How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. It is, by far, one of the most down-to-earth and practical books in the self-help genre. It shows you what worry is and most of all, how to eliminate it on specific subjects in your life, but also the general worry, that worrisome feeling that might just go on for years. Let’s see what the book is all about and then let me show you how to implement it in your life. Let’s do it. We all worry. Whether it’s about the past or the future, it seems to be stronger than us. Worry is focusing outside of the present by overthinking the past and harboring anxiety about the future. It sounds simple and complicated at the same time. In this summary, you’ll learn how to deal with specific issues in your life, how to break the habit of generalized worry, and finally, how to live a happy and worry-free life, so be sure to stick out to the end.
We often waste our lives dreaming of a far off future. When you’re a child, you talk about what you want to do when you’re “older”. In your teenage years, you think about life when you’re an adult. In college, you think, “When I have a job, I’ll do this.” Once you’re on a career path, you dream about what you do when you make a better salary or when you retire. The best way to break that cycle is to start living in the present moment and shut off your mind entirely from the concerns of yesterday and tomorrow. When you take the weight of the past and the future off your shoulders, you allow yourself to carry one day worth of stress, which is not that bad. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Sometimes worry can come from a specific event, such as a tight financial situation, an illness or something as bad as losing your job. Imagine that your boss calls you to his office one day to tell you that your position has been terminated. You start worrying, of course. “Where would I get a job? Can I find a job that I like? Wait, what if my landlord evicts me because I don’t have enough to pay my rent?” Here’s how we deal with a specific worry about a specific situation such as this one.
Step number one is get the facts
Start by gathering all information you can about the specific case. You can use a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, a sticky note, whatever works in your case, but when you display the information, it makes it easier for you to visualize where exactly you stand.
Step number two, analyze information
Read all the information and ask yourself this important question. What exactly am I worried about? You might understand that your biggest worry of all is that you won’t be able to pay rent. So, you come up with a list of possible solutions. Borrow money from family or friends to cover your bills, go back to your parents’ place, get a job now just to cover the rent and look for something better later. After reviewing all the possible solutions, you decide that the best option is to get any job now so you don’t have to worry about rent, and once you have a job, you can look for that better career opportunity. Now it’s time for..
step number three, act your decision.
You search for jobs, you start applying straight away, and soon after, you get accepted. Now that you don’t have to worry about paying the rent, you’re able to focus on looking for a job that you actually like better. But what about that worry that comes from within and is not necessarily related to a specific event? The author calls this, “Generalized Worry.” It is sort of a general state of stress and anxiety. Generalized worry is a habit that needs to be broken, and you can do this by using these following six methods.
Method number one, keep busy
Keeping your body and mind as busy as possible is an effective way to avoid worry, simply because it’s impossible to actively think about two things at once. So try something like joining new activities, like a sports team, or enroll in a new class, or develop a hobby that requires some concentration, such as learning a new instrument or painting. When your mind is engaged in something, it’s that much harder for you to concentrate on some generalized worry.
Method number two, reframe the small stuff
Many of life’s large stresses are simply a buildup of small, tiny problems over a long period of time.
For example, small irritation with your spouse can build into resentment or even divorce. The best way to avoid letting small problems affect you is to reframe your thoughts. And you can do this by asking yourself the question, am I going to let this tiny setback ruin my entire experience? Okay, your spouse didn’t put the cup in the right cupboard, is that something that important in the grand scheme of things? Is it something that’s going to ruin your entire relationship? Chances are you’re going to realize that this is something so insignificant that you should stop worrying about it, even if it happens every single day. Second tactic is to adjust your view. Think of how you can make the irritation more pleasant or eliminate it altogether. Can you talk to your spouse? Can you figure out a different system for whatever is the little irritation? There are many ways to solve that little problem.
Method number three, think about the probability
Many people tend to worry about everything, accidentally setting their house on fire, plane crashes and so on. Often though, once you step back and examine these anxieties, you will find that most of the things you worry about haven’t come to pass, nor are they likely to. So when you catch yourself falling into that generalized worry habit, ask yourself, “What am I worried about?” And then ask yourself, “Is it likely to happen?”
Method number four, accept what’s out of your control
Sometimes you just cannot control or change a situation. Although it can still be stressful and frustrating, I totally get it. it becomes a little more bearable if you practice acceptance, instead of trying to change something that’s completely out of your control. Imagine the power goes out the night before Thanksgiving, and you find out it won’t come back for a few days. It’s a terrible scenario. But instead of becoming upset that you won’t be able to hold the dinner as planned, accept it, accept that Thanksgiving won’t be happening in your house this year. Nothing you can do about it. Bring the food over to someone else’s house and enjoy a different Thanksgiving.
Method number five, put a limit on anxiety
Allow the issue only the time and energy it deserves. You can determine the limit by asking yourself these three questions. How much do I really care about this issue? How much of my time and effort has already been wasted on this issue? How much of my time and effort am I willing to further spend on this issue?
