How to Stop Worrying and Start Living By Dale Carnegie (Book Summary)

We all worry about things now and then. But only a few us know that worrying damages our health. Yes, you read it right, it is one of the reasons for mental disorders. 

Plato knew that our body and mentality are closely linked and he shared those ideas in his books. When we don’t feel good mentally, our bodies react to it badly. In fact, the Mayo brothers, who are well-known physicians, stated that most of our hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from mental disorders like anxiety, despair, frustration, and worry. 

Worrying may seem like not a big deal but actually, it is. One of many debilitating conditions brought on by worry is arthritis. Also, the two main causes of arthritis are related to worrying: marital problems and financial difficulties. Moreover, lots of medical case shown that worrying has a great effect on the possibility of insanity and diabetes. Obviously, worrying is a big deal for our health.

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But, how are we going to deal with it? There are lots of reason to worry about in the world. Mostly the work we do is the cause. High-pressure jobs give us stress and worry at the same time. Moreover, they can even lead to heart disease. Studies have proven that people who work in high-pressure jobs tend to suffer from stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart diseases. 

Another study showed that twenty times as many doctors as farmworkers die from heart failure. Clearly, high-pressure jobs give more hardships than calmer jobs. So, consequently, if your job is one of those high-pressure jobs that cause you to worry, you need to know how to deal with it, otherwise, it is highly possible that you get a medical disorder after a while. 

1 – If you are confused about something, you’ll get worried so, get rid of that confusion.

Imagine that someone told you on Sunday evening that come Monday morning, you would be thrown into a torture chamber. How would you feel? You would probably worry about it. But, there is always a way to deal with it.

Dean of Columbia College Herbert E. Hawkes said that “confusion is the chief cause of worry.” He thought that most of the people don’t analyze the facts around when they are worried about something.

He suggested that worrying problems can be resolved with the help of a three-step analysis. 

Galen Litchfield applied that three-step analysis when he was stuck in Shanghai in 1942. Shanghai was occupied by Japanese and he came to know that a Japanese admiral learned about his assets that he had hidden from the Japanese. He was going to be thrown into the torture chamber on Monday. He learned about this punishment on Sunday and he didn’t know what to do. 

Then, he followed these three steps:

First of all, Litchfield thought about why he is worried. Then, he found a typewriter and wrote down his thoughts, which is being tortured to death in the morning. Secondly, Litchfield thought about what can he do about it. Then he wrote the question: “What can I do about it?” He answered his question with various options like escaping, telling the truth or acting as nothing happened. Lastly, Litchfield had to decide on those options, after an intense brainstorming he decided to act as nothing had happened.

In short, these are the steps he followed: getting the facts about worrying, analyzing those facts, and deciding what to do. 

On Monday morning, Litchfield did what he decided and he got around the Japanese. The admiral only scowled at him, so apparently, he had calmed down. If Litchfield acted differently, the admiral might have acted tougher, most probably. 

Long story short, he analyzed his worries and saved his own life. Who knows, maybe you save your mental health with the same method.

2 – After you decide to do something, it is a done deal. Be happy with your decision and don’t think about the other option.

Have you ever been on the horns of the dilemma? In other words, have you ever chose to do something but think about the other option a lot? Most probably you did because we all tend to ponder about what we missed by not choosing and if there is any time to turn back for them.

It is not healthy to have second thoughts about the decisions. It can make you worry about things more and the worrying leads you to mental and physical diseases.

To resolve a worrying problem, the first thing you need to do is analyzing the facts. When you finished analyzing, you need to choose a path and should never turn back from it. 

Don’t forget that you’ve already decided what to do. Therefore, grasp your decision and get rid of your anxiety about the issue. Don’t waver about what you did or don’t try to retrace your steps. If you have doubts, just ignore them. Otherwise, one little doubt will grow into a big one that ending not well. It would waste all your time and energy for the sake of your decision.

As soon as you’ve chosen a path, stay on the same and never hesitate. Or else, your efforts for that path goes down the drain.

3 – Live the moment, don’t worry about the past or the future.

Most of us have spent at least one night of our life tossing and turning, pondering about something that happened in the past or what might happen in the future. But, what was the point of doing that?  

It is useless to worry about the past or future. Writer Stephen Leacock illustrates the absurdity like this: A child speaks of his future plans by saying “when I am a big boy…” He becomes a big boy and says “when I grow up…” He becomes an adult and says “when I am married…” As a married man, he says “when I can retire…” Then, he retires and looks back to the past, he realizes that he missed it all and it’s too late already.

