We all worry. Sometimes a little worry can be good. It makes you aware of a situation that you many need to address, or change your course. However, a lot of worry is bad, both from a mental and physical health standpoint. Worrying too much can affect your physical health, causing high blood pressure, ulcers, heart attacks, and even death.
Recently, I found that I was falling victim to worrying too much and wanted to do something about it. I picked up Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying & Start Living.” This book was originally written in 1944, but, as with all of his books, it could have easily been written today. All of his principles and examples are timeless. The book is packed with thought provoking principles and techniques for identifying and coping with stress and worry.
Carnegie says this book is not a “reading book,” but written to be a guidebook or textbook. As I read it, I did a lot of highlighting and folding the corners of pages. After finishing, whenever I feel myself worrying, I pick it up and start reading. Sometimes a quote or story has the power to ease my worry and fears, and put the cause of my worry in perspective. “We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon- instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
There are too may excerpts from the book to include in this blog, but I want to share a few things that stick out for me.
He writes the Mayo Clinic performed a study of 176 business executives with an average age of 44.3 years, and reported “slightly more than a third of these executives suffered from one of three ailments particular to high tension living.” “What shall it profit a man and gains the whole world- and loses his health.”
He tells about a business owner that had fell on hard times; he endorsed a loan for a friend and the friend went bankrupt, his bank collapsed and he lost every cent. Not only was he broke, but he was now in tremendous debt.
As a result of his worry and stress, he collapsed one day walking down the street and was now bedridden. He grew weaker with every passing day, and his doctors finally told him that he has a couple weeks to live. As he laid there to await his end, he realized that there was no use to continue to struggle and worry. He gave up, relaxed, and went to sleep. He had not slept two hours in succession for weeks.
When he woke up the next morning, he was surprised to find that he was still alive. Then something miraculous happened. His weariness began to disappear; his appetite returned and gained some weight. A few weeks later he was able to walk again, and six weeks later he was able to get back to work. “No more worry for me- no regret about what happened in the past- no more dread of the future.”
K.T. Keller, then President of the Chrysler Corporation was asked how he kept from worrying too much. He said, “I never worry about the future, because I know no man living can possibly figure out what is going to happen in the future. There are so many forces that will affect that future!”
Just as I finished reading the book for the first time, I get a call from the CFO of a client to tell me the sad news that the 47-year-old president of their company has suddenly passed away from a heart attack. He believed it was brought on by stress.
Don’t live your life always worrying and let it get the best of you. Know that what worries you is not unique and that other people have faced similar circumstances and have been able to overcome and conquer. This book has personally helped me and I can go as far as say it has saved my life.
The good news is, according to Dale Carnegie, “ninety-nine percent of the things I worried about never happened.”
Written by: Brad Snitzer, Vice President of Cornerstone Insurance Group