Dale Carnegie rocks! Oh yeah! This, I have know for a long time.
He has been one of my mentors now for so many years not only because of his amazing books on public speaking and influence but because of his direct, no nonsense approach. His style has always really appealed to me, he put audiences at ease and spoke to them as if they were sitting having breakfast with him in his kitchen!
One of his books that has taught me so much over time is ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, which he wrote in 1948. So much unnecessary waste of energy and illness is caused by worry, don’t you think? Now, I’m positive you have either had an experience of this yourself or know someone who has, you might even call yourself a ‘born worrier.’ For some people, it is such a common state to be in BUT, that doesn’t have to be your reality, you can get a grip on that at any time!
Carnegie gives lots of quotes in the book from many different sources, like Montaigne’s, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.” Oh yes, can you relate to this? Sometimes I used to get so worried about a group I was going to speak to or a class I was going to teach that I would have these crazy vivid dreams the night before (when I was trying to rest my body in preparation for it!) where I’d be standing in front of them and couldn’t speak or, telling them something and no-one understood me! I’m sure you’ve been there with something similar. And of course, all that spent worrying energy amounted to absolutely diddly squat! Did the roof fall down? No! Did they throw rotten tomatoes at me? Mr Carnegie encourages “living in day tight compartments, living in the moment and not worrying about ‘what ifs’ that tomorrow may hold. Great advice!
Another quote Dale gives in the book focuses on the importance of acceptance. He quotes professor William James who said, “be willing to have it so.” What does he mean by this? There is no point in trying to change the past, as much as you wish things had been different, because, stop press, there is nothing you can do to change it! Past is past.
But if we CAN do something to change a situation, what should we do? Dale gives 4 cool steps for positive action:
1. Write down precisely what you are worried about. 2. Write down what you can do about it. 3. Decide what to do. 4. Start immediately to carry out that decision. These 4 are all about action, you’re doing something to change the situation or in the very least, setting wheels in motion. And if you can’t do anything to change a situation, why worry? If you can, then do it, as soon as possible! Simple and typical of Dale’s no nonsense approach.
Not surprisingly, Dale devotes a lot of the book to the benefits of relaxation and rest to reduce worry. It makes perfect sense! Real rest, if it isn’t sleep, needs to be in the form of complete distraction away from your worry, like meditation. He says, “most of our fatigue derives itself from our emotional and mental attitudes.” How often have you felt totally exhausted at the end of the day due to stress, anxiety, boredom or other negative states of mind? If this is happening to you more often than not, maybe you should think about a couple of these tips from the book,
1. Be aware of when you feel tense during the day and relax your body, especially where you feel the tension. (Feeling it in your stomach? Take a good few deep breaths.)
2. Get busy! Don’t give yourself time to be miserable, do something productive and focus on it.
Dale, I salute you! You gave classic answers and timeless remedies to age old problems and surprise surprise, they work. Solutions don’t need to be complicated!