“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” –Michel de Montaigne
90% of the things we worry about usually do not happen, but we worry and fret anyway. Most things in life are transient. Cherish the good times, for they would not last forever, and do not sweat the tough times as they also won’t last forever. No one has a problem-free life, murphy’s law is always around the corner, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Author Dale Carnegie shares some great insight on managing worry, dealing with the vicissitudes of life, and living a life filled with joy and happiness.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Here are my favourite take-aways from reading, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie.
“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will‘. – Epictetus
If you want to avoid worry, do what Sir William Osier did: Live in “day-tight compartments. Don’t stew about the future. Just live each day until bedtime.
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” – Thomas Carlyle
Live in day-tight compartments
The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter. Shut off the future as tightly as the past. The future is today. There is no tomorrow. The day of man’s salvation is now. Waste of energy, mental distress, nervous worries dog the steps of a man who is anxious about the future. Shut close, then the great fore and aft bulkheads, and prepare to cultivate the habit of life of ‘day-tight compartments.
Whether in war or peace, the chief difference between good thinking and bad thinking is this: good thinking deals with causes and effects and leads to logical, constructive planning; bad thinking frequently leads to tension and nervous breakdowns.
How strange it is, our little procession of life wrote Stephen Leacock.
The child says: ‘When I am a big boy.’ But what is that? The big boy says: ‘When I grow up.’ And then, grown up, he says: ‘When I get married.’ But to be married, what is that after all? The thought changes to ‘When I’m able to retire.” And then, when retirement comes, he looks back over the landscape traversed; a cold wind seems to sweep over it; somehow he has missed it all, and it is gone. Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour.”
One of the worst features about worrying is that it destroys our ability to concentrate. When we worry, our minds jump here and there and everywhere, and we lose all power of decision. However, when we force ourselves to face the worst and accept it mentally, we then eliminate all those vague imaginings and put ourselves in a position in which we are able to concentrate on our problem.
Willis H. Carrier’s magic formula:
Rule 2 is: If you have a worry problem, apply the magic formula of Willis H. Carrier by doing these three things:
1. Ask yourself, What is the worst that can possibly happen?
2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
3. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst.
Health Implications of Worry
Fear causes worry. Worry makes you tense and nervous and affects the nerves of your stomach and actually changes the gastric juices of your stomach from normal to abnormal and often leads to stomach ulcers.
“You do not get stomach ulcers from what you eat. You get ulcers from what is eating you.” – Dr. Joseph F. Montague
The famous Mayo brothers declared that more than half of our hospital beds are occupied by people with nervous troubles. Yet, when the nerves of these people are studied under a high-powered microscope in a post-mortem examination, their nerves in most cases are apparently as healthy as the nerves of Jack Dempsey. Their “nervous troubles” are caused not by a physical deterioration of the nerves, but by emotions of futility, frustration, anxiety, worry, fear, defeat, despair.
The greatest mistake physicians make is that they attempt to cure the body without attempting to cure the mind; yet the mind and body are one and should not be treated separately! -Plato
Number 1 Killer
Few things can age and sour a woman and destroy her looks as quickly as worry. Worry curdles the expression. It makes us clench our jaws and lines our faces with wrinkles. It forms a permanent scowl. It may turn the hair grey, and in some cases, even make it fall out. It can ruin the complexion it can bring on all kinds of skin rashes, eruptions, and pimples.
The three basic steps of problem analysis.
1. Get the facts.
“Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision.”
If a man will devote his time to securing facts in an impartial, objective way, his worries will usually evaporate in the light of knowledge. If we bother with facts at all and Thomas Edison said in all seriousness: “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the labor of thinking” if we bother with facts at all, we hunt like bird dogs after the facts that bolster up what we already think and ignore all the others! We want only the facts that justify our acts the facts that fit in conveniently with our wishful thinking and justify our preconceived prejudices!
“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the labor of thinking” – Thomas Edison
2. Analyze the facts.
let’s not even attempt to solve our problems without first collecting all the facts in an impartial manner. – Dean Hawkes
Write out your Worries
“I have found from costly experience that it is much easier to analyze the facts after writing them down. In fact, merely writing the facts on a piece of paper and stating our problem clearly goes a long way toward helping us to reach a sensible decision. As Charles Kettering puts it: “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
3. Arrive at a decision and then act on that decision.
“Experience has proved to me, time after time, the enormous value of arriving at a decision. It is the failure to arrive at a fixed purpose, the inability to stop going round and round in maddening circles that drives men to nervous breakdowns and living hells. I find that fifty percent of my worries vanishes once I arrive at a clear, definite decision; and another forty percent usually vanishes once I start to carry out that decision.”
You can banish about ninety percent of my worries by taking these four steps
1. Writing down precisely what I am worrying about.
2. Writing down what I can do about it.
3. Deciding what to do.
4. Starting immediately to carry out that decision.
Why does such a simple thing as keeping busy help to drive out anxiety? Because of a law-one of the most fundamental laws ever revealed by psychology. And that law is:
that it is utterly impossible for any human mind, no matter how brilliant, to think of more than one thing at any given time.