If you don’t want to end up like the person above, you should stop worrying about your past or future. You should live the moment.

You need to find a motivational resource to keep you at present. Such that, it will limit your mind to the present day and it will not let you come across with your past experiences or future predictions. It is simple, whatever happened in the past will stay in the past and whatever might happen in the future might happen in the future.

Surely, you should plan and prepare for the future. There is no argue in that. What really matters is that you shouldn’t worry about it. Work harder and do your best in your life. It will be the biggest preparation for your future.   

This advice has benefited a widow who was about to suicide because of her loneliness and grief. One day she was reading an article and she saw a quote at the bottom of the page: “Every day is a new life to a wise man.” She was astonished from the quote and decided to inspire herself with it every single morning until she finds the happiness and success in her life. The result? She found it, now she is happier than ever. 

The past is the past and tomorrow is another day that you don’t know. Don’t worry any of them, just focus on what you can do at the moment.

4 – When you have a rough time, imagine what could happen worst and embrace it.

A man named Earl P. Haney was diagnosed with duodenal ulcers. His doctors told him that he must take a rest, careful with what he eats, etc. But also they said that it was highly possible that he would die very soon. What do you think he did?

He pictured the worst scenario in his head. He thought about what could happen worst. 

By doing that, he took his first step to stop worrying. He analyzed his condition to embrace it the way it is. All he had to was waiting for the slow death. 

Haney realized that the worst will happen, he was going to die soon. Normally, when we think about the worst-case scenarios, we don’t go that far. We think about getting caught, getting fired, etc. Mostly, these cases are redeemable. If you get caught you can talk your way out, if you get fired, you can get another job. When you know the possibilities you become much calmer about the situation.

Certainly, his worst-case scenario was not like the cases mentioned above. There was no returning in his case. Still, he accepted his fate and prepared himself for it. Since he knew that his death is near, he bought a casket for his body could be shipped to Nebraska, where his family plot is located. 

Lastly, he made his efforts worth it for his worst-case scenario. He thought that if he is going to die soon, he should make the most of it. Even though his doctors said that he must take a rest, he didn’t listen to them and decided to travel around the world. But, what about his casket? Well, he took it with him! 

When he was traveling, he ate strange native foods and drank weird cocktails. He sang songs and made a lot of friends. He endured monsoons and typhoons in Asia. He was so happy with his life that he had already forgotten about his disease. When he returned home, he decided to sell his casket back to the undertaker. Surprisingly, he hasn’t been got sick ever since he went abroad! 

5 – Don’t waste your time worrying about hopeless situations, know the time when you stop worrying about them.

Most of us are tend to worry and bother about the negative incidents we had experienced before. However, if we had stopped doing so, we would have less stressed moments in our lives. It is not even useful to fret about past experiences. It only blocks our way to happiness. 

So, what is the resolution for this useless fretting? Well, a famous stock trader has a well-known strategy that would help us with it: the “stop-loss” order.

This is how stop-loss order strategy works: Shares are bought at a certain price and their price development is observed. If the share price decreases at a certain point like 20 percent below, it is sold immediately. The purpose of this strategy is to avoid losing more. Thanks to this strategy, not only more money are saved but also bad reputation is avoided.

Russian man of letters Leo Tolstoy was one of the people who would have used this strategy but he never did. He had a terrible marriage with her wife for 50 years. He and his wife never got along well throughout their marriage. If he had applied the stop-loss order to have the prosperity back in his life, everything might have been different both in his life and his works.

The same strategy can also be applied to get over the grudges. It is never reasonable to waste your time and energy on bearing a grudge to someone. The best example who applied the stop-loss order to get over the grudges is Abraham Lincoln who said that he never felt any benefit came from quarreling and he immediately forgave those people who attacked him as soon as they stopped.

Therefore, if there are things that cause you to stress and bear a grudge, put a stop-loss order.

6 – Focus on the brighter sides of life and act positively all the time. 

Most of us think that our emotions affect the way we think and act. However, psychologist William James suggests that emotions and actions go together. In other words, even though we can’t directly change the way we feel, we can change it indirectly with our reasonings and actions. 

If you want to feel happier, try acting happier. If you’re not feeling well, put a big smile on your face and whistle a happy tune. It seems hard, but when you try it, you will realize that it is impossible to be low while acting joyful.

If this strategy is not your taste, then there is another way to be happy. Of course, you don’t need to show your happiness to everyone. In that case, try to think happier thoughts. Finding the happier thoughts is totally up to you, but you may start thinking about the happiest moments in your life, in someone’s life, etc.

Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman Empire ruler, puts it this way: “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” 

The way we think has a great effect on our feelings. So, when you think happy thoughts, it is highly possible that you will feel happier. That’s why get rid of your negative issues and see the bright sides of your life.

Consider the commander’s wife who had to move to the Mojave Desert because her husband’s army training camp was there. Of course, she hated it at first. It was too hot and there weren’t many places to be relaxed. People around were not speaking English and there was sand in everything she touched and saw. Then, her father told her that focus on the bright sides and she did. She started to love the desert, the natives, the threes and the sunset…

From now on, the next time you feel sad, try to think and act positively. Most probably, it would work, even if it doesn’t work you will still be able to get rid of your negative thoughts which would harm you mentally.

7 – The pleasure of doing a favor is greater than their gratitude. 

We all do favors to other people, but, how many times we get their gratitude? Generally, people tend to not thank for the favor that had been done for them. Do you feel offended or frustrated when they thank you? If you do, you are not alone. Most of us often do favors with the expectation of gratitude. 

The expectations are the reason why we get disappointed so easily. People are not as thoughtful as you are. It is just the way the people are, it seems unchangeable.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius knew this situation already and he wrote it in his diary. He knew that he will meet “… people who are selfish, egotistical, ungrateful. But I won’t be surprised or disturbed, for I couldn’t imagine a world without such people.” 

Another person who was aware of the humankind’s ungratefulness was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Throughout his career, he accomplished many things and saved 78 people from the death sentence. Despite his great role in those people’s life, none of them thanked him.

So, when you are doing a favor, don’t think about their gratitude, just do it for the pleasure of doing a favor. That will make you happier and more confident. Because, you don’t need others’ appreciation, you need to appreciate yourself.

Don’t forget that gratitude is not an inborn act, it is learnable. So, when you have kids, you need to teach them to be grateful for the things they get. Otherwise, it would be your fault. 

8 – Embrace your uniqueness and be yourself, you don’t need to imitate anyone.

Are you aware of the fact that you are unique? Because there is no one else like you on this planet.

There are no identical genes, everybody has their unique genes. And the chances that someone identical to you being born is one in 300,000 billion, even if that person had the same parents as you.

So, it is obvious that we are unique, why do we still envy others or imitate them? We think that the apples on the other side of the wall are the sweetest. However, if we embrace the idea that we are unique individuals, there would be no envying or imitating others. Because it is just pointless to imitate others.  

Well, it is not healthy wanting to be someone else. It is highly possible that you get psychological afflictions. When you could be a unique person, why bother wanting to be like someone else? It is one of the miserable actings that people could do to themselves.

If you imitate others, not only it would be miserable, but also it would be a huge waste of potential. As psychologist William James put, people who have not found themselves, in other words, people who don’t embrace their uniqueness, use about only 10 percent of their true potential. Obviously, people should stop acting like others and find themselves, thereby, they could see their true potential.

Edith Allred was one of the people that tried to be like others, due to the childhood traumas and high expectations of her husband’s family. That’s why she couldn’t found herself in all those years, trying to be the best fit for the family.

She didn’t feel like she belonged there. She compared herself with other family members and everyone was so different than her. Therefore, she thought that she can’t take no more and began to think about killing herself.

One day, her mother-in-law told her that she had taught her children that they should always be themselves, not like any other people. Meanwhile, Allred was still on the suicidal thoughts and they were just gone with her mother-in-law’s words. It inspired her and she realized that she didn’t have to imitate others anymore. She found herself and she is now happier and more confident than she ever becomes.

9 – Criticisms are just disguised compliments and people do it for they envy others.

People who are always in the public eye draw a lot of attention and criticism. Have you ever wondered why? Because ordinary people envy them and know that when they make bad comments it will make them satisfied. It is just the human nature that wanting to feel more important by comparison.  

Preacher and author William Booth saw the extreme example of this tendency when he received a biting letter from a resentful and hateful woman. She wrote that letter because she hated William Booth and she accused him as an embezzler and a fraudster after he founded the Salvation Army. 

Clearly, she envied him and wanted to get some pleasure by denouncing a person who is known publicly.  

Most of the people are inclined to criticize people who they envy. So, whenever someone criticizes you, you should think of those criticisms as a compliment, not as an insult. As they say, “No one kicks a dead dog.” In other words, the reason why someone criticizes you is that you succeeded something and it is worthy of attention.     

Also, if you are getting too much criticism, you can think of yourself as an important person. Because the tree that bears fruit will be stoned.

