Book Review: Stop Thinking Start Living

stopWhen doing the winter trip last week and writing the last post, about the importance of the here and now, I actually had a few insights in mind from a book I read recently:


“Stop thinking, start living” by Richard Carlson.


The book is a bit repetitive in parts, but the central idea is quite compelling:


  • How you feel is entirely dependent on your current thoughts.
  • I.e. whenever you feel unhappy, bad, stressed, it is a result of “negative” thoughts that stayed in your mind too long.
  • You cannot control what thoughts enter your mind (they are created by your sub-consciousness) but you can learn to control if you allow them to stay in your mind.
  • Most people cling to negative thoughts too long and turn them around and around in their minds, thus creating an unnecessary feeling of unhappiness.
  • Too the contrary what the mainstream says, “Thinking problems through” is in most cases not helpful but harming.
  • Most “problems” are better solved when not thinking about them but letting the subconsciousness (your “wisdom“) solve them without active thinking-effort.
  • Querying your wisdom (i.e. listening to your intuition) will yield much better results and save you from bad feelings due to negative trains of thoughts.
  • If you are in a bad mood, always understand that this is just a symptom of some bad thoughts you had before, and not reality.

In a nutshell, Carlson is opposing basically all the psychological opinion in saying you should not dig around in your problems, your bad thoughts and the reasons for that.

According to him, you should learn to let negative thoughts simply pass by and get a distance between you and them.

I am not yet sure if I would go as far as Carlson in all of his conclusions, but in some points he seems to be damn right:

  • Learning how to not follow negative trains of thought is very valuable. Especially if you are already aware that you cannot change the situation now.
  • Getting a better connection to your intuition sure also is a good advise. Intuition is not something esoteric, but it is neglected in today’s world as it is not seen as “rational“.
  • Getting distance to your negative thoughts and also to negative feelings makes sense. The trick is to accept both the negative thoughts and negative feelings (not to fight them), but to say to yourself in the same instance: “This is just a negative thought or feeling, it is not reality. My mind is currently clouded, thus I do not see things realistically but much more negative than they are in fact.”

At least for Woodpecker, especially the last bullet was a very valuable advise that seems to work.

Try out yourself or better read the book!
If bought used, it’s not more than 3-4 EUR. 🙂




5 comments on “Book Review: Stop Thinking Start Living

  1. Astrid says:

    Thank you for that helpful review.

    Does he talk about fear (of a future event for instance) as well? I find that can create a lot of negative feeling and stress.

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      Well, he has a long chapter about moods, saying that what you call “fear” is often something which is exagerated by your mind as long as you think to much about it or while you are in a bad mood.
      The way to tackle this is stepping back and understand that this “fear” is not reality, it is just an exagerated projection, were the problem in reality typically is much smaller. Again, try to not think anymore about what you fear would be the way to go.

      At least to me, that absolutely applies: when looking back, everything I “feared” and spent stupid sleepless nights about, turned out to be more or less harmless.
      I kept record for one year, and NONE of my numerous fears materialized to full extend during that time.
      By now, I decided not to fear anything anymore. …except the sky falling down on us, to quote Asterix… 😉

      • Astrid says:

        Keeping a record of fears and their actual manifestations sounds like an amazingly powerful plan. I remember great fears that did come to pass, but although the damage to my life was great, I’m still here. I think that says I can survive great upheaval, or the upheaval isn’t quite so great as I feared. I can’t quite make up my mind about that.

  2. mrwoodpecker says:

    Hi Astrid, yes it is powerful. I my case I recorded every “fear” that I remember from the past and also everything that came up during that year. In 95% the subject of the fear did not materialize at all. In the remaining 5% it materialized but always to a less severe extend than in my imagination before. Even then, all my thinking on the issue beforehand did not change much on what happend in the end.

    Obviously I don’t know about your case, but try it out!

  3. […] are in a grey zone, where some things are bad and some are quite ok. Try to see the whole package. Do not think about the future of your department, company or position (that’s all speculation and you cannot change it […]

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