Summary of “How to stop worrying and start living”: Carnegie’s book is a collection of tested recipes told in a captivating way: relying on the real life experiences of illustrious or unknown individuals and their success,How to stop worrying made an undying impression on me, so much so that at the age of fourteen, I wrote a summary that I carried with me everywhere I went…
By Dale Carnegie, 1944 (First Edition), 1993 (most recent Edition), 340 pages.
Note : this is a guest chronicle written by Dominique Biot from the blog “Argent, travail et réussite avec les livres numériques”
Chronicle and summary of “How to stop worrying and start living”
In 1944 “How to stop worrying and start living” came out for the first time. The book has been reprinted 24 times since then! In fact, “How to stop worrying” can be compared to its more famous little brother “How to make friends”, which, in my opinion, summarises “How to stop worrying”, or more specifically complements it.
Dale Carnegie begins with a moving introduction – How this book was written and why – in which he explains the circumstances that encouraged him to get out of depression by helping others: a kind of concrete therapy experimented on himself, and then taught to his students. It is composed of nine parts, each containing three to six sections that are very comprehensive, and very lively. Famous figures are quoted along with their extraordinary testimony…
PART ONE: FUNDAMENTAL FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WORRY
Live in “Day-tight” compartments
Who do you think wrote these lines:
“Happy the man, and happy he alone, he who can call today his own: he who, secure within, can say, Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.”
You might think you are reading some modern poetry, right? Wrong. Horace, the great Roman poet wrote those lines. One of the common traits of human nature is our tendency to push back reality. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught his disciples that the same man cannot bathe in the same river twice. We do not really enjoy the present because we are so busy living in the past or in the future… Carpe Diem – seize the day – that was being taught in Rome.
In short, if you want to lead a serene life, shut the heavy doors to the past and to the future. Live in watertight compartments where the here and now are all that matters!
A magic formula for solving worrying situations
Would you like to hear about a rapid method to fix a scary situation? A technique that you can put into practice right now, before you even finish reading this article? Yes? Well then, allow me to introduce you to the recommendations of Willis Carrier, an engineer in Buffalo, and I quote:
When you are worried about a situation, apply the Willis Carrier magic formula, which consists of the three following steps:
- Figure out, coldly and clearly, what are the worst consequences that you may be facing.
- Be prepared to accept the worst if it happens.
- Then, calmly devote yourself to improving upon the worst.
That is how he got through difficult times, and many others like him have come to understand that only an objective and methodical vision of events allows you to overcome them…
What worry may do to you
A few months ago, I went with one of my friends to see a thyroid specialist in Philadelphia for an examination. Guess what it said on a giant poster in the waiting room? Here it is, I copied it down for you:
“The most efficient factors for total relaxation are: sleep, music, and gaiety. Learn how to sleep soundly, to appreciate good music, and to see the funny side of life. You will find and you will keep health and happiness.”
Like Doctor Alexis Carrel wrote: “Businessmen who do not know how to fight worry die young”
PART TWO: BASIC TECHNIQUES IN ANALYZING WORRY
How to analyze and solve worrying problems
We need to face hardships by learning to analyze every problem in three steps, said Mr. Lichtfield, and this method is what saved him during the war:
- Get the facts
- Analyze the facts
- Come to a decision, and then carry it out no matter what.
How to eliminate fifty percent of your business worries
At the time of writing these lines, Frank Bettger is one of the primary representatives of the company Fidelity from Philadelphia. And yet, a decade earlier, he was about to resign when suddenly, a reasoned analysis of his situation set him on the road to success. Ever since that moment, he has always asked himself four questions:
- What is the problem?
- What is the cause?
- And what are all possible solutions?
- Which of them should I choose?
PART THREE: HOW TO BREAK THE WORRY HABIT, BEFORE IT BREAKS YOU
How to crowd worry out of your mind
Tormenting yourself, in the final analysis, is a habit and I had picked up this habit every time I encountered anxiety. Georges Bernard Shaw was right when he said: “The secret to being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.”
So, when worry gets hold of you, keep busy. A worried man should keep himself busy all the time unless he wants to die of despair about all the trials he is facing.
Don’t let the beetles get you down
Very often, it’s the little details, the small things that put our lives in danger. How many domestic disputes are over nothing? We know how to mobilize for disasters, but we often neglect those little troubles and they eventually break us like termites devouring a home…
To break the ongoing onslaught of worry before that worry breaks you, follow rule No. 2:
Don’t let the beetles get you down.
A law that will outlaw many of your worries
Do you know how to calculate probabilities? When Al Smith was governor of New York, I heard him respond to attacks from his adversaries, always repeating: “Look at the figures, study the statistics”, and then he made the indisputable facts that spoke in his favor publicly, objectively, without any unnecessary emotion, effectively…
So, before your worries break you, follow rule No. 3:
- Ask yourself the question: Look at the figures.
