In the early days, Dale Carnegie (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) made his living by teaching adult classes in night schools in New York. He realized that one of the biggest problems of these adults was worry. He wrote his book by reading what the philosophers of all ages have said about worry. He also read hundreds of biographies, all the way from Confucius to Churchill. According to him, we won’t find anything new in his book, but we will find much that is not generally being applied in our daily life.
Carnegie wrote his book into eight parts. Let us go through all them and for purpose of this article, I will share one story each taken from each Part.
PART I: Fundamental facts you should know about worry
For this story, it was given the sub-title as “Live in a day-tight compartment”. Just live each day until bedtime.
It was about a housewife in Michigan who had lost her husband due to illness. She was very depressed and was almost penniless. She then wrote to her former employer and got her job back by selling World Books to rural and town school boards. She thought that by getting back on the road would help relieve her depression; but driving alone and eating alone was almost more that she could take. She found out that the schools were poor and the roads were bad. It seemed that success was impossible.
Then one day she read an article that lifted her spirit as well as giving her the courage to go on living. There was an inspiring sentence which said: “Every day is a new life to a wise man”. She typed it out and pasted it on her car’s windscreen where she could see it every minute while driving. Since then, she said to herself, “Today is a new life”.
She had succeeded in overcoming her fear of loneliness, and her fear of want. She was happy and fairly successful then and had a lot of enthusiasm and love for life. She knew then that she could live one day at a time.
PART II: Basic Techniques in Analyzing Worry
This was about an insurance man. When he first started selling insurance, he was filled with a boundless enthusiasm and love for his work. Then something happened. He became so discouraged that he despised his work and thought of giving it up. Then on one Saturday morning, he sat down and tried to get at the root of his worries. He began asking himself following questions:
- What was the problem?
He was not getting high enough returns for the staggering amount of telephone calls that he made.
- What was the cause of the problem?
He did pretty well at selling a prospect, until the moment came for closing a sale. Then the customer would say, “Well, I’ll think it over, Mister. Come and see me again”. The time wasted on these follow-up calls that were causing his depression.
- What were all possible solutions?
He checked his record book for the last twelve months and studied the figures carefully. He made an astounding discovery! He discovered that 70% of his sales had been closed at the very first interview! Another 23% of his sales had been closed on the second interview. And another 7% had been closed on those third, fourth, fifth, etc., interviews. He came to the conclusion that he was wasting fully one half of his working day on a part of his business which was responsible for only seven per cent of his sales!
- What was the best solution?
He made a quick decision that he would immediately cut all visits beyond the second interview, and spent the extra time building up new prospects.
PART III: How to Break the Worry Habit Before it Breaks You
This part of the book asked us to use the Law of Averages to outlaw our worries.
During one summer, a couple went for a camping trip in Touquin Valley of the Canadian Rockies, about seven thousand feet above sea level. One night, a storm threatened to tear their tent to shreds. The outer tent shook and trembled and screamed and shrieked in the wind. The wife was terrified, and expecting every minute to see their tent torn loose and hurled through the sky.
However, her husband kept saying: “Look, my dear, we are traveling with Brewsters’ guides. They know what they are doing. They have been pitching tents in these mountains for sixty years. This tent has been here for many seasons. It hasn’t blown down yet and, by the law of averages, it won’t blow away tonight; and even it does, we can take shelter in another tent. So relax …..” The wife did; and she slept soundly the balance of the night.
We should ask ourselves: “What are the chances, according to the law of averages, that a particular event we are worrying about will ever happen?”
PART IV: Ways to Cultivate a Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace and Happiness
We need to understand this important Rule: Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let expect it.
A businessman in Texas felt bitter for his thirty-four employees did not say “Thank You” to him after receiving a bonus of about $300 each for Christmas.
According to Carnegie, instead of wallowing in resentment and self-pity, that man might have asked himself why he didn’t get any appreciation. Maybe he underpaid and overworked his employees. Maybe they considered a Christmas bonus not a gift, but something they had earned. Maybe he was so critical and unapproachable that no one dared or cared to thank him. Maybe they felt that he gave the bonus because most of the profits were going for taxes, anyway.
On the other hand, maybe the employees were selfish, mean, and ill-mannered. May be this or may be that. According to Carnegie, this man made the human and distressing mistake of expecting gratitude. He just didn’t know human nature.
