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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Book Summary – Dale Carnegie

What you will learn from reading How to stop Worrying:

– The principles behind building a worry free life.

– Different perspectives on dealing with criticism, enemies and stress.

– How to add acceptance to your life so you can improve your well-being.

Why don’t you stop right now and ask yourself: “What in the hell am I worrying about?”

Each day is a clean slate:

‘Every day is a new life to a wise man.’  “I typed that sentence out and pasted it on the windshield of my car, where I saw it every minute I was driving. I found it wasn’t so hard to live only one day at a time.”


Imagination is a double edged sword:

“My life,” he said, “has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” 

Remember your imagination is a useful servant but a lousy master.


Cultivate acceptance:

“It is so. It cannot be otherwise.”

Acceptance of what has happened is the first step in overcoming the consequences of any misfortune

However, when we force ourselves to face the worst and accept it mentally, we then eliminate all these vague imaginings and put ourselves in a position in which we are able to concentrate on our problem.

Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.

Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can possibly happen?” Prepare to accept it if you have to. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.


Take responsibility for everything:

“No one but myself,” said Napoleon at St. Helena, “no one but myself can be blamed for my fall. I have been my own greatest enemy—the cause of my own disastrous fate.”


Use Facts:

Get the facts. Analyze the facts. Arrive at a decision—and then act on that decision.

Charles Kettering puts it: “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” 

1. What am I worrying about? 

2. What can I do about it?


Busyness as a cure for worry:

I’m too busy. I have no time for worry.”

“I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

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


Focus on the present:

“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour.


Ignore trivial issues:

“Trivialities are at the bottom of most marital unhappiness”;

Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. Remember “Life is too short to be little.”

But many of our adult’s worries are almost as absurd. You and I could probably eliminate nine-tenths of our worries right now if we would cease our fretting long enough to discover whether, by the law of averages, there was any real justification for our worries.


The law of averages:

‘By the law of averages, it won’t happen.’

“Let’s examine the record.” Let’s ask ourselves: “What are the chances, according to the law of averages, that this event I am worrying about will ever occur?”


Forget the Past:

“Of course, you can’t saw sawdust!” Mr. Shedd exclaimed. “It’s already sawed! And it’s the same with the past. When you start worrying about things that are over and done with, you’re merely trying to saw sawdust.”

In the book there is a story about a teacher who has just become bankrupt. When someone asked him if he knew he was bankrupt, he replied, “Yes, I heard”—and went on with his teaching. This is a powerful example of acknowledging the past and moving on.


Create Structure in your life:

Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurrying and indecision.


Stop hating your enemies:

When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness. Our enemies would dance with joy if only they knew how they were worrying us.


How to act when someone annoys you:

I am sorry and ashamed of myself. I will now apply myself more diligently to the study of the Swedish language and try to correct my mistakes. I want to thank you for helping me get started on the road to self-improvement.

But, for the sake of our own health and happiness, let’s at least forgive them and forget them. That is the smart thing to do. ‘To be wronged or robbed,” said Confucius, “is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”

Remember and say this — “I am going to meet people today who talk too much—people who are selfish, egotistical, ungrateful. But I won’t be surprised or disturbed, for I couldn’t imagine a world without, such people.”

People most likely won’t be grateful (so don’t try to bend reality to your view).

It is natural for people to forget to be grateful; so, if we go around expecting gratitude, we are headed straight for a lot of heartaches.


You are what you pay attention to:

Count your blessings—not your troubles!

Two men looked out from prison bars, One saw the mud, the other saw the stars.


Make sure you can live with your losses by imagining what they could be:

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?

The late William Bolitho, author of Twelve Against the Gods, put it like this: “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.”


Take interest in others and give:

“The ideal man,” said Aristotle, “takes joy in doing favors for others.”

This statement was made by Alfred Adier. He used to say to his melancholia patients: “You can be cured in fourteen days if you follow this prescription. Try to think every day how you can please someone.”

What about the grocery boy, the newspaper vendor, the chap at the corner who polishes your shoes? These people are human—bursting with troubles, and dreams, and private ambitions. They are also bursting for the chance to share them with someone.

I will ask a barber if he doesn’t get tired standing on his feet all day. I’ll ask him how he came to take up bartering—how long he has been at it and how many heads of hair he has cut. I’ll help him figure it out. I find that taking an interest in people makes them beam with pleasure

Forget yourself by becoming interested in others. Do every day do a good deed that will put a smile of joy on someone’s face.


Help people see what is right in-front of them:

When I meet a man on the street with a beautiful dog, I always comment on the dog’s beauty. As I walk on and glance back over my shoulder, I frequently see the man petting and admiring the dog. My appreciation has renewed his appreciation.

A Chinese proverb puts it this way: “A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses.”


Dealing with criticism:

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized, anyway. You’ll be ‘damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.’” That is her advice.

So when you are kicked and criticized, remember that it is often done because it gives the kicker a feeling of importance. It often means that you are accomplishing something and are worthy of attention.

Remember, in the case of those who are criticising it is almost impossible not to believe what you want to believe. They want to believe that you got lucky, or that you don’t deserve your success they will find a way to justify it. Let them believe what they want to believe. 

Remember that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment. Remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog.


Ben Franklins Serious Faults:

He discovered that he had thirteen serious faults. 

Here are three of them: wasting time, stewing around over trifles, arguing and contradicting people. 

Wise old Ben Franklin realized that, unless he eliminated these handicaps, he wasn’t going to get very far. So he battled with one of his shortcomings every day for a week, and kept a record of who had won each day’s slugging match.


Good working habits:

Good Working Habit: When You Face a Problem, Solve It Then and There, if You Have the Facts Necessary to Make a Decision, Don’t Keep Putting off Decisions. 

Those two priceless abilities: first, the ability to think. Second, the ability to do things in the order of their importance.

Northwestern Railway, once said, “A person with his desk piled high with papers on various matters will find his work much easier and more accurate if he clears that desk of all but the immediate problem on hand. I call this good housekeeping, and it is the number-one step toward efficiency.”

Now I work at one desk, settle things as they come up, and don’t have a mountain of unfinished business nagging at me and making me tense and worried. But the most astonishing thing is I’ve recovered completely. There is nothing wrong any more with my health!”


Make things fun, using your imagination:

Every morning before he started out be looked into the mirror and gave himself a pep talk: “Kaltenborn, you have to do this if you want to eat. Since you have to do it—why not have a good time doing it? Why not imagine every time you ring a doorbell that you are an actor before the footlights and that there’s an audience out there looking at you?

Miss Vallie Golden used the wonder-working ‘as if’ philosophy of Professor Hans Vaihinger. He taught us to act ‘as if’ we were happy—and so on. If you act ‘as if’ you are interested in your job, that bit of acting will tend to make your interest real. It will also tend to decrease your fatigue, your tensions, and your worries.


Bordem, worry and energy levels:

Dr. Thorndike is reported to have said: “Boredom is the only real cause of diminution of work.”

The lesson to be learned? Just this: our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration, and resentment.