I just finished reading ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living : Time-Tested Methods for Conquering Worry’ from Dale Carnegie. As usual, when I read self-development content I do my best to summarize the content. Doing so provides many tangible benefits and is probably the surest way to actually apply some of the stuff in life. Which, at the end of the day, is what matters most. Below are the points that I personally found interesting and worth remembering. The points are direct quotes from the book and are used for educational purposes. I do give my input on the quotes, but keep in mind that they are most easily understood within the context of their use. Therefore if you think this is worthwhile then please get the book for further reading.
One grain of sand at a time, one task at a time. So let’s be content to live from now until bedtime.
We can only do so much in a day, let’s stay focused and avoid spreading ourselves thin.
Every day is a new life to a wise man.
We can avoid worrying by living in what Dale calls ‘day-tight compartments’. There’s no point thinking about our past screw ups beyond getting a lesson from them nor is it wise to dread tomorrow’s events if they might never happen.
Chapter 2 and 3
How to deal with problems that worry us :
- Ask yourself, what is the worst that can possibly happen if I can’t solve my problem?
- Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst — if necessary.
- Then calmly try to improve upon the worst — which you have already mentally agreed to accept.
If we can’t stop thinking about a problem, we might as well prepare ourselves mentally to the worst outcome. This may alleviate our worries by giving us a clear picture of what could happen.
Those who do not know how to fight worry die young.
Understand that equipping yourself with the right mental tools to deal with worrying is priceless. It is worth acquiring these tools for improved quality of life.
How to deal with a worry :
- Writing down precisely what I am worried about.
- Writing down what I can do about it.
- Deciding what to do.
- Starting immediately to carry out that decision.
Writing down our worry is a good exercise that helps us get a clear picture and action is often the best remedy.
Have people coming up to you with problems all the time? Have them fill up a form with answers to the following four questions. Chances are they will figure it out on their own. Or at least they will have a clear picture of the problem, so will you.
- What is the problem?
- What is the cause of the problem?
- What are possible solutions to the problem?
- What solution do you suggest?
The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.
I couldn’t agree more. This leisure usually translates to boredom. found out why you are bored if you hate boredom and need to think about something.
Keep busy. The worried person must love himself in action, lest he wither in despair.
This is true. I might add that it will be especially effective when our actions our purposeful. We want to avoid climbing the ladder against the wrong wall! Otherwise, keeping busy is a good way of dismissing our train of thoughts.
Nearly all of our worries and unhappiness come from our imagination and not from reality.
We all know this. Unfortunately we often give in to our thoughts. How often do our thoughts never leave our head? Too many times. Let’s put a stop to it by catching ourselves whenever our minds wander for long periods of time.
Let’s examine the record, what are the chances?
It can be worth looking at statistics to see what are the odds. Taking a flight is difficult for some individuals, but when you look at statistics you have 1 in 11 million chances of dying in a plane crash. The odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 5000!
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
Classic quote. Read it a few times to instill this priceless advice.
Cooperate with the inevitable.
If shit hits the fan, shit hits the fan. Acceptance is a powerful tool. It can make an uncomfortable experience more bearable.
You have a worrying thought pestering you frequently? Put a stop/loss order on your worry:
How much does this thing I am worrying about really matter to me?
At what point shall I set a “stop-loss” order on this worry — and forget it?
Exactly how much shall I pay for this whistle? Have I already paid more than it is worth?
To put you into context, the “stop-loss” order is inspired by the stock market action which let’s you automatically sell a stock after it reaches a certain threshold.
This habit is surprisingly useful. If you find yourself worrying about something trivial 15–20 times over an hour or two, you can put a stop-loss order on this worry and surely enough, it will stop disturbing your peace of mind.
Don’t cry over spilled milk.
A classic adage. I recently lost my left leather glove and a scarf that was dear to me. Partly due to a state of intoxication. After doing what I could to find them back the next morning I accepted my situation and moved on; No use crying over spilled milk.
A man is what he thinks all day long, how could he possibly be anything else?
This thought is so obvious, that I was oblivious to it. Now and then as I do my commute, I do an internal check up to see what I am thinking about. If it’s worrying, resentment or anything that invalidates my purpose I do what I can to shake things up and influence myself into a confident state of mind.
Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.
I’m putting this one in bold. It’s a citation that resonated with me and is worth contemplating on. Give yourself a quiet day to see how this may apply to you.
Let’s never waste a minute thinking about people we don’t like.
To put another way, resentment is wanting to poison someone by drinking the poison yourself. Avoid the feeling at all costs.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.
This was Bernard Baruch’s answer when Dale Carnegie asked him if he has ever been disturbed by the attacks of his enemies during the war.
People who are ill from ingratitude, loneliness and neglect. They long to be loved, but the only way in this world that they can ever hope to be loved is to stop asking for it and to start pouring out love without hope of return.
Words of truth.
You can express only what is in your own consciousness. I resolved to think only the thoughts I wanted to live by.
It all starts in the mind. Pay attention to what you are thinking about, if it’s counter-productive or painful, face them.
Count your blessings not your troubles.
Similar to being grateful for what we already have. The human brain is almost wired to always seek things to fill an imaginary pit. Reverse this process and start seeing that life can work for you instead of the opposite.
I had the blues because I had no shoes. Until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.
One of my favorite quotes in the book. It’s quite visual. I personally don’t like comparing myself to people who are worst-off, but there’s nothing wrong with using every tool in the bag to swing our mood back up and create value for ourselves and consequently everyone else.
Nobody is so miserable as he who longs to be somebody and something other than the person he is in body and mind.
I won’t talk about the feasibility aspect involved here, but if we can at least avoid mass-exposure to media and cultivate a sense of worth for ourselves we might just make our world that much better.
Nobody wants a phony. Nobody ever wants a counterfeit coin.
It’s so much better to act on our own value system, even if it means shaking up people in our immediate surrounding. There is a fine line between being yourself and respecting the social ethics that are in place. You will know if you are fooling yourself or if you are being a jerk. Use those hints. As Thoreau once said : “Above all else, do not lie to yourself”.
Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw the mud, the other one saw the stars.
The north-wind made the vikings.
The best things are the most difficult, happiness is not mostly pleasure, it is mostly victory. The victory that comes from a sense of achievement, of triumph. Question your definition of happiness. Question your relationship with opposition.
Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find it; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Powerful words to live by.
None ever kicks a dead dog.
If it’s done it’s done. Move on.
Do the very best you can and just laugh at criticism.
As far as I am concerned, laughing can be a real life-saver. I remember seeing a man who had lost everything but kept on living for his family who said that he would have long gone insane if it wasn’t for his ability to laugh things off.
Benjamin Franklin gave himself a severe going-over every night. He discovered faults which he wanted eliminated… Go over your good and bad moves every night.
Be honest with yourself, this practice can lead to better living standards.
Rest up before before getting tired: take frequent rests!
People ask me why I look so healthy after a week at work during a late-night party. What they don’t know is that I take an hour-long nap before leaving the house before supper!
I find that the chief obstacle is the almost universal belief that hard work requires a feeling of effort else it is not well done.
I’d like to think that this is what separates adepts from masters.
Try to make up a story about the next person you meet.
This one is a classic for increasing personal warmth with people. It is an exercise that can help us boost our charisma, become more approachable and develop a sense of humility with everyone.