Tag Archives: drrichardcarlson

When I started working for Children Incorporated in 2003, one of the first things I heard about was Dr. Richard Carlson’s mention of the organization in his landmark best-selling book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

I was told that Dr. Carlson’s kind words about Children Incorporated had generated literally thousands of new child sponsorships, and that even more lives had been changed by contributions resulting from the same. I recall that Mrs. Marian Cummins, who was serving as our President and Chief Executive Officer at the time, thought very highly of Dr. Carlson, and they talked on the telephone often. I spoke with him a time or two, myself, and found him to be incredibly warm and caring. Dr. Carlson was much-loved by our staff, and his sudden death in December of 2006 came as a huge shock to us all.

There are now nine books in the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series.

Since that time, Richard Carlson’s work has been carried on and greatly expanded by his wife, Kristine Carlson. Over the last eleven years, many more volumes have been added to the Don’t Sweat book series, and Kristine is now a best-selling author and world-renowned speaker in her own right. She and her family have continued to support the work of Children Incorporated since Richard’s passing, and Kristine reached out to me earlier this year and shared her desire to do even more to assist us in our work of providing for impoverished children. I recently had the opportunity to chat with her about this subject.

RC: Kris, as you celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, can you tell me a little about what initially led your husband, Dr. Richard Carlson, to write the first book?

KC: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff was Richard’s tenth book. He pioneered the short chapter, “how to” book of advice as a new structure for writing his wisdom, which focuses on the psychology of mental health and well-being, and how to practice a happy life. There are now nine books in the Don’t Sweat series, for everyone from moms to teens, and for every topic from work to love. These books specifically tailor anecdotes for how to deal with minor annoyances that cause big stress, and how to choose happiness and peace over stress in all situations in life.

RC: Did you – or he – have any idea at the start that Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff would have such a universal impact? Did you ever envision an entire series of the Don’t Sweat books?

Every child in this world should have their basic needs met so that they have the same opportunity for happiness — to explore their human potential.

KC: I don’t think anyone could have had any idea of the kind of phenomenal success and impact that the flagship book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, had on the world. That was inconceivable. What I can tell you is that Richard was incredibly tenacious. He was a talented writer on his path, and he just kept on writing.

One day, he almost quit; but the very next day, he was flying to be on The Oprah Show, for the first time, in a panel discussion. The Oprah producer claimed that she was bent down in an aisle her library, and Richard’s book You Can Be Happy No Matter What flew off the top shelf and hit her in the back of the head. It was the perfect book and author to feature on a show about stress and how to manage it.

This event marked a pivotal moment in Richard’s career, and he wrote Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff three years later. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff has been translated in over forty languages and sold in over 125 countries. No one can preconceive that kind of impact, and we have always felt immeasurable gratitude for being instruments of love, in service to the world through our writing.

RC: Richard’s mention of Children Incorporated in the first book was one of the most meaningful things to ever happen to our organization. Thousands of impoverished children were helped as a result of his simple words: “There are many fine agencies to choose from, but my personal favorite is Children Incorporated.” Do you recall how he first became interested in Children Incorporated?

All of the books in the series show you how to practice and choose happiness, and live the best and most vibrant life you possibly can.

KC: I wish I knew how Richard found Children Incorporated, though it was likely through a friend. We always loved donating in small ways before we could donate in big ways — and he loved kids, as I do. Every child in this world should have their basic needs met so that they have the same opportunity for happiness — to explore their human potential. I can speak for Richard when I say “we” are overjoyed by this contribution. It shows the power of ONE. One person wrote one chapter, and it multiplied into thousands of sponsors! I am simply in awe of his wisdom, and the grace by which he lived – his impact on me to live in the same way and carry on.

RC: You are now challenging your friends and the many people who follow you on the internet and through other means to sponsor a child in honor of this special twentieth anniversary of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. The goal is to get 2,000 new sponsors to assist 2,000 additional children. What made you decide to continue supporting our work in this very special way?

KC: I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to give to others; it is the foundation of truly living gratefully and abundantly. It is a blessing to be in a position to help a little or a lot. When we think of the change in our pockets that we spend on lattes and coffees, that little bit could go to feeding a child. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the success of our series than to do our best to challenge our community to sponsor a child in honor of Richard’s impact on their lives. The Richard Carlson Memorial Foundation will also match up to $5,000 in additional donations that are made in the book’s name this year. I am most excited to see this challenge come to fruition!

RC: We know that people all over the world have experienced life changes as a result of the wisdom shared in the Don’t Sweat books. I’d like to turn it back to you. Can you tell me what the books have meant to you personally?

KC: It’s rare to see two writers in one family. I wouldn’t have even dreamed of aspiring to such a fulfilling career, but my husband knew I was a writer long before I did. He invited me into the series as his co-author in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love. I had already been helping him with chapter titles and ideas for Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Family (I was home sweating the small stuff with our two young girls while he was on the road promoting his latest book!). Then, after the success of Love, he asked me to write my first solo book in the series: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women. I gulped and accepted the challenge — then discovered that I, too, am a writer. It was like an otter taking to water — and I’ve been writing ever since. These books have changed the trajectory of my life, and they’ve given me great purpose to carry on for Richard. While we couldn’t have known he would pass from an embolism at such a young age and so quickly, he brilliantly prepared me to step into his world.

