How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

INTRODUCTION

In the beginning, Dale Carnegie (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) made his living by teaching adults at night schools in New York. He realized that one of these adults’ biggest problems was worry. He wrote his book by reading what the philosophers of all times have said about worrying. He also read hundreds of biographies, from Confucius to Churchill. According to him, we will not find anything new in his book, but much that is not generally applied in our daily lives.

CONTENT

Carnegie wrote his book in eight volumes. Let’s go through them all and for the purpose of this article, I will share one story each from each part.

PART I: Basic facts you need to know about worrying

It was subtitled “Live in a day-closed compartment” for this story. Just live every day until bedtime.

It was about a housewife in Michigan who had lost her husband to illness. She was very depressed and had almost no money. She then wrote to her former employer and got her job back selling World Books to rural and urban school boards. She thought getting back on the road would help ease her depression; but riding alone and eating alone was almost more than she could handle. She discovered that the schools were poor and the roads bad. Success seemed impossible.

Then one day she read an article that lifted her spirits and gave her the courage to continue living. There was an inspirational phrase that read, “Each day is a new life for a wise man”. She typed it out and taped it to her car windshield so she could see it every minute as she drove. Since then she said to herself: “Today is a new life”.

She had managed to overcome her fear of loneliness and her fear of lack. She was then happy and quite successful and had a lot of enthusiasm and love for life. She knew then that she could live one day at a time.

PART II: Basic techniques in analyzing concerns

This was about an insurance man. When he started selling insurance, he was filled with boundless enthusiasm and love for his work. Then something happened. He became so discouraged that he despised his work and thought of giving it up. Then, one Saturday morning, he sat down and tried to get to the heart of his concerns. He started asking himself the following questions:

What was the problem?

He wasn’t getting enough returns for the dizzying number of calls he made.

What was the cause of the problem?

He did quite well at selling a prospect, until the time came to close a sale. Then the customer would say, “Well, I’ll think about it, sir. Come see me again”. The time wasted on these follow up calls that caused his depression.

What were all possible solutions?

He checked his accounts for the past twelve months and studied the numbers carefully. He made an amazing discovery! He found that 70% of his sales were closed on the very first interview! By the second interview, another 23% of his sales had closed. And another 7% were closed on those third, fourth, fifth, etc. interviews. He came to the conclusion that he wasted half of his working day completely on a part of his company that was responsible for only seven percent of his turnover!

What was the best solution?

He quickly made the decision that he would immediately cut all visits after the second interview and spend the extra time building new prospects.

PART III: How to break the worrying habit before it breaks you

In this part of the book, we were asked to use the law of averages to outlaw our worries.

One summer, a couple went camping in the Touquin Valley in the Canadian Rockies, about 7,000 feet above sea level. One night a storm threatened to tear their tent to shreds. The flysheet shook and shook and screamed and shrieked in the wind. The woman was terrified and expected every minute that their tent would be ripped loose and flung through the air.

However, her husband kept saying, “Look, my dear, we travel with the Brewsters guides. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been pitching tents in these mountains for sixty years. This tent has been here for many seasons. It’s not yet blown over and by the law of averages it won’t blow away tonight, and even if it does we can shelter in another tent So relax…” The woman did; and she slept soundly for the rest of the night.

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We should be asking ourselves, “What is the probability, according to the law of averages, that a particular event we are concerned about will ever happen?”

PART IV: Ways to Cultivate a Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace and Happiness

We must understand this important rule: instead of worrying about ingratitude, let’s expect it.

A Texas businessman felt bitter because his thirty-four employees didn’t thank him after receiving a bonus of about $300 each before Christmas.

According to Carnegie, instead of wallowing in resentment and self-pity, that man might have wondered why he was not being appreciated. Perhaps he underpaid and overworked his employees. Maybe they didn’t view a Christmas bonus as a gift, but something they earned. Perhaps he was so critical and unapproachable that no one dared or wanted to thank him. Maybe they felt he gave the bonus because most of the profits went to taxes anyway.

On the other hand, the employees may have been selfish, mean and ill-mannered. Could be this or could be that. According to Carnegie, this man made the human and disturbing mistake of expecting gratitude. He just didn’t know human nature.

