Carlson, author of the bestselling Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
, goes beyond the effort to minimize stress with 39 techniques for making positive changes in all aspects of life. Rather than embarking on lengthy or costly self-improvement projects, he suggests trying out smaller, simpler adjustments that he believes can make a real difference in everything from one's communication skills to peace of mind. Delivered in his trademark upbeat style, Carlson's advice is rooted in showing kindness and compassion to oneself as well as to others. He notes, for example, that a natural inclination to help can lead to taking on too many responsibilities. Learning to say no allows you to pursue a calmer and more meaningful existence. Although the author acknowledges that most people are beset by self-pity, he says that choosing to adopt a cheerful attitude each day will actually make you happier. Learning not to blame others for your troubles will provide a greater sense of control over decision making and enhance self-confidence. While many of the author's ideas are common self-help tropes (much of the book reads like an updated version of glass half-full/half-empty) that are not as easy to accomplish as they sound, Carlson has the knack of making them sound as if they are. Agent, Linda Chester. 15-city author tour.