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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

By Dale Carnegie
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  • Contains 12 key ideas
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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (1948) is a self-help classic that outlines clearly why worrying is bad for you and what you can do about it. With tools and techniques to put to action, as well as a wealth of examples and anecdotes to back up its recommendations, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living can help you worry less today.

Key idea 1 of 12

Confusion causes worry: get the facts about your worries and solve the problem.

How would you feel if someone told you on Sunday evening that, come Monday morning, you would be thrown into a torture chamber? Would you worry? Probably. But there would be a way to deal with those worries.

Confusion is the chief cause of worry, said Herbert E. Hawkes, Dean of Columbia College. According to him, few people bother analyzing the facts of their situation when they are worried.

He proposed that all kinds of worries can be resolved by applying a simple three-step analysis.

That is precisely what Galen Litchfield did in 1942 when, stuck in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, he got news that a Japanese admiral had found out about the assets he’d hidden from the Japanese. His punishment was to be thrown into the notorious torture chamber of the Japanese secret police on Monday. Litchfield heard the news on Sunday, and wondered what to do.

His solution was to follow these three steps:

First, get the facts about why you’re worried: Litchfield took a typewriter and wrote down what he was worried about – being tortured to death in the morning.

Second, analyze those facts: Litchfield wrote “What can I do about it?” and underneath listed his various options, like fleeing, explaining himself or acting like nothing happened.

Third, make a decision about what to do, and do it: Litchfield decided his only option was to go into work like nothing had happened.

Apparently, the Japanese admiral had calmed down, for he merely scowled at Litchfield.

As you can see, analyzing your worries carefully can even save your life sometimes.

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