PART V: The Perfect Way to Conquer Worry
Carnegie wrote in his book that one day when his father returned from Maryville, where the banker had threatened to foreclose the mortgage, he stopped his horses on a bridge crossing a river, got off the wagon, and stood for a long time looking down at the water, debating with himself whether he should jump in and end it all.
Years later, Carnegie Sr. told him that the only reason he didn’t jump was because of his mother’s deep, abiding, and joyous belief that if we loved God and kept His commandments everything would come out all right. Mother was right. Everything did come out all right in the end. Father lived forty-two happy years longer, and died in 1941, at the age of eighty-nine.
PART VI: How to Keep From Worrying About Criticism
A national sensation in educational circles was created due to an event which occurred in 1929. Learned men and women from all Americas rushed to Chicago to witness the affair. A few years earlier, a young man by the name of Robert Hutchins had worked his way through Yale, acting as a waiter, a lumberjack, a tutor, and a clothesline salesman. Now, only eight years later, he was being inaugurated as president of the fourth richest university in America, the University of Chicago. He was only thirty years old. Incredible! Criticism came roaring down upon this “boy wonder” like a rockslide. Even the newspapers joined in the attack.
The day he was inaugurated, a friend said to the father of Robert Maynard Hutchins, “I was shocked this morning to read that newspaper editorial denouncing your son”.
“Yes,” the elder Hutchins replied, “it was severe, but we need to remember that no one ever kicks a dead dog”.
Yes, and the more important a dog is, the more satisfaction people get in kicking him or her.
Carnegie added that when you are kicked or criticised, remember that it is often done because it gives the kicker a feeling of importance. It often means that you are accomplishing something and are worthy of attention. Many people get a sense of savage satisfaction out of denouncing those who are better educated than they are or more successful.
PART VII: 6 Ways to Prevent Fatigue and Worry and Keep Your Energy and Spirits High
Dale Carnegie listed down the following six ways in his book:
Rest before you get tired; Learn to relax at your work; Learn to relax at home; Apply good working habits (clear your desk of all papers except those relating to the immediate problem at hand; do things in the order of their importance; when you face a problem, solve it then and there if you have the facts necessary to make a decision; and learn to organize, deputize, and supervise); To prevent worry and fatigue, put enthusiasm into your work; and Remember that no one was ever killed by lack of sleep. It is worrying about insomnia that does the damage – not the insomnia itself. If you can’t sleep, get up and work or read until you do feel sleepy.
PART VIII: “How I Conquered Worry”
In this last part of the book, Carnegie wrote down 31 true stories. In this review, I would choose one story, entitled “I Lived in the Garden of Allah”. It was about an English gentleman from a rich family in Britain. After leaving the British Army in the early of 20th Century, he went to northwest Africa and lived with the Arabs in the Sahara, the Garden of Allah.
He lived there for seven (7) years, learned to speak the language of the nomads, wore their clothes, ate their food and adopted their way of life, which has changed very little during the last several centuries. He also made a detailed study of the religion, Islam, and in fact he later wrote a book about Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, entitled “The Messenger”.
He observed that the nomads take life so calmly and never hurry or get into unnecessary tempers when things go wrong. They know that what is ordained is ordained; and no one but Allah can alter anything. However, that doesn’t mean that in the face of disaster, they sit down and do nothing. This is illustrated as below.
One day there was a fierce, burning windstorm of the sirocco in the Sahara. It howled and screamed for three days and nights. It was so strong, so fierce, that it blew sand from the Sahara hundreds of miles across the Mediterranean and sprinkled it over the Rhone Valley in France. But the Arabs didn’t complain. They shrugged their shoulders and said, “Mektoub!” which means “It was written”.
But immediately after the storm was over, they sprang into action, they slaughtered all the lambs because they knew they would die anyway. After the lambs were slaughtered, the flocks were driven southward to water. This was all done calmly, without worry or complaining or mourning over their losses. The tribal chief said: “It was not too bad. We might have lost everything. But praise to Allah, we have forty percent of our sheep left to make a new start”.
Several years after leaving the Sahara – he still maintain that happy resignation to the inevitable which he had learned from the Arabs. That philosophy has done more to settle his nerves than a thousand sedatives could have achieved.
In our day-to-day life, in fighting worry, I believe in the principle of “Worry less about what others think, say and do”.
Worry less about what others think, say and do