When I was looking for a book related to our monthly theme of Happiness, I found a book by Dale Carnegie entitled How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. It’s clearly related to happiness. Worrying is an opposite of being happy and learning how to overcome worrying means learning how to be happy. Since I knew Dale Carnegie’s reputation, I decided to pick a copy and read it.

Inside How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

How to Stop Worrying and Start LivingThe book is divided into eight parts with several chapters in each. I can’t cover all those chapters in this review, so I will just write some that particularly resonate with me.

Part One: Fundamental Facts You Should Know About Worry

1. Live in “Day-tight Compartments”

Often we worry because we take the burden of both the past and the future with us today. That makes the situation look much more difficult. What we should do is to focus just on today.

I love this tip. Sometimes I still carry the burden of the past and worry about the future, but this chapter clearly points out that what important is today. If I do my best today, the future will take care of itself.

2. A Magic Formula for Solving Worry Situations

To solve worry situations, there are three steps you should do. First, ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?”. Second, be willing to accept the worst if necessary. Third, calmly try to fix the situation you have accepted.

It takes practice to apply this tip, especially the second step, but it helps us regain our calm. We can then think how to solve the situation.

Part Two: Basic Techniques in Analyzing Worry

4. How to Analyze and Solve Worry Problems

To overcome worrying, you should know how to analyze and solve worry problems. You can do that by finding and collecting all the facts, analyzing those facts, making a decision, and act on it.

This tip is good because we usually worry about something we are uncertain about. Once we get everything clear, we can see what we should do about it.

Part Three: How to Break the Worry Habit Before It Breaks You

6. How to Crowd Worry Out of Your Mind

There is one simple way to crowd worry out of your mind: make yourself busy. When our mind is occupied with work, we won’t have time to worry.

I think it applies not only to worry, but to all kinds of negative thoughts as well. We will greatly decrease their influence if we are busy doing something constructive.

9. Co-operate with the Inevitable

Often we aren’t happy because we try to change things we can’t change. We should learn to identify those things and accept them.

This is something I personally apply. Whenever I encounter a problem, I quickly assess whether or not I can do something about it. If the answer is no, I will just forget it and move to something else.

Part Four: Seven Ways to Cultivate a Mental Attitude that Will Bring You Peace and Happiness

15. Would You Take a Million Dollars for What You Have?

If we want to be happy, we should focus on 90 percent things that work well in our life and forget the 10 percent that don’t. On the contrary, if we want to worry we should focus on the 10 percent that don’t work well and forget the 90 percent that work. Which one do you choose?

18. How to Cure Depression in Fourteen Days

There is a “magic” way to cure depression: make other people happy. If you focus on how to make others happy, you will inevitable make yourself happy. The less you think about yourself, the more you will be happy.

Part Five: The Perfect Way to Conquer Worry

19. How My Mother and Father Conquered Worry

You can find strengths in spirituality to overcome worry even for seemingly unsurmountable problems. Carnegie said that spirituality is the perfect way to overcome worry and I agree with him.

Part Six: How to Keep From Worrying About Criticism

21. Do This – and Criticism Can’t Hurt You

Do your work as good as possible and then open your umbrella so that the rain of criticisms won’t touch you.

I love it. I should worry not about what other people say but about whether or not I’ve done my best. Once I’ve done my best, I can be happy no matter what people say.

22. Fool Things I Have Done

One of the best teachers is your own experience. You can learn from it by taking notes of the fool things you have done and criticize yourself. If you constantly do this, you will constantly improve yourself.

Part Seven: Six Ways to Prevent Fatigue and Worry and Keep Your Energy and Spirits High

23. How to Add One Hour a Day to Your Waking Life

While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your productivity is to take rest regularly. Take rest before you feel tired. Doing this simple thing will energize yourself throughout the day and enable you to accomplish more.

Energy management is a topic I’m interested in right now since this is something I should learn to do better.

27. How to Banish the Boredom That Produces Fatigue, Worry, and Resentment

Learning to banish boredom is essential for happiness. An effective way to do that is by making what you do interesting. Even things that look boring can be made interesting if you are creative. For example, you can turn your work into a contest either just for yourself or with your colleagues

While I try to follow my passions, there are always some “boring” things I must do. If I can learn to make them interesting, I can accomplish much more in my life.

