Thursday, May 7, 2015

Learning from Dale Carnegie

    I've started reading Dale Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" and even with only being 40 pages in, I'm deeply impressed. This is stuff that I needed a reminder about right now. I've struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life- sometimes it's just lurking in the background and I'm able to ignore it enough to enjoy life, and other times it seems to almost consume me, robbing me of sleep, peace of mind, and the ability to make decisions or live my life.

     I love the solutions Carnegie proposes and think they're worth sharing (in condensed form) here.
1. Analyze the situation [that's causing you to worry] fearlessly and honestly. Figure out what the worst-case scenario is- what is the worst thing that could possibly happen because of the situation?
2. Reconcile yourself to accepting the worst-case scenario if it were to happen.
3. Calmly put your time and energy into trying to improve upon the worst-case scenario that you've already accepted in your mind.
     I think this is basically the same as "expect the worst, hope for the best." If we can take ourselves down the path to the darkest outcome possible and come to terms with that, then work to make sure that particular outcome never comes to fruition, we're able to more fully enjoy whatever the outcome does end up being. And even if the worst is the outcome, we've already come to terms with it and won't be blindsided by it.

     The next part that really grabbed my attention was this quote by Andre Maurois, "Everything that is in agreement with our personal desires seems true. Everything that is not puts us into a rage."
You could also substitute the words "funk, depression, bad mood" in place of rage and it would still be true. A lot of our disappointments, worry, and unhappiness in life come from not being able to step outside of our own desires and the way we think things "should" be. The problem with this is that if we can't open ourselves to answers that may not be in line with our desires, we may be missing the very things that we need to solve our problems!
     As Carnegie puts it, "Is it any wonder, then, that we find it so hard to get at the answers to our problems? Wouldn't we have the same trouble trying to solve a second-grade arithmetic problem, if we went ahead on the assumption that two plus two equals five? Yet there are a lot of people in this world who make life hell for themselves and others by insisting that two plus two equals five - or maybe five hundred!"
     When we can acknowledge that our reality isn't the only possible reality in this world, and start honestly searching for new ways to look at or think about things, that's when we're most likely to experience growth and find solutions to those things that cause us the most grief.

     I'm looking forward to gaining more insight from Mr. Carnegie's study of worry and the wisdom he's gleaned from many smart and successful people. I may never be fully rid of anxiety, but when I open myself up to knowledge from new sources, I almost always find something that can help...and that's certainly been the case with this book!

1 comment:

Stephanie Turner said...

You're the smartest person I know!

I like his suggestion to accept the worse-case scenario.... You made that suggestion to me a long, long time ago...way before you ever read this book. ;)