Richard Carlson is the author of the well known book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” which I remember loving when I read it long ago. When I saw “You Can Be Happy No Matter What” at the local Barnes and Noble, I grabbed it. (That store is dangerous for me, go there for a meeting, leave with 5 books.)
I wanted to love this book. I really did, and in some ways, I do. The simple yet difficult to truly understand concepts in this book (not letting the low moods and stress that your brain creates affect you) are powerful. I do believe more people need to understand that it is their brain that makes them sad, angry or experience other emotions, not things outside of themselves. I was first exposed to this concept in my 20’s and it has changed my life.
However, I found the book to be too simplistic in several ways. First, the five main concepts are repeated in various ways without enough real, concrete examples to expand the reader’s understanding. The examples that are presented are both short and simplistic. Were I not a follower of William Glasser and his Choice Theory I am not sure I would have been fully able to absorb what Dr. Carlson was trying to share with the reader.
The second and more important problem with the book is that Dr. Carlson downplays the importance of traditional therapy and addiction treatments. While I understand that living in the present is an important part of improving our everyday outlook, I completely disagree with not reflecting on the past. There is both power and wisdom in understanding our past behaviors and figuring out how to change our unhealthy behavior patterns.
If you don’t have major problems and can’t figure out why you still aren’t happy this quick read could help. However there are many other books explaining similar concepts more effectively.