Part Eight: “How I Conquered Worry”

This part contains many stories of individuals who applied the principles outlined in previous parts. There are also some new tips that haven’t been covered before.

One of them is reading history. Reading history helps you get wider perspective of the world so that you can see how small your problem actually is.

Conclusion

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is one of the best books on happiness. In fact, it’s the best book (aside from a few spiritual books) I’ve found so far on being happy.

This book is full of useful tips. It gives you advice that covers practically every aspects you can think of about worry. More than just theoretical tips, they are proven tips that have been applied by many people throughout the history. The book itself is full of stories that describe how people apply those tips in their life.

Besides teaching me about how to stop worrying, this book also teaches me about how to write. The way Dale Carnegie wrote impresses me. He took seven years of preparation to write this book. During that time he collected many stories, read a lot of books, and interviewed many people about the topic. Now I understand the tip given by On Writing Well:

You should always collect more material than you will use. Every article is strong in proportion to the surplus of details from which you can choose the few that will serve you best.

Dale Carnegie did it. That’s why reading How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is like reading centuries’ worth of wisdom in one book.


Categories: Attitude, Review

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  • http://shanelyang.com/blogs/articles/ Shanel Yang

    Great review, Donald! I would like to add that it helps to read inspirational quotes about happiness from those who have gone before us, which is why I posted “200 Happiness Quotes” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/07/26/200-happiness-quotes/

    As for Dale Carnegie, I’m a HUGE fan! I basically summarized his entire classic How to Win Friends and Influence People at http://shanelyang.com/2007/10/09/how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people/

  • http://outsorcerer.com/blog Ishani Mitra

    This is really a motivating and inspirational read.

  • http://www.improvedlives.com Stu | Improved Lives

    I think part 8 is one of the most important. People often don’t realize how useful stories and biographies can be for inspiration. By looking at the amazing things that other people have accomplished, we realize that it’s not impossible for us to do amazing things too.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Shanel,
    I agree that reading happiness quotes is helpful. In fact, I did just that when I wrote my Being Happy post :) I’m also a fan of Dale Carnegie.

    Ishani,
    Thanks!

    Stu,
    That’s right. It’s much easier to internalize something through stories. The book Made to Stick wrote that stories are “mental simulators”.

  • http://www.expressyourselftosuccess.com Laurie | Express Yourself to Success

    Great overview of some important points. I hadn’t considered how worry has affected my happiness, but as you point out, it does. Thanks for that.

    #18 – How to cure depression is great. Happiness is contagious and if you can make someone else happy, it’ll come right back to you.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Laurie,
    Yes, being contagious is an interesting characteristic of happiness. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but it’s the truth.

  • http://www.getyoursuccessnow.com Rigdha

    Great review!

    I read the book a couple months ago and I found I completely agree with you. It’s one of the best books on worrying and happiness. I used to be a chronic worrier..the book was almost like a turning point in my life!

    I’d recommend it to anyone who worries a lot (like me) :)

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Rigdha,
    Worry is a common problem for everyone, not just you :) The book is indeed very helpful to overcome worry.

  • http://pearlacademy.com vaishali shadangule

    This book is very inspiring and encouraging. It can really help an individual in difficult circumstances and definitely this gives a certain way of living life. I also believe in the idea of positivism and it has helped me in solving some problems and to achieving few things. Whatever happens in our life we judge it by your past experience but we forget that life is not always the same. Even if the situation and event looks same you can change its experience by your attitude .depression is not an emotion, it’s a thought and if one can control his thought he can make his life easy. Controlling thoughts is not new to us because Indian culture has lot of methods and ways on this idea. Controlling mind is considered a first step on the path of spiritualism. Actually everything depends on your point of observation, from where you seeing the life if your point is correct then you will have a clear vision otherwise you will miss out the detail. And exactly on this point I want to contradict it. I think every individual has different parameters of defining life. Everybody has a different social structure, family, culture, religion and upbringing. So whenever they come across with a problem their references of solution come in those constrains and I don’t know naturally how much an individual learns from others experience. I think most of people learn from their own experience because they have their journey of learning’s. I would like to conclude it by saying “maano to moti nahi to boond”.
    thanks, vaishali shadangule

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