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


Initially published in 1948, I must admit that I was a little sceptical on the applicability and content of this book. However, after finishing it, I have realised why this has remained such a classic for so long and definitely deserves a place on my ever-growing bookshelf.

Book summaries are based on my own opinion and the content which I felt personally applicable and useful for me. It might differ a little for everyone so I do advise getting your hands on the book itself as you might uncover other hidden nuggets of wisdom which might be beneficial for yourself.

Key takeaways:

  1. Good thinking deals with causes and effects, which leads to logical, constructive planning. Whereas, bad thinking frequently leads to tensions and nervous breakdowns.
  2. When worrying about a problem: Ask yourself the following: What is the worst that can possibly happen? Prepare to accept the worst-case scenario if you have to. Then calmly proceed to improve on the worst outcome which you have already mentally agreed to accept.
  3. “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.” Tips to assist in arriving at a decision include: Gathering facts, analysing, understanding facts and ultimately arriving at a decision and acting on that decision.
  4. Writing down your troubles helps much in clarifying them. Write the following about your problems:  What am I worried about? What can I do about it? Deciding what to do and starting immediately to carry out that decision.
  5. Problem-solving: What is the problem? What is the cause of the problem? What are ALL the possible solutions to the problem? Pick the best solution out of all possible solutions.
  6. Keep busy. Although in this day of the hustle and bustle, “The worried person must lose him/herself in action lest be wither in despair.” AKA: Keep yourself occupied by doing something productive or beneficial for your growth.
  7. “Life is too short to belittle and to be upset by trivial things we should forget about.” Do the issues occurring now affect or matter to you in the next 5 minutes, days, months, years, and so on?
  8. Let’s ask ourselves: “What are the chances, according to the law of averages, that this event I am worrying about will ever occur?” Where the law of averages = the supposed principle that future events are likely to turn out so that they balance any past deviation from a presumed average.
  9. If something is inevitable, unavoidable or out of your control, forget the worry and accept the outcome. E.g., Death
  10. So why waste the tears? Of course, we have all been guilty of blunders and absurdities. So what? Who has not? AKA: What has happened, happened. You can’t change the past, but you can change your future.
  11. Our mental attitude is the factor that determines our fate. “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
  12. Eight words that can determine your destiny: “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” When faced with difficulties, assume a positive attitude instead of a negative one.
  13. Concern VS Worry: Concern = Realising what the problems are and calmly taking steps to meet them. Worry = Going around in futile circles.
  14. “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”
  15. When we try to seek revenge to get even with our enemies, we will hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them. Never waste a minute thinking about people we don’t like.
  16. “An angry man is always full of poison.”
  17. Gratitude is a cultivated trait and must be trained. The way of happiness is to not expect gratitude but to help or give for the joy of it.
  18. “All the days of our years we have been living in a fairyland of beauty, but we have been too blind to see, too satiated to enjoy.” AKA: Count your blessings and not your troubles.
  19. Find yourself and be yourself, there is no-one else on earth like you. Avoid misery on yourself by avoiding fitting a pattern which you don’t conform to.
  20. Instead of indulging in self-pity, learn from your mistakes or misfortunes. Train your mind to think of turning a minus into a plus.
  21. Forget yourself by becoming interested in others. Do every day a good deed that will put joy on someone’s face.
  22. “When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.”
  23. Very often, when you are being criticised unreasonably, it is because it gives the other party a feeling of importance. It usually means that others are jealous that you are accomplishing something worthy of their attention to belittle you.
  24. Many people get a sense of satisfaction for denouncing those who are better or more successful than them.
  25.  To improve continuously, since we can’t hope to be perfect, learn to ask for honest, helpful and constructive criticism.
  26. Fatigue often produces worry, to prevent fatigue and worry: rest often and rest before you get tired. AKA: “Resting is the most underrated life hack.”
  27. Emotional exertion usually has far more to do with producing worry, frustration and resentment, compared to physical exertion.
  28. If you enjoy what you are doing, you may work long hours, but it won’t seem like work at all. It will look like play.
  29. “A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.”
  30. Stay out of work or activities where the chances are only one out of ten of being able to make a living.
  31. Ask individuals or friends working in the industry you are interested in joining to obtain further information before deciding to devote your life to it.
  32. Problems which leads to financial worries:
  • Lack of tracking and keeping tabs on your expenses
  • No budget set in place or living out of your budget
  • Not spending money wisely
  • Lifestyle inflation (In the long run, would you choose to live within a tight budget and having unnecessary debts?)
  • No insurance or protection against illness, emergencies etc…
  • No responsibility for money (Not managing your personal finances)
  • No passive or alternate sources of income
  • Gambling (Why bother playing when the odds, machines and games are already created or rigged against the player)

Grab the book: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie

Phew! What an exhaustive list, I hope you found this useful as much as I did. Now on the next book and I’m open to recommendations for more books, do drop me a list or message if anyone has any exciting books on their read-list to share.

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