- Ask yourself whether, after calculating the probability, the event that is causing you concern has any serious chance of taking place.
- What are the chances?
Co-operate with the inevitable
Teachers of Jiu-jitsu offer their students the following teaching: “bend like a reed, do not resist like an oak”. In your opinion, why do the tires on your car support friction, wear, shocks and gravel? Because they accept these inconveniences, these obstacles, by co-operating with them, molding with them thanks to their soft and rubbery texture…
Now, every time I begin to torture myself about something I cannot change, I shrug my shoulders and say: “Don’t give it another thought, accept the inevitable and work with what you can change.”
Put a stop-loss order on your worries
Every time you are tempted to spoil your nervous energy, you should first stop and ask yourself these three questions:
- How much does this thing that is worrying me really mean to me?
- At what point should I place a stop-loss order on this business, and not think about it anymore?
- What is the maximum price that I am willing to pay for this thing? Have I already paid more than it is worth?
Don’t try to saw sawdust
One day I was visiting the famous prison of Sing Sing and I was particularly struck by the fact that most of the inmates appeared to be just as happy as free men. The governor of the prison told me that sometime after their arrival, most of the criminals eventually accept what has brought them there, and adapt in order to live their incarceration as well as possible. He told me about the inmate-gardener who would sing as he tended to his vegetables behind the pitiless walls of the penitentiary…
He demonstrated more common sense than most of us: he knew that in any event, all the gold in the world could not change anything in the past. So let’s be like him:
Don’t try to saw sawdust.
PART FOUR: SEVEN WAYS TO CULTIVATE A MENTAL ATTITUDE THAT WILL BRING YOU PEACE AND HAPPINESS
Eight words that can transform your life
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking, wrote the emperor Marcus Aurelius in the second century after Christ. And Norman Vincent Peale echoed him as the twentieth century approached: A man is not what he thinks he is, but he is what he thinks.
In other words, depending on whether you see the good in life or not, your thoughts will shape and influence your whole life.
If you really want to adopt a mental attitude that will bring you happiness, follow rule No. 1:
Think happy and act happy – and you will be happy.
The high cost of getting even
As Shakespeare so aptly put it:
“Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself”.
In order to cultivate a serene attitude towards your potential enemies, apply rule N°2:
Never try to get even with your enemies, because if you try to get revenge, it will hurt you more than it will hurt them. Follow the example of Eisenhower who advised: Never waste a minute thinking about people you don’t like.
If you do this, you will never worry about ingratitude
Human beings are ungrateful by nature, and we see this every day. Gratitude? It is cultivated, it has to be maintained… If you don’t want to be bitter about ingratitude, live by rule No. 3:
- Instead of hoping for a word or a gesture of gratitude, and getting indignant when you receive neither, always expect complete and total ingratitude. Remember that Christ healed 10 lepers in one day, and only one of them expressed his gratitude. Why should you be better rewarded?
- Remember that to find happiness, you must not demand gratitude but give for the pleasure of giving.
- Remember that gratitude is not an innate quality, but a virtue that is acquired. Therefore, if you want your children to be grateful, you must get them into the habit by demonstrating gratitude towards others as an example.
Would you take a million dollars for what you have?
An American philosopher Logan Pearsall Smith amassed a treasure of wisdom in these few lines: “There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.”
If you really want to triumph over your worries and start to live, follow rule No. 4:
Count your reasons to be happy – and not your misfortunes.
Find yourself and be yourself
When Charlie Chaplin began working in film, his production director demanded that he imitate a German comic who was very much in vogue at the time. Chaplin only stepped into the limelight when he decided to ignore that advice and create his own character – being himself.
If you want to cultivate a mental attitude that leads to serenity, observe rule No. 5:
Do not imitate others. Try to understand your own personality, and be yourself.
Did life hand you a lemon? Then make lemonade.
The more I study the careers of men of genius, writes Dale Carnegie, the more I realize that most of them stand out precisely because they started life with a handicap that motivated them to make exceptional efforts and to set higher goals. Like William James said: “Our very infirmities help us unexpectedly.”
Therefore, make every effort to apply rule N°6 :
Did life hand you a lemon? Well then, figure out how to make lemonade.
How to cure depression in fourteen days
The great writer Theodore Dreiser never missed an opportunity to poke fun at religion. And yet, Dreiser always preached one of the essential principles of Christianity: love thy neighbor. “If we are to extract any joy out of our span, we must think and plan and make things better not only for ourselves but for others, since joy for ourselves depends upon our joy in others and theirs in us.”
