Stop Worrying, Start Living – Book Review

Stop Worrying, Start Living

Do you feel like you worry too much? Do you get stressed over nothing? Do you want to have a better way of thinking about and solving your problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions then Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, can be of some great help. I wanted to share some thoughts and quotes that stood out to me from his Stop Worrying and Start Living book. I don’t feel like I worry a lot, but just reading his book helped me to know where to focus my thoughts so I’m not wasting time worrying, which means I can spend more time living. I want you to be able to do the same. 🙂

Don’t Stew About the Future

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” -Matthew 6:34

Don’t stew about the future. Just live each day until bedtime.

Have no anxiety for the morrow. Definitely plan and think and prepare, but have no anxiety.

3 Steps to Stop Worrying

  1. Ask yourself, ” What is the worst that can possibly happen if I can’t solve my problem?”
  2. Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worse – if necessary. (Sometimes the worst isn’t really plausible.)
  3. Then calmly try to improve upon the worst – which you have already mentally agreed to accept.

“Those who do not know how to fight worry, die young.” -Dr. Alexis Carrel

I’ve used these 3 steps before. I HIGHLY dislike driving in bad weather (and in Utah, we get a lot of snow). So I applied these steps when I was driving in a snow storm. I thought, what is the worst that can happen? I could spin out of control, hit into the median and be paralyzed for life (there wasn’t anyone else on the road). I thought, that seems a bit extreme, but I embraced it. Then I thought, how can I improve upon the worst? Well, if I hit the median at a slower pace then I doubt I’d be paralyzed for life, so I decided to slow down and my white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel lightened and I could breathe easy. Try applying these steps to things you’ve been worrying about lately.

4 Steps to Problem Solving

  1. What is the problem? Write it down.
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are all the possible solutions to the problem?
  4. What solution do you suggest?

By answering these 4 questions about problems you have, you are addressing the problem head on and then can move on from worrying about it.

When you are tempted to worry about a problem, think through these steps:

  1. What am I worrying about?
  2. What can I do about it?
  3. Here’s what I am going to do about it.
  4. When will I start?

The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.

Keep yourself busy. The worried person must lose himself in action, lest he wither in despair.

Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget.

We can usually handle the big upsets in life; it’s the small annoying things that break us. He gives an example of a large tree that withstood lightning and wind storms, but the small little beetles are what killed it. That’s like us as well, if we become obsessed with worrying about all the little things in life, it will break us.

We have to think, what are the chances, according the law of averages, that this event I am worrying about will ever occur? Is it even worth fretting over for a little bit?

Obviously, circumstances alone do not make us happy or unhappy. It is the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings. Christ said the kingdom of heaven is within you. That is where the kingdom of hell is too. Nothing life could bring him was beyond his strength to endure.

“It is not miserable to be blind, it is only miserable not to be able to endure blindness.” -John Mitton

This is a great quote by Epictetus in Rome, “There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” This is so powerful, if it is not under our control then we have to stop worrying about it.

Just to reinforce that thought, here’s a great Mother Goose Rhyme:

“For every ailment under the sun,

There is a remedy, or there is none,

If there be one, try to find it

If there be none, never mind it.”

Prayer by Reinhold Nebuuhr:

“God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Cooperate with the inevitable. If it has to happen, bend with it, accept it.

Put a “stop-loss” order on your worries. Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it anymore.

Let the past bury its dead. Don’t saw sawdust.

Don’t say to yourself over and over, “I won’t worry about the past.” It only causes you to think about your past worries. Accept it, write it off and concentrate on the future plans.

I love this thought. I bought some life insurance when I was younger and naive about investing. I put in a fair amount of money over a few years and realized it wasn’t what I should have been investing in. I stopped contributing to it and just had to let go of the money I put into it. I just wrote it off. When I was discussing this with one of my mentors, he said, “You are handling this a lot better than I would be; that’s a lot of money.” I luckily had already read this book and knew to just let it go because it wouldn’t do any good to worry about it. I needed to focus my efforts on my new investing plan and not waste them on something I couldn’t change.

Mental Attitude

Here’s some great quotes to think about.

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” -Roman Philosopher, Marcus Aurelius

“You are not what you think you are; but what you think, you are.” -Norman Vincent Peale

It’s not our outward situations that cause our suffering, it’s what we think of those situations.

Remember to count your blessings, not your troubles.

I like the saying, “Have an attitude of gratitude.”

Let’s not imitate others. Let’s find ourselves and be ourselves.

Expect ingratitude. Christ helped 10 lepers in one day and only one came back to thank him. Do we expect to get more than Christ, the Savior? Give for the joy of giving. Gratitude is a ‘cultivated’ trait, so teach others to be grateful by example.

Don’t try to get even, you just hurt yourself more. Pray for your enemies.

Think and act cheerfully and you shall feel cheerful.

“The most important thing in life is not to capitalize on your gains. Any fool can do that. The really important thing is to profit from your losses. That requires intelligence, and it makes the difference between a man of sense and a fool.” -William Bolitho, author

How to Keep From Worrying about Criticism

“Unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. It often means that you have aroused jealousy and envy. Remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.” Dale brings up a good point, so remember to take criticism as a compliment.

“Do the very best you can; and then put up your umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck.”

Keep a record of the fool things you have done, or a record of the things you did throughout the week and then take time to criticize/evaluate yourself and then improve. Take time to ask for constructive, unbiased criticism.

I think this is a great idea – it lays out exactly what you can improve on for the next week, so you can continue to become better.

Forget yourself by becoming interested in others. Every day do a good deed that will make someone smile.

I think this is key to becoming a better person – by losing ourselves in the service of others, we forget about our own problems and can help lighten others’ burdens.

4 Relaxing Tips

  1. Relax in odd moments. Let your body go limp.
  2. Work in a comfortable position.
  3. Test yourself throughout the day – am I overusing my muscles? (Like tensing up your shoulders or straining your neck.)
  4. Measure yourself at the end of the day – how tired am I not?

To prevent worry and fatigue, put enthusiasm into your work.

The last two tips I’d like to share from Stop Worrying, Start Living are:

  1. Focus on the most important thing first.
  2. Plan out your day.

By focusing on the most important thing first you ensure it will get done and you don’t have to worry about it all day. By planning out your day, you’re making sure you’re not idle (having leisure time to worry).

There’s lots of great tips on how to worry less and live more in Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living; these are just what stood out to me. I’d highly recommend reading his book if you haven’t already and if you have, share what stood out to you in the comments below!

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