Stop Worrying and Start Living

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RikD's picture
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Stop Worrying and Start Living

Shortly after World War II, Dale Carnegie produced a couple of books: "How To Win Friends And Influence People" and "How To Stop Worrying And Start Living".  These are two of my all time favorite books, and both have timeless advice.  I would like to share some of the key points of the former book to this forum.  Before doing so, I would like to thank Chris Martenson for the fine work he has put into the Crash Course material.

WWII was a pretty rough ordeal for a number of people - even those who prepared and did their best to stay out of harms way.  Needless to say, there were stories of people who experienced the worst that life could throw at them and lived to tell about it.  In the aftermath it was fresh in everyone's mind of just how bad it can get.  I think this set the back drop for Dale Carnegie's book.  He in fact used examples coming out of the conflict.  The main take-away I get from the book is there may come events or experiences in life that we have little control of, and at some level you simply have to accept that this is the way it is now.  Far from being a book of resignation and capitulation, it really encourages us to take the newly accepted and diminished situation and do our best to improve on it.

Without going over every point of the book, I would like to flesh out the process as it applies to the Crash Course material from Part one of the book. 

The next time Trouble--with a Capital T--backs you up in a corner, try the magic formula of Willis H. Carrier:

What is the worst that can possibly happen if I can't solve my problem?

Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst--if necessary.

Then calmly try to improve upon the worst--which you have already mentally agreed to accept.

(BTW, here is a link with the entire outline - )

What is the worst that could happen? No power, no water, no transportation, no food, and possible civil unrest.  So, I start scraping together some gold bars, freeze dried food, solar energy, a mountain bike, and a permaculture farm in the wilderness.  Over time, all of these things may very well succumb to various problems - probably sooner than anticipated.  I am just not convinced that the human nature at large will be that charitable with those that took the trouble to prepare.

Okay, so that is the worst?  Well, alright there is death to consider, but I don't want to get too negative here.  Let's just say it's likely that the worst would not happen exactly the way you thought it would.  However, you somehow come to grips and accept mentally that you could deal with the worst should it arrive. 

So what to do?  How to improve on the worst that you hopefully can mentally accept?  I think it starts with having the right attitude.  It's my observation that a lot of people on this forum are over the top with worry.  Some people have gone through the Crash Course, and appear to be in a semi-panicked state.  Regardless of whether you freak out or are calm and happy, whatever is going to happen is going to happen

Probably the best thing the average westerner could do (especially Americans like myself) is learn to live with less and really learn to enjoy it.  For me that means smaller car, eating less, little or no TV, more books, lots of physical activity (walking, hiking, and bike riding), cooler in the winter, warmer in the summer, less electricity, eating more garden vegetables and less restaurant food (especially the fast food variety).  Guess what?? I have already lost a bunch of weight and feel better than I have in over 20 years.  My mind is more active, memory has improved, and am generally happier these days.

Gifts's picture
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Re: Stop Worrying and Start Living

absolutly excellent post.


jrf29's picture
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Re: Stop Worrying and Start Living

RikD, that was one of the more apt posts I have seen in a while, I think. 

Acceptance of reality (and potential reality), as well as a little thing called perspective, are two ingredients which go a long way toward happiness.  More, perhaps, than all the gold in the world.

I think the fundimental problem is that many people's sense of security in their physical possessions is linked inseperably with their personal and emotional security.  I think that this is why it is so difficult to convince people of the possibilty that (as Chris says) the future might be different:  because they desperately wish to avoid believing it.  And when people do become convinced of the insecurity of their physical possessions, they fly into the insecure panic which you have described.  

Certainly there are reasons to be interested in one's financial security, and logical steps should be taken to preserve it.  But if people could learn to separate, just a little bit more, the state of their physical lives from their true happiness, they would be far better off.  If people would accept--mentally--the fact that they have no absolute control over future events, and that the single thing in the world which they can truly control is themselves...then they would realize that changing how they react to the world is sometimes a lot more helpful than wishing they could change the world.

pir8don's picture
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Joined: Sep 30 2008
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Re: Stop Worrying and Start Living
RikD wrote:

It's my observation that a lot of people on this forum are over the top with worry.  Some people have gone through the Crash Course, and appear to be in a semi-panicked state. 

Your worry might be someone elses acceptance. You need to read the six steps to acceptance posted by Chris a few months back. Search should find it.

I went though panic and now tend to hover around fear and acceptance. Without the panic I wouldn't have made it anywhere near acceptance. 

What helps me most is the big picture and my version of that has come to me from Daniel Quinn through progressively reading all his books. Beyond Civilization gives a consise summary.

It is very hard to see the humour in the person when all you have to go on is a few (sometimes not so few) sentences.

Many here are very specifically focussed, some have made huge and recent changes in their lives.

We need everyone and their perspectives right from who gives a ... to oh no we are all going to die.




Diversity is our greatest strength, complacency our greatest weakness.

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