“Those who do not learn to fight worry die young”
– Dr Alexis Carrel said
Last night I was asked to give a quick, 10 minute talk on worry, more specifically, how to stop worrying.
Far too many of us live in a constant state of fear, worry, stress and anxiety.
Now, when I was first asked, I knew exactly what the crowd needed… They needed to get off their butts, head to the bookstore and grab a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book How To Stop Worrying and Start Living.
That book is a classic that’s as true today as it was 50 years ago. In fact, it’s probably even truer today than ever. So do yourself a favor and go get a copy!
Of course, it wouldn’t have been much of a talk had I asked them to just go buy the book, so then I thought “I’ll just read it to them!” 😉 But nah, that would be a pretty long story.
I settled on a short summary, put into my words.
Let’s dive in…
One of the most tragic things I hear about is that people put off living. They spend all their days striving for tomorrow or worrying about the past. And I know I’ve been very guilty of that myself – and I think most forward thinking, goal crushing people suffer from this to some degree. We’re striving for tomorrow, we’re going places, we have goals and dreams, we won’t settle for how things are, we’re in a constant state of improvement and looking to raise our own standards. And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. But like the old adage says, you need to enjoy the journey.
Far too many people, especially goal setting, forward thinking achievers, live for the goal, the future, and forget the PRESENT. Or, to be present.
We’re human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. It’s essential to BE.
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened” – French Philosopher, Montaigne
Most of us have always known, at our core, that stress and worry will kill you. In fact, id bet it’s a globally accepted truth that stress WILL kill you. Whether you accept that as truth or not is irrelevant… the beauty of nature’s laws is they apply (and work) whether you agree or not. Go ahead, try and tell yourself gravity doesn’t exist 😉
There are countless documented studies that link stress and worry to a wide arrange of issues from heart attacks to stomach ulcers to back problems. The list of medical maladies that come from stress are incredible.
But one example that like, because it’s often overlooked, is arthritis.
Dr Russell L Cecil, world renowned authority on arthritis, has said that the top 4 most common causes that bring on arthritis are:
1 – Marital Shipwreck
2 – Financial Disaster
3 – Loneliness, Stress and Worry
4 – Long Lasting Resentment
If you take the time to look over your own life, or the life of those around you, you might find this to be quite the powerful awakening.
In my world, and this is only my view point, but stress and worry is as dangerous, if not more so, than smoking. Cases where you hear of that fitness fanatic that was insanely strict about their diet, ran marathons, worked out twice a day, you name it, they did it, but they lived in a constant state of stress and one day, while seemingly healthy by all standards, gets a heart attack.
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” – Thomas Carlyle
It’s important to live in day-tight compartments. Have no anxiety for tomorrow or yesterday. Focus on now, on right here, on the present. But don’t just focus on the present, but BE present.
Now, here are a few things you can do, pulled from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Of course, don’t do like most and “know it” intellectually, yet not do anything about it. IF you’re not applying it you don’t know it. Knowledge, i.e. knowing it, won’t give you power. Application of that knowledge gives you power.
1 – Close the doors of the past and the future in live for today.
I’ve gone over this one throughout this talk, but focus on today, and live for today. Yes, continue to strive for improvement, for your future goals, for where you’re going, but enjoy the journey.
2 – In any situation, think, then write down what’s the worst that could happen.
I’ve found it to be overwhelmingly relaxing to acknowledge what the absolute worst case scenario is in light of an obstacle. Simply saying to yourself “okay, worst case THIS happens” really helps realize that you CAN handle it.
3 – Think solutions not problems.
It’s really easy, especially when stressed and pressed with a problem, to focus on the problem and nothing but the problem. But the truth is, once the problem is defined, you need to spend your time focusing on SOLUTIONS.
4 – Be too busy to worry.
Certainly this can be a double edged sword, but focus on being busy when you’re feeling stressed. We all do this to some degree, like the spouse who goes to the office to work after having it out with their significant other, or the student that goes for a drive blasting music after receiving a bad grade, or the employee that dives into stocking the shelves after a grumpy customer tears them a new one. We all have our version of escape. But let me warn you, some spend too much time escaping from reality and they forget to come back. Ideally, your escape should be productive, and for a set amount of time when, once the time has run out, you agree to come back to real life.
5 – Count your blessings not your problems, Be grateful and make others happy.
One of the absolute best ways to overcome stress and worry is to help others. If you’re stressing about finances, go spend some time helping the homeless. If you’re stressing about personal relationships, go visit an senior’s residence, if you feel like no one loves you, go feed a few families in need. The list is endless. When you’re feeling down, focus on others, they’ll bring you back up.
It’s nearly impossible to be stressed and worried when you’re putting all your attention into others.
“You can have anything you want in this world if you help enough others get what they want” – Zig Ziglar
One last story…
Life is like an hourglass. We all have a thousand little grains of sand that need to get done, things that need to happen and get accomplished, but no matter how hard we try, we need to let things happen one grain at a time.
Trying to rush this is impossible without putting at risk the actual physical integrity of the hourglass. You are that hourglass, and everything in life is the grains of sand. Set goals, have a vision for the future, dreams and aspirations, but always remember: One grain at a time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this talk and we’re able to pull some value out of it.
To your success,