One kind of emotion drives out the other. And it was that simple discovery that enabled Army psychiatrists to perform such miracles during the war. When men came out of battle so shaken by the experience that they were called “psychoneurotic”, Army doctors prescribed “Keep ’em busy” as a cure.
Any psychiatrist will tell you that work—keeping busy, is one of the best anesthetics ever known for sick nerves.
James L. Mursell, professor of education, Teachers’ College, Columbia, puts it very well when he says:
“Worry is most apt to ride you ragged not when you are in action, but when the day’s work is done. Your imagination can run riot then and bring up all sorts of ridiculous possibilities and magnify each little blunder. At such a time, your mind is like a motor operating without its load. It races and threatens to burn out its bearings or even to tear itself to bits. The remedy for worry is to get completely occupied doing something constructive.”
“A certain comfortable security, a certain profound inner peace, a kind of happy numbness, soothes the nerves of the human-animal when absorbed in its allotted task.” – John Cowper Powys
If you and I don’t keep busy, if we sit around and brood, we will hatch out a whole flock of what Charles Darwin used to call the “wibber gibbers”. And the “wibber gibbers” are nothing but old-fashioned gremlins that will run us hollow and destroy our power of action and our power of will.
The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. So don’t bother to think about it! Spit on your hands and get busy. Your blood will start circulating; your mind will start ticking and pretty soon this whole positive upsurge of life in your body will drive worry from your mind. Get busy. Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is on this earth and one of the best. – George Bernard Shaw
Don’t Let the Beetles Get You Down
Judge Joseph Sabath of Chicago, after acting as arbiter in more than forty thousand unhappy marriages, declared: “Trivialities are at the bottom of most marital unhappiness”; and Frank S. Hogan, District Attorney of New York County, says:
“Fully half the cases in our criminal courts originate in little things. Bar-room bravado, domestic wrangling, an insulting remark, a disparaging word, a rude action, those are the little things that lead to assault and murder. Very few of us are cruelly and greatly wronged. It is the small blows to our self-esteem, the indignities, the little jolts to our vanity, which cause half the heartaches in the world.”
De minimis non curat lex—the law does not concern itself with trifles. – legal maxim
Radical Acceptance – Co-operate With the Inevitable
It is astonishing how quickly we can accept almost any situation if we have to and adjust ourselves to it and forget about it.
“It is so. It cannot be otherwise.” – Inscription on the Ruins of a 15th Century Cathedral in Amsterdam
“As you and I march across the decades of time, we are going to meet a lot of unpleasant situations that are so. They cannot be otherwise. We have our choice. We can either accept them as inevitable and adjust ourselves to them, or we can ruin our lives with rebellion and maybe end up with a nervous breakdown.”
“Be willing to have it so. Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequence of any misfortune.” – William James
We can all endure disaster and tragedy and triumph over them if we have to. We may not think we can, but we have surprisingly strong inner resources that will see us through if we will only make use of them. We are stronger than we think.
No one living has enough emotion and vigor to fight the inevitable and, at the same time, enough left over to create a new life. Choose one or the other. You can either bend with the inevitable sleet-storms of life, or you can resist them and break!
“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. – Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr
To avoid resentment and worry over ingratitude, here is Rule 3:
A. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let’s expect it. Let’s remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got
B. Let’s remember that the only way to find happiness is not to expect gratitude, but to give for the joy of giving.
C. Let’s remember that gratitude is a “cultivated” trait; so if we want our children to be grateful, we must train them to be grateful.
About ninety percent of the things in our lives are right and about ten percent are wrong. If we want to be happy, all we have to do is to concentrate on the ninety percent that are right and ignore the ten percent that are wrong. If we want to be worried and bitter and have stomach ulcers, all we have to do is to concentrate on the ten percent that are wrong and ignore the ninety percent that are glorious.
“We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack. Therefore, rather than grateful, we are bitter.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
As Emerson said in his essay on Self-reliance:
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”
That is the way Emerson said it. But here is the way a poet—the late Douglas Malloch said it:
- If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill. Be a scrub in the valley-but be the best little scrub by the side of the rill; be a bush, if you can’t be a tree.
- If you can’t be a bush, be a bit of the grass. And some highway happier make; if you can’t be a muskie, then just be a bass, but the liveliest bass in the lake!
- We can’t all be captains; we’ve got to be crew. There’s something for all of us here. There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do and the task we must do is the near.
- If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail, if you can’t be the sun, be a star; it isn’t by the size that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are!
“Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw the mud, the other saw stars.”
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.”
Swiss Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst Carl Jung said:
“About one-third of my patients are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives.” To put it another way, they are trying to thumb a ride through life and the parade passes them by. So they rush to a psychiatrist with their petty, senseless, useless lives. Having missed the boat, they stand on the wharf, blaming everyone except themselves and demanding that the world cater to their self-centered desires.”
“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding that limit.” – Elbert Hubbard
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.