PART V: The Perfect Way to Overcome Worry

Carnegie wrote in his book that his father returned one day from Maryville, where the banker had threatened to cancel the mortgage, he halted his horses on a bridge that crossed a river, got off the wagon and stood looking down for a long time . the water, debating with himself whether to jump in and put an end to it.

Years later, Carnegie Sr. told him that the only reason he didn’t jump was because of his mother’s deep, abiding, and joyful belief that if we loved God and kept His commandments, all would be well. Mother was right. Everything turned out alright in the end. Father lived forty-two happy years longer and died in 1941, at the age of eighty-nine.

PART VI: How not to worry about criticism

An event in 1929 created a national sensation in educational circles. Men of learning from all over America rushed to Chicago to witness the affair. A few years earlier, a young man named Robert Hutchins had worked his way through Yale, acting as a waiter, lumberjack, teacher, and clothesline salesman. Now, just eight years later, he was inaugurated as president of the fourth richest university in America, the University of Chicago. He was only thirty years old. Incredible! Criticism came roaring down on this “prodigy” like a landslide. Even the newspapers joined in the attack.

On the day he was inaugurated, a friend told Robert Maynard Hutchins’ father, “I was shocked this morning when I read that newspaper article denouncing your son”.

“Yes,” replied the elder Hutchins, “it was serious, but we must remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.”

Yes, and the more important a dog is, the more satisfaction people get from kicking him or her.

Carnegie added that when you are kicked or criticized, remember that it is often done because it gives the kicker a sense of importance. It often means that you are achieving something and deserve attention. Many people get a sense of savage satisfaction in denouncing those who are more educated than they are or more successful.

PART VII: 6 ways to avoid fatigue and worry and keep your energy and mood high

Dale Carnegie listed the following six ways in his book:

Rest before you get tired; Learn to relax at work; Learning to relax at home; Practice good work habits (clear all papers from your desk except those related to the immediate problem; do things in order of importance; if you encounter a problem, solve it on the spot if you have the facts to necessary to organize, delegate and supervise a decision and learning); Bring enthusiasm into your work to avoid worry and fatigue; and remember no one has ever been killed for lack of sleep. It’s worrying about insomnia that does the damage – not the insomnia itself. If you can’t sleep, get up and work or read until you feel sleepy.

PART VIII: “How I Overcame Worry”

In this last part of the book, Carnegie wrote down 31 true stories. In this review I would choose one story, titled “I Lived in the Garden of Allah”. It was about an English gentleman from a wealthy family in Great Britain. After leaving the British army at the beginning of the 20th century, he went to North West Africa and lived with the Arabs in the Sahara, the Garden of Allah.

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He lived there for seven years, learned to speak the language of the nomads, wore their clothes, ate their food and adopted their way of life, which has changed little over the centuries. He also made a detailed study of the religion, Islam, and in fact he later wrote a book about the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, titled “The Messenger”.

He noted that the nomads are so calm about life and never rush or get unnecessarily angry when things go wrong. They know that what is ordained is ordained; and none but Allah can change anything. However, that does not mean that they will sit back and do nothing in the event of a disaster. This is illustrated as below.

One day there was a fierce, burning storm from the sirocco in the Sahara. It howled and screamed for three days and nights. It was so strong, so ferocious, that the sand from the Sahara blew hundreds of miles across the Mediterranean and sprinkled it over the Rhone Valley in France. But the Arabs did not complain. They shrugged and said, “Mektoub!” which means “It is written”.

But immediately after the storm passed, they sprang into action, slaughtering all the lambs because they knew they would die anyway. After the lambs were slaughtered, the flocks were driven south to the water. This was all done calmly, without worry or complaining or mourning their losses. The chief said, “It wasn’t too bad. We might have lost everything. But praise be to Allah, we still have forty percent of our sheep left to make a new start”.

Several years after leaving the Sahara, he still maintains that happy resignation to the inevitable that he had learned from the Arabs. That philosophy has done more to calm his nerves than a thousand tranquilizers could have done.

CONCLUSION

In our daily life, in the fight against worry, I believe in the principle “Be less concerned about what others think, say and do”.