How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: Summary & Review

how to stop worrying and start living book

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is a self-help book that shares readers’ tools, techniques, and mindsets to help readers enjoy a more fulfilling and carefree life.

Bullet Summary

  • Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen and be OK with it.
  • Then work to improve on that worst-case scenario
  • Act more, worry less

How to Stop Worrying Summary

About The Author: Dale Carnegie writes this book because, he says, he was a worrier himself and a deeply unhappy man.
However, he managed to teach himself the way to a more carefree, happier, and more fulfilling life. And he teaches techniques in “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.
Carnegie is also the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People“.

Into: Why You Must Stop Worrying

Dale Carnegie says that worrying too much will make your life shorter and more miserable.
Thankfully, there are ways to deal with and eliminate worries. Many people have done it, and you can as well.

1. Fundamental facts you should know about worry

Dale Carnegie quotes William Osler to make this simple point:

To care less about worries, start caring more about your present tasks and goals

Because most people worry about the future, the best way to have a good future is to do a good job now.
So make your life more compartmentalized and deal with every single compartment one by one.

Carnegie recommends readers associate lots of pain with worrying ways that changing becomes a must.
This is an NLP technique that Tony Robbins discusses at length.

More techniques Carnegie recommends:

  1. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can possibly happen if you cannot solve the problem that makes you so worried.
  2. Accept mentally the worst-case scenario and be OK with it
  3. Work to improve the worst-case scenario: you can only get better from there

2. Basic techniques for analyzing worry

  1. First of all, get all the facts.
  2. Once you have all the information you need, make a decision.
  3. Once you have a decision, it’s time to act on it.

No worries, no sweating, just action (read The Obstacle Is The Way for that mindset).

Dale Carnegie also talks about the top insurance salesman in the country. He wasn’t always at the top though and was struggling until he asked himself the following questions:

A Simple Set of Questions to Eliminate Worry

Frank Bettger, one of the top insurance salesmen in America, used these questions to reduce his worries and multiply his income.

Early in his career Bettger began to despise his work and felt discouraged. He was working too much and was burning out.
Frank was always either in meetings or calling out prospects and wasn’t having much success at all.
Then, one day, he wrote down and answered these questions:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are all the possible solutions?
  4. What is the best solution?

3. How to break the worry habit before it breaks you

  1. Stay busy: no free time, no time to worry (my note: don’t do this as Brene Brown explains)
  2. Don’t allow small things to get in your way
  3. Understand numbers: chances of catastrophic events are slim
  4. What you cannot change is not worth worrying about
  5. Put a stop-loss order in your life: after a certain threshold, you move and that’s it
  6. Stop worrying about the past. It’s useless

4. A mental attitude of peace and happiness

  1. Think and act joyfully and you’ll be joyful
  2. Thinking about what we don’t like is poisonous: don’t waste a minute with people you don’t like
  3. Don’t expect gratitude and you will not be disappointed by the lack of it
  4. Focus and count your blessings, not your troubles
  5. Be yourself and don’t try to copy others
  6. Do your best with your losses. Profit from them. When life gives you lemons, make a lemonade
  7. Help others to help yourself

5. The perfect way to conquer worry

Dale Carnegie suggests that believing in a greater being, in God, and praying, is a great antidote for worry.

6. How to keep from worrying about criticism

  1. Unfair criticism is often a compliment: it means you have raised envy
  2. Grow a thicker skin: you’ll be criticized anyway. Your job is to do your best, not to avoid criticism
  3. Criticize yourself first and then ask for more criticism: it’s the best way to grow

7. How to prevent fatigue and worry and keep energy and spirits high

Rest is important, says Carnegie.

Churchill took two naps a day during WWII. Make sure you get enough rest as well.

At work, clear your desk of all papers, because the mess around you translates into mental mess and stress.
Then prioritize and execute (a mantra of Extreme Ownership).

how to stop worrying and start living book


  • Map Without Compass

All the tips make sense, but they’re also common sense.
What would have been more useful is all the nitty-gritty of how to actually do it. I believe guys like Tony Robbins do a better job at that.

  • Too Busy To Worry… Really?

The suggestion to get too busy to worry is not only scientifically unfounded but counterproductive. It doesn’t address the root cause.

It’s like telling the hangover patient to keep drinking and the headache will go away. Better drinking water instead.
The hangover will take more time to heal, but it addresses the root causes.

How to Stop Worrying Review

“How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” is one of the grandfathers of the self-help books.

It has sold 6 million copies, and if Nassim Taleb is right when he says the longer something remains successful, the better it is, then you can’t go wrong with this old classic.

The content is indeed top-notch, and most of it is evergreen -as Ray Dalio said, great is better than new-.

However, don’t miss out on new contemporary authors because neuroscience has developed a lot since Carnegie and can teach us a lot.
For example:

Stop Worrying
& Get the book on Amazon

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