In 1988 when I wrote “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: PS It’s All Small Stuff,” little did I know that a number of years later my book would go into three printings, have an audio version, be celebrated and awarded wonderful titles like “Good Morning America’s” “Hot Pick” and “Publishers Weekly Magazine’s” “Listen Up Award: Best Audio of 1996.” I also didn’t anticipate the controversy.
Ahhh, yes the controversy. I didn’t sweat it.
After all, William Safire noted in his 2004 book, “The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time,” that I first popularized the expression, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” in my 1988 book. But that didn’t stop someone else from coming along and writing another book using the same expression in the title.
Here’s what happened. One day in 1996, I was walking through Fashion Valley shopping mall in San Diego, and passed a Barnes and Noble bookstore. I almost fell off my feet when I gazed in the window and saw a floor to ceiling display of my book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: PS It’s All Small Stuff.” Honestly, I was beaming.
After all, a young kid from Newark, NJ who went from a 1.8 GPA in my first semester of college to a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and living in San Diego, California seeing my first book so displayed in Barnes and Noble…well, an immediate phone call to my wife, Paula, was in order.
“Oh my goodness! You won’t believe this,” I shouted in the phone to Paula. “The book is all over Barnes and Noble.”
“Wow, that’s incredible! How come we didn’t know this was going to happen?” Paula wondered. I did too.
Then it hit me. “Wait a second, that’s not the cover of the book. They must have changed it,” I told Paula. “Hold on, something else is weird,” I remember mumbling.
“They also changed the ‘PS It’s All Small Stuff’ to ‘AND It’s All Small Stuff’!” I added bewildered. Then it hit me.
“You aren’t going to believe this, better sit down. Someone else wrote something way too similar!” I told my wife.
What followed was a long string of phone calls from friends and families, lawyers and publishers, media and newspapers. But thanks to William Safire, he clarified the story.
“What are you going to do to that guy?” “Did you see him in the UK’s newspaper lying in the hammock with dollar bills strewn all over him?” “Did that character plagiarize your book?”
I wasn’t going to do anything to him. I did see the picture of him lying in a hammock covered with money all over him from head to toe. Ewwwww is right! I didn’t believe he actually plagiarized my original book, nor did the many attorneys who reviewed the case. Close, but no sweat.
Sweat it? Are you kidding? I loved it. You see, things don’t happen TO us, but rather, things happen FOR us! What an opportunity this was!
Like Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious cover boy of my favorite magazine growing up, “Mad Magazine” who wondered, starting in the magazine’s 24th issue, “What, me Worry?” I don’t worry. I don’t sweat it. Never have. Never will. It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other guy suffers. Why cause suffering in myself? It’s bad enough something I’d prefer not happen actually happened. On top of that I should create suffering within myself as well. Never. Ever.
“Dr. Mantell, you wrote ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’?” Yes sir, I did.
“Dr. Mantell, would you come on and talk about your bestselling book, ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’?” Sure I would! And did. And do.
“Dr. Mantell, I loved your book.” Thanks, did you love mine or the other one. “What other one? Wow, he stole your title!” No, he actually didn’t.
Wherever I spoke, the confusion and controversy caused by the other author’s close call was a topic to discuss and use as an example of never, ever sweating the small stuff. Never. Ever. I don’t sweat it, I don’t regret it, I move on and I forget it. My book will teach you exactly how to do the very same.
Years of this went on until one day the chairman of the department of psychology of one of the nation’s top universities called to inform me that the other author died. He wondered if he “got what he deserved.” CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT QUESTION?
I couldn’t. After all, while I didn’t know the other author, I imagined he had a family, friends, impacted many and of course I only wished him and his surviving family well, peace and comfort. And still do. Never. Ever. Sweat the small stuff. Ever.
What’s my secret to not ever causing stress within myself, and especially over the shenanigans of others?
Here it is, so repeat after me: the link is what you think. I’ll say it again: the link is what you think. Repeat after me: the link is what you think. Write it down, cut it out, paste it on the dashboard of your car or keep it on your desk, and look at it the next time you are in traffic, have a run-in with your boss, look at your bank account (if you have one), weigh yourself, or wake up in the morning and wonder what the heck you did the night before. The link is what you think, it’s not—NOT EVER—the external event.
You actually think that someone else’s behavior MAKES you upset? You think another book by an all but the same, misleading, title can CAUSE upset? You believe that seeing another book by a confusingly all too similar title is worth sweating? You’d be wrong, erroneous, inaccurate, and wasting precious time in life if you answer, “yes” to these questions. Never, ever, sweat the small stuff. There’s too much health and happiness to focus on. Why look at the thorns on the rose bush when you can look at the roses on the thorn bush?
I hope you enjoy this 25th anniversary edition of the ORIGINAL “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: PS It’s All Small Stuff.” Its noble purpose remains what the original in 1988 set out to do: to help you improve your life, live fit, healthy and happy.
I’m especially grateful to have the support, love and constant guidance of my wife, Paula, and our children and six grandchildren. In the years that have passed since I wrote the original in 1988, we’ve been blessed in so many ways, beyond description really, though our six grandchildren certainly sit at the top of that pile.
I look forward to many more years coaching breakthrough strategies for optimal success, health, fitness, emotional wellbeing and exceptional living with the many business leaders, elite amateur and professional athletes, individual and families I’ve worked with helping them reach new breakthrough trajectories in life.
If I can help you or your organization prevent, not manage, stress, and NOT sweat the small stuff, please let me know. You can follow me on Twitter at @FitnessPsych or @DrSanDiego and connect with me on Facebook or Linkedin.
I’d be happy to connect with you beyond this edition of the book…in advance of the 50th Anniversary Edition. After all, positive thinking is what it’s all about!
Interested in obtaining a copy? Check out this link https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-sweat-the-small-stuff-dr-michael-mantell/1102293476?ean=9781494434502 or this one https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Sweat-Small-Stuff-Its/dp/1494434504