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How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

Can this book help you achieve peace and happiness? Probably not — but it can improve your outlook.

This month’s selection for the book club is a classic. Many of you have read, enjoyed, and benefitted from Dale Carnegie’s 1936 masterpiece How to Win Friends and Influence People. For anyone who thrives on building relationships or merely wants to improve their daily interaction with other humans, it is a must read. However, most are unaware of his follow-up volume penned 12 years later in 1948. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is equally as impactful and has had a more life-changing effect for many.

Let me begin by saying that books like this one absolutely stand the test of time. Opinions and attitudes can change dramatically through the years, but core principles, like those found in these pages, are timeless. Let me also suggest you read this book with a highlighter in hand. Make a mess, write in the margins, underline important elements, and really devour this text. It will have an incredible effect on your future.

The book is divided onto eight parts with the first seven describing individual principles and examples of how to deal with worry in just about every situation. The final part is 31 stories from individuals who have applied the principles either by intent, self-discovery, or accident. Because a narrative is much more effective in driving a point home and cementing it into our memory, these stories are invaluable.

Each of the first seven parts focuses on a particular aspect of worry, beginning with fundamental elements that you should know about the subject. These are simple facts, like the vast majority of what we worry about never comes to pass or limiting our worries to those things that will occur today. Next are ways to analyze your worry in order to address the challenges in a more proactive and positive manner. Then, an entire series of points on how to break the habit of worrying so you can free up your energy and resources to tackle real problems and projects that will lead to long-term success.

Part four was my favorite and, in my opinion, the most critical. Here, we are given seven ways to cultivate a mental attitude that will bring peace and happiness. Oh, that it were that easy. Peace and happiness, the goal of every person who has ever lived. And yet are there any concepts more elusive? Mankind has spent the millennia in search of these two elements. Millions of words have been written on these subjects and philosophers, scientists, and anthropologists have filled volumes with their thoughts and research meant to advise us on the topic. Is this treatise the most complete or most revealing? I won’t make that claim, but it sure gets the mental and emotional gears spinning in the right direction.

The rest of the book is filled with insight. There are so many individual examples and anecdotes clearly described in the table of contents that you can use this as a reference book when you need to seek out advice on a particular situation or problem. Many of the examples are only a page or two long, making it a perfect source for daily motivation or possibly a thought or two to sleep on after a long day.

Other Selections from the Business Book Club: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Although the book was obviously written to enhance the personal lives of those who read it, the applications in business are self-evident. Imagine a day where worry did not waste your energy. Unnecessary concerns did not clutter your mind, and you were free to apply all of your talents, skills, and resources to the challenges that would really make a difference in your company’s success. And what if you were able to mentor your team and give them the ability to wipe the obstruction of worry from their daily efforts? The possibilities are a joy to contemplate.

I will leave you with a quote from Mr. Carnegie’s preface, “Please read Part One and Two of this book — and if by that time you don’t feel you have acquired a new power and a new inspiration to stop worry and enjoy life — then toss this book away. It is no good for you.”

Dave Donald is worldwide ambassador for Origin Acoustics.