Thousands of impoverished children were helped as a result of his simple words: “There are many fine agencies to choose from, but my personal favorite is Children Incorporated.”

RC: Is there a particular bit of wisdom – perhaps some especially moving nugget of truth from the Don’t Sweat series — that you would like to share with us at this time?

KC: For twenty years, the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books have pointed readers toward living a focused and happy life. The latest research on happiness shows that happiness is a choice, and it’s all how you practice life that matters most in achieving a high level of contentment and happiness. All of the books in the series show you how to practice and choose happiness, and live the best and most vibrant life you possibly can.

RC: Helping children live the most vibrant and promising lives that they possibly can is also the goal of Children Incorporated. Our work is all about offering those who struggle the possibility of a better education, a sense of hope, and opportunities to improve their place in life. We are indebted to you, Kristine — and of course, to Richard — for your incredible support of our work. Thank you!



You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.


I am blessed. Let me just say that now, and get it out of the way. I am incredibly blessed in many more ways than I can even begin to count! I have a nice home, a dependable car, food, clothing, and more material possessions than I need. My family is stable, and my spouse and I are able to provide for our children in a manner that keeps them fed and safe and warm, and they know without a doubt that they are loved unconditionally.

Poverty is real, and the hard, cold fact is that it breeds incredible suffering.

That is not the case with many children. It is estimated that nearly fifteen million children in the United States live below the federal poverty threshold, and the number of poverty-stricken children and families living elsewhere is even more astounding. Some reports indicate that as many as 1.3 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty. Poverty is real, and the hard, cold fact is that it breeds incredible suffering. Children often go without adequate clothing, their medical needs are unmet, their stomachs are empty, and many live in simply deplorable conditions

A Very Special Supporter

For the last 52 years, Children Incorporated has been working hard to help needy children and their families rise above some of their struggles – to discover a sense of hope and possibility even amidst the deprivation in their lives. We are a small organization, yet our impact is large and far-reaching. Over the past five decades, we have helped nearly half a million children live better, see the potential for more, and in many cases, rise above their meager existence.

The late Dr. Richard Carlson

I am grateful to the thousands upon thousands of loyal supporters who make our work possible through their generosity and sharing, and I appreciate those who have gone above and beyond to spread the word of what a fine organization Children Incorporated truly is. One very special person immediately comes to mind: the late Dr. Richard Carlson, who, in 1997, released his landmark best-selling book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”. In that book, Dr. Carlson challenged readers to sponsor a child through the mail, and he stated very clearly that Children Incorporated was his charity of choice. As a result of Dr. Carlson’s mention of our organization, nearly 6,000 children were sponsored.

When Dr. Carlson died suddenly in 2006 at the age of 45, his wife decided to carry on his legacy, and wrote more best-selling books in the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” series; and today, Kristine Carlson is a world-renowned speaker who runs a successful website, as well as hosts a popular podcast where she interviews other motivational people who work to inspire others in the world through their wisdom and expertise on many different subjects.

Kristine Carlson’s Challenge

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of  “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” Kristine Carlson has a challenge for everyone – in the next year, she wants an additional 2,000 children to be sponsored through Children Incorporated. She is also pledging that the Richard Carlson Memorial Foundation will match up to $5,000 in donations this year.

Kristine Carlson has a challenge for everyone – in the next year, she wants an additional 2,000 children to be sponsored through Children Incorporated.

On her website, where Kristine has not only highlighted the work of Children Incorporated, but has also created a call to action for her followers to consider a sponsorship with our organization, she has given us an opportunity to expand our projects, and to extend our reach yet again.

I am humbled by Kristine’s kind gesture, and everything that Dr. Carlson accomplished through his support of our work amazes me. They have truly been blessings to Children Incorporated, and they have changed the lives of many young people through their caring.

Like the Carlsons and those they have reached over the years, my family and I sponsor children through Children Incorporated, not only because I work here, but also because I know first-hand the difference it makes in the lives of the children we serve. Sponsoring a child is a small way that we can, as the saying goes, “pay it forward.” It is a simple way for us to share our blessings with others; it is non-demanding, cost-efficient, easy as pie to get started, and can literally change the lives of children.

Just as Kristine says on her website, we would be honored if you would take part in this important challenge. If you are not already doing so, consider sponsoring a child today. If you are already a sponsor, perhaps you can tell a few friends what a difference sponsorship can make, and encourage them to join in our efforts to help children. It matters, and Children Incorporated couldn’t do what we do without you.

In 1997, Southwest Airlines distributed thousands of copies of Dr. Richard Carlson’s bestseller, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, to its employees — including pilot Don Wyatt of Palm Coast, Florida.

Inspired by the sentiment of the book, Wyatt wanted to give back. And since the late author was a strong supporter of Children Incorporated, Wyatt began to research the organization.

