and moving forward. Great activities!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awsome!!!It really helped me and I never got bored reading it!!!!!!