Therefore, whenever you’re criticized, don’t worry about it. Think of them as a compliment. You will see the difference.

10 – Don’t wait to get tired to take a rest.

We are inclined to be more depressed than at lunchtime after a tiring day at work. Why is that? Lots of people think that all the brainwork in the office makes us gloomy. However, that’s not the case.

Intellectual labor only cannot make you tired. There must be other things as well. Scientists have proved that mental labor alone will not tire out the brain, even after 12 hours.

So, why do we feel exhausted even though we only did mental work? According to psychiatrists, the most common cause of fatigue is the emotions. Of course, positive emotions like joy and contentment are not the case. Negative emotions like anxiety, worry, not being appreciated, etc. are the reasons.

But it works the other way around too. Psychiatrists also discovered that fatigue causes more anxiety issues, worries, and other negative emotions.

So, what you should do is clear: You need to relax before you feel tired. Otherwise, it’s just one thing after another. When you are relaxed, you won’t worry about anything or get concerned about something. The secret to being more influential at work is to keep doing this on a regular base.

Take a look at the example of Frederick Taylor, who was employed at Bethlehem Steel. He wanted to increase the rate at which workers could load steel onto freight cars and he accomplished. Do you know how? With the help of resting before getting tired.

He chose one worker to conduct on for his resting experiment. He instructed the worker to rest more than the other workers: approximately 36 minutes out of every hour. The result was obvious.

The worker was able to load almost four times as much steel as his colleagues. They got tired and couldn’t continue loading steels while the worker in question was doing his best. Because he conserved his strength by resting.

So, the psychiatrists’ and Mr. Taylor’s point was proven: If you rest and relax before you get tired, not only you will work more efficiently, but also your mental problems will decrease.

11 – Choose a job that you would really enjoy and fight with the stress by being organized in your work.

Don’t choose a job just because it pays well. Working in a job that you despise is one of the miserable actings that someone could do. Your job must be something that you actually like doing.

Your work performance is related to your feelings about your work. If you like your job, you can become more successful at it. Thomas Edison worked 18-hours a day and his accomplishments are obvious. Also, he had a saying that proves our point:  “I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.”

Therefore, know what you love and hate, decide on the best cut for you and choose your job accordingly.

For example, if you have a family business that you don’t want to take part and your parents want you to work with them, listen to what they say carefully. Because they have more experience than you in the business and they know you, so what they would say most probably will be beneficial for you. But in the end, it is you who needs to decide what to do.

Philip Johnson’s father had a laundromat and he had assumed that Philip would work with him and eventually be the real boss. However, what Philip wanted to do was different. He wanted to work as a mechanic. His father was surprised about it but when he saw Philip’s happiness at work, he let him go. After years, his love of work moved Philip to the presidency of the Boeing company. 

Let’s say that you found a job but you want to make it more likable and stress-free. What would you do about it?

First things first, you need to be organized at your work and in your life. If there are tons of jumbled paperwork on your desk and a dozen of unknown documents on your laptop, you would be stressed, of course.  You should organize them before they create a chaotic atmosphere. 

For instance, a business executive had complaints about his nervousness and wanted to consult a psychiatrist about it. During the session, the man realized something: whenever their session is interrupted for a minor issue, the doctor took care of it right away, she didn’t procrastinate. The executive inspired about it and decided to apply it to his life. Within six weeks, not only he got rid of the nervousness and felt better, but also he became an organized man.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie Book Review 

It is proven that worrying has bad effects on both your mental and physical health. That’s why you need to find solutions to fight with your worries. Learn about what you’re worrying about, decide on what to do and don’t look back after you do. If you worry about the others’ actions and want to avoid it, stop expecting gratitude for your favors, don’t bear grudges and aware of the fact that people may criticize you because your accomplishments make them envious. 

Use stop-loss order strategy to deal with your worries.

When you have a bad experience with someone you knew, use the stop-loss strategy. Let’s say you had a quarrel with a friend, don’t get mad, lay it to rest for a certain time. Then try to solve it, if you still can’t solve it, then you need to stop striving. Because most probably it wouldn’t worth it.

Embrace the worst-case scenario and work on it. 

Worst-scenarios are not as bad as they seem. When you worry about something, don’t avoid thinking about the worst-scenario, instead, picture it in your head. It doesn’t have to be catastrophic. Think, picture, and work on it to improve.

Take a rest before you get tired.

When you work on something, don’t forget to relax before you get tired. Make a schedule for yourself showing when to take a break. It will both make you a disciplined person and increase your work performance. Moreover, you will get rid of your worries.

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