“There are many fine agencies to choose from, but my personal favorite is Children Incorporated… The experience has brought tremendous joy and satisfaction to my entire family.”

– Dr. Richard Carlson

After thoughtful consideration, Wyatt signed on. He currently sponsors four siblings — three sisters and a brother. They live in El Progreso, Honduras, a town still recovering slowly from the destruction caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Today, the population still grapples with the effects of homelessness, disease and continued poverty stemming from that natural disaster.

El Refugio Welfare Center opened soon after the hurricane to provide a place for poor and abandoned children to go to for food, clothing, and educational assistance. The center provides for the children during the day and invites parents to become involved at the center by providing support in childcare, hygiene and healthcare.

A sponsor since 1999, Wyatt has consistently gone above and beyond to help provide the siblings with the essentials they need to succeed. He is currently paying for one to attend college and plans to help the other three when the time comes.

We sat down with Wyatt to learn more about why he chose to become a sponsor, and what he’s learned along the way.

CI: How did you get involved with Children Incorporated?

DW: Like many other people, I learned about Children Incorporated though the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. I acquired that book through my employer, Southwest Airlines, in 1997. The company thought so much of the book that they bought thousands of them for their employees. The book says to give back to others, and I was impressed with what the author said about Children Incorporated. I have contributed to other charities, and one of the things that I liked the most was that the money goes straight to the children.

CI: What do you know about Honduras?

DW: It was the first time I had been in Honduras in about three years. I am prior military and have lived all over the world. I am very familiar with how things are in underdeveloped countries. I have been to Korea and the Middle East, and I have seen poverty.

CI: What do you know about the childrens’ living situation?

Mr. Wyatt with his family and sponsored children’s family

DW: They live with their mother. She is the primary caregiver, and she has worked several odd jobs in El Progreso. Employment is hard to come by, so she has worked as a clerk in a grocery store, and a custodian at a hospital. But recently, the mother has had health problems. I don’t know how she helped the children when they were not old enough to take care of themselves.

They live in a very rough part of town, and it is amazing that they have somewhere to live at all. They rent the home. For a while they were squatting in a home, and they got into the program because they found an empty home right next to the coordinator’s home. She enrolled the children in Children Incorporated’s program, and then they eventually moved into a home that they could legally pay for.

CI: What do you know about El Refugio?

DW: I met an assistant coordinator, Trenie, who always arranged for a translator and a driver, and has always met me, and spends the whole time with me and my wife, and going about visiting the children’s homes. I have visited all of their schools, and I have taken them out to restaurants and water parks for a day of relaxation. The children are being provided for at the center after school with supplies, clothes and large bags of groceries on a monthly basis.

CI: What can you tell us about the children you sponsor?

The book says to give back to others, and I was impressed with what the author said about Children Incorporated. I have contributed to other charities, and one of the things that I liked the most was that the money goes straight to the children.

DW: Bernardo* was my first sponsored child, but he ended up dropping out of the program. I was asked if I was willing to sponsor a child in the same program in Honduras, which is when I learned about Samuel*. Over the course of a few months, I was told about some special needs of this family, and found out that he had three sisters as well. For about six months, I was only sponsoring Samuel, and then started sponsoring all the children — and that was in 2005.

Cándida* is the eldest of the four children. She was about eleven back then, and now she is 21. She is in her second year of the higher education program in university classes in El Progreso, where she studies information technology. When she’s not studying, she spends her time listening to music and watching movies with her friends.

Right behind her is Mariluz*, who just graduated last December. She’s also a movie buff. We got her a computer to help her with her studies.

Samuel is seventeen. He took an auto mechanics course in junior high school and is continuing his studies at a technical trade school, along with some regular classes.

Natalia* is the youngest. She’s in high school. Like any other teenager, she likes movies and listening to music — but mostly, she looks for simple things to do that don’t cost that much.

CI: Do you communicate with the children directly?

DW: Yes, I try to write them at least as often as they do, if not more — six to eight times a year, and then on birthdays and holidays as well. I tell them a little bit about my life and what I do, and I take pictures of the cockpit of the airplane and send those, and ask them about their health and happiness, and try to encourage them in school. I am hopeful that it will provide some additional opportunities for them.

CI: Do they write back? What do they say to you?

DW: The letters are normally eight to ten lines long, and they give a brief sentence of how they are doing. And then say they hope my family is happy and healthy.

CI: What advice would you have for someone reading about you and your sponsored children, and considering sponsorship?

DW: Children Incorporated is extremely responsive. They welcome inquiries, pass along concerns and are willing for me to get more personally involved with the needs of the children. I am very happy being associated with Children Incorporated, and I feel that the organization has a great history, and every dollar goes to the direct needs of the child.

People contribute to charities for a lot of different reasons. If you are the type of person that wants to become more involved on a personal level, Children Incorporated lets you do that. Often with other charities, you don’t feel like you have a personal impact. With Children Incorporated, you can be more than just a contributor of money.

* Names changed for children’s protection.



You can sponsor a child in Honduras in one of three ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, email us at sponsorship@childrenincorporated.org, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Honduras that is available for sponsorship.