Method number six, what’s done is done
Many chronic worries tend to ruminate in the past. Things that you’ve said or not said, or mistakes you’ve made, or you didn’t make them. Unfortunately, this is a completely useless exercise. No matter what you do, you cannot change the past. I know, shocking. Instead, focus your energy on learning from that experience and ensuring that you won’t make the same mistakes again. Now that you know how to manage every worry you might have, it’s time to level up and start living a happier life. The idea is, the happier your everyday mindset is, the harder it will be for worry to take over your emotions. Here are the seven rules for maintaining a totally happy mindset.
Rule number one
Attitude is everything
Attitude is much stronger than we often give it credit for. Ultimately, you cannot always control your circumstances, but you can manage your own thoughts. Check out this example. Two people arrive at the airport five minutes too late for their flight. Person A starts worrying. “How will I make it home? Can I get a refund? What am I going to do until there’s another flight?” Person B starts working on solutions. Doesn’t blame it on anyone else that they left late, books the next available flight, searches for activities to do in the meantime. By approaching a stressful situation with a positive and good attitude, person B has ensured that she has booked another flight and that she will enjoy some time while she’s waiting.
Rule number two
Don’t try to get even
Holding grudges and keeping enemies has tempted everyone at some point in our lives, but keeping someone as an enemy doesn’t harm them nearly as much as it harms you. It will clutter your mind and interrupt your happiness. Keep in mind that people can only bother you as much as you allow them to.
Rule number three
Expects lack of gratitude
If you always expect gratitude from others, you end up disappointed most of the time, simply because gratitude is a cultivated practice. Ingratitude is human nature. Instead of demanding gratitude from others, try to focus on the joy of giving without expecting anything in return and expressing gratitude yourself.
Rule number four
Count your blessings
If you take the time to reflect on the ratio of good to bad in your life, you’re most likely to find out that the good far outweighs the bad. Unfortunately, we often waste time focusing only on what we don’t have. Try to appreciate the small things you take for granted. Stuff like having your favorite coffee in the morning, or feeling the sun on your face, or all the wonderful people in your life that you’re surrounded with, that you take for completely granted.
Rule number five
Find and act like yourself
One of the easiest ways to make yourself anxious and unhappy is to reject who you are and strive to be someone who you’re not. It’s natural for you to wish you had some better looks, better skills or some better abilities than others, but this is a waste of time. Instead, focus on the extraordinary fact that you are the only version of yourself in the entire world. Work every single day to make yourself proud of who you are.
Rule number six
When life hands you lemons make lemonade
It doesn’t necessarily mean to turn disaster into fortune. It could mean making an ordinary thing and making it into an extraordinary one. Carnegie tells a story of a farmer who moved to a land plot with poor soil that prevented anything from growing in it. Furthermore, the land was overrun by rattlesnakes. Instead of giving up on the farm, the man decided to find a way to use the setback to his advantage. He started canning rattlesnake meat, opened a rattlesnake farm that became a hot tourist destination and sold the rattlesnake venom to labs all around the country.
And rule number seven
Find ways to do good for others
Commit to doing at least one good deed for someone else every single day. When you’re thinking of others and connecting with them, you’re naturally distracted from thinking about yourself and your worries. When you focus on being positive toward others and treating them as well as you can, some of your outward positivity naturally turns inward. When you follow these seven rules, you’re seven steps closer to living a happier life. Not only because your life will be that much more peaceful, but also you’ll feel much more self appreciation. Now, let’s see how you can implement all of these tactics into your life.
So that was How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. Now, this was a lot of information, I know, so you might get a little bit overwhelmed, so let’s bring it back down to Earth and let’s see how you can implement it in your life. Well, the way I suggest you go about it is you take a few minutes and you figure out, are you worried about a specific subject, a specific project in your life, whether that’s personal, professional, or do you have, what Dale Carnegie calls, generalized worry? Do you have maybe a dental procedure coming up that’s just keeping you awake? Or maybe some financial trouble? Whatever it might be, is it a specific thing or is it a generalized worry? Because, as you saw from the summary, the approaches are slightly different, so solve your most immediate concern first. If you don’t have one, then do the generalized worry steps. If you have a specific concern that keeps you up at night, you’re anxious about it, you’re worried about it, then solve that first.
Always start with your “biggest worry” and then move on from there, because once you solve that one, life becomes that much easier and you can concentrate on becoming happier or living a more fulfilled life. But if you have a specific thing that’s keeping you up and awake, and you’re trying to live a happier life, maybe there is a little bit of a disconnect. So, take a few minutes, figure out what is going on in your life. It’s not that complicated. It will take you just a few minutes, and then go according to plan. If you need to, rewatch the summary, read the whole book and address that specific area of your life.