So, armed with this opinion, practice rule No. 7:
Let’s forget our own unhappiness–by trying to create a little happiness for others. When you are good to others, you are best to yourself. Do one good deed every day that will bring a smile to a troubled face.
PART FIVE: HOW TO KEEP FROM WORRYING ABOUT CRITICISM
Remember that no-one ever kicks a dead dog
In 1862, General Grant won the first great victory of the northern States. This made him a national hero. And yet, six weeks later, Grant was arrested, stripped of his command, and had insults and curses thrown at him. Why was Grant arrested when he was at the height of his glory? Mainly because he had aroused the jealousy and envy of his superiors, men who were full of vanity and arrogance.
What is the moral of this story? Every time that you are about to get worked up over some unfair criticism, remember rule No. 1:
Never forget that unfair criticism is often a compliment in disguise. Tell yourself that criticism often means that you have aroused jealousy and envy.
Do this – and criticism can’t hurt you
Theodore Roosevelt’s niece was one of the most criticized women of her time. How did she resist the onslaught of hate from her enemies? She explained that when she was young and extremely shy, she went to her aunt for some advice. “As long as you are confident that you are right to act the way you do, don’t worry about what people might say”, she advised her. And, added Eleanor Roosevelt, this little piece of advice became the cornerstone of my existence.
Every time that you are criticized unjustly, observe rule N°2:
Do the very best you can; and then put up your old umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck.
Foolish things I have done
E.H.Little was a sales representative for soap bars manufactured by Colgate, and they weren’t selling. What did he do, instead of becoming disheartened? He had the nerve to go back to see the people who refused to buy from him and ask them what he was doing wrong when he was trying to convince them. That way, he became one of the richest men in the United States.
If you want to remain calm despite any criticism that is thrown at you, follow rule No 3:
Let’s keep a record of the foolish things we have done and criticize ourselves. Since we can’t hope to be perfect, let’s do what E. H. Little did: let’s ask for unbiased, helpful, constructive criticism.
PART SIX: SIX WAYS TO PREVENT FATIGUE AND WORRY
How to add one hour a day to your waking life
Did you know that your heart rests more than it works? In reality, the resting time between each contraction determines that it works only nine hours out of twenty-four. John Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others would not have missed their daily rest period for the world because they believed it was a necessary part of their day; which led to their strength and their success.
If you want to stay in top form in order to overcome the challenges in your life, do like these sensible people: imitate your heart by resting in order to work better.
What makes you tired – and what you can do about it
The causes of fatigue come from the nervous tension that we accumulate. Did you know that this tension comes from the negative feelings that we experience?
By learning to work in a relaxed way, by relaxing at every opportunity, and by creating multiple short breaks between each stage of your day, you will combat destructive and demoralizing fatigue.
How to avoid fatigue and remain youthful!
Follow this advice in order to avoid fatigue.
- Do not focus on other people’s faults, instead look at their qualities.
- Take an interest in your neighbors, in those around you.
- Establish your program for the next day before you go to bed.
- Find opportunities to relax every day. Lie on the floor and breathe slowly, releasing all your tension.
Four good working habits that will help prevent fatigue and worry
- Clear your desk of all papers except those relating to the immediate problem at hand.
- Do things in the order of their importance.
- When you face a problem, solve it then and there if you have the facts necessary to make a decision. Do not put things off until tomorrow.
- Learn to organize, deputize, and supervise.
How to banish the boredom that produces fatigue, worry, and resentment
One of the main causes of fatigue is boredom, and boredom generates the only cause behind our decreased capacity. Don’t you enjoy your work? By forcing yourself to find an interesting side to your job, or to give it a more interesting form, you will find that you hate it less and less.
Always remember that if you are interested in your job, you soothe your worries and your fears, not forgetting that in the long run, you will get a promotion and probably a raise due to the inevitable results that come from your new vision of things.
How to keep from worrying about insomnia, don’t worry too much
If you suffer from insomnia, don’t worry about it and apply the five following rules:
- Get up, work or read until sleep takes over.
- Remember that no one ever died from lack of sleep. In general, the fear of not being able to sleep causes much more havoc than insomnia itself.
- If you are a believer, pray!
- Relax your body using the Dr Fink method.
- Do some physical exercises. Make yourself so tired that you cannot help but fall asleep.
PART SEVEN: HOW TO FIND THE KIND OF WORK IN WHICH YOU MAY BE HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL
The major decision of your life
Along with marriage, choosing a job you like is capital for your future life.
- Therefore, gather all the facts before making a decision. If you neglect this precaution, you may find yourself regretting it for the rest of your life.
- Then, forget about the idea that you are not cut out for such a profession. Every normal person is perfectly capable of succeeding in several careers, in the same way as they will probably fail at others.
PART EIGHT: HOW TO LESSEN YOUR FINANCIAL WORRIES
Seventy percent of all our worries…
Seventy percent of your worries are about money, and to avoid financial concerns as much as possible, follow these budget tips:
- Write down your expenses in black and white.
- Work out a personalized budget which genuinely includes all your needs.
- Don’t increase your headaches when you increase your income.
- Protect yourself against illness, fires, and all kinds of unforeseeable expenses.
- Teach your children the value of money.
- Never gamble… NEVER!
PART NINE: REAL LIFE STORIES
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living includes a number of anecdotes, as we have seen, and goes on to give us a somewhat expanded version of some of them, in order to make us feel that people who have lived according to these precepts have benefited so greatly from them that when they talk about it, they are very passionate. Here is a small panel of the most edifying:
- Six Major Troubles Hit Me All at Once
- How I Got Rid of an Inferiority Complex
- Five Methods I Have Used to Banish Worry
- I Used to be one of the World’s Biggest Jackasses
6 activities and tips to combat stress
Studies have shown: moderate and regular physical exercise is a formidable tool to fight stress If possible, include a team sport among your exercise, such as football, or a sport that two people can play, such as tennis, because camaraderie and bonds of friendship can also help to combat stress.
While many may consider it esoteric, meditation is recognized as a fabulous vector against stress. Scientific studies carried out in several research centers have all led to conclusive results. In his book, The Art of Meditation, Matthieu Ricard attributes his joyful and positive vision of life to regular meditation.
3. Good friendships
It is important to have good friends around us to combat stress. Choose people who support your projects and with whom you can share moments of joy. At the same time, move away from those who are hostile to your decisions as they will be a source of stress.
4. Full consciousness
What is full consciousness? It is a Buddhism practice. It is the act of living in the present moment and the observation of our thoughts. Many of us do not realize it, but our thinking is very often the main cause of our stress levels. It is easier to get caught up in something and lose perspective over something that is not worth it. Practicing full consciousness helps us observe our thoughts and turn them into a more productive direction.
Nowadays, yoga is very popular across the world and has long been recognized as a physical activity that can help to combat stress and offers very convincing results. Thanks to its meditative nature, yoga requires you to be relaxed and naturally leads to introspection as well as to the development of a bond between the brain and the body.
Yoga is also a physical form of full consciousness because it asks you to focus on the present moment. Moreover, yoga is usually practiced within a group, which means that you find yourself surrounded by relaxed people with healthy lifestyles. Thanks to its combination of several activities that help to combat stress, yoga becomes is an excellent anti-stress tool.
Spending time in nature, watching a sunset, observing the sea or the mountains, sitting in a park, taking a walk in a forest or even just spending a few minutes looking out the window offers us the opportunity to rest and recharge our batteries. This idea is at the heart of Kaplan’s attention restoration theory.
This theory was developed and popularised by Stephen and Rachel Kaplan at the end of the 1980s and at the beginning of the 1990s, a period characterized by numerous technological advances and a rapid growth in forms of electronic entertainment.
Since then, many studies have confirmed this theory. So, go out and take a walk in nature at least once a week; this will be extremely beneficial for your psychological balance.
Book critique of “How to stop worrying and start living” :
When I came across How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, my father had received it in order to follow the seminars produced by the Carnegie company in the 1970s. Willingly or reluctantly, he had to go, but never talked to me about them, only telling me that I could browse the book, which I did…
What a revelation for the young teenager I was at the time! Despite the fact that I have not always been able to apply these tips through a lack of perseverance, I can tell you that some of the lines affected me deeply to the point that even today, 40 years later, some of the proverbs are like a leitmotiv, to boost me.
Olivier talks enthusiastically about the book How to win friends and influence people: “Dale Carnegie seems to write as he speaks, staying very concrete, concise and relevant, and using many examples from real life”. I would add: he does this in all his books and does so by telling the story of a monarch or a manual laborer or by describing the life of a movie star, each the product of challenges they have overcome.
Reading “How to stop worrying” allows us to live these concepts that are so easily described and understand how to apply them on a daily basis.
Real-life stories fans will be thrilled, stimulated, and encouraged!
Strong Points of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
- Dale Carnegie sprinkled his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” of with tasty, informative, and captivating anecdotes.
- Realistic, lucid, and persuasive positivism
- Essential and eternal principles that anyone can apply
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is a good book that you can read over and over again
Weak Points of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
- Some of the examples given by Dale Carnegie will seem quite dated and young readers will have trouble identifying with these stories from another time
- Perhaps too moralistic for some
- It is difficult to update the book within the parameters of the 21st century which are sometimes extremely different
My rating :
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