How to Stop Worrying and Start Living Summary
| |

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie Summary and Analysis

We’re scratching the surface here. If you don’t already have the book, get the audiobook for free on Amazon to learn the juicy details.

Dale Carnegie’s Perspective

Dale Carnegie was an American author and lecturer.  He was a man who was not afraid to pursue his dreams, who believed in the value of hard work and personal growth and as a result achieved great success throughout his life. 

He was born into poverty on a farm in Maryville Missouri on November 24th in 1888. As a young adult, he moved to New York where he became a salesman. A job he hated to such a degree that he felt compelled to make a life-changing decision and go into adult teaching instead. A decision that: ”Completely altered” his future and ”made the rest of my life happy and rewarding beyond my most utopian aspirations” 

Through his teaching job, Carnegie realized that far too many people are held back by their fears.

And with that discovery, the world-famous Dale Carnegie courses began. Not only did he develop new techniques that made speakers unafraid to address a public audience he also tapped into the average person’s desire to have more self-confidence.

Today, Dale Carnegie’s legacy is as strong as ever. The Dale Carnegie company is still to this day dedicated to serving the business community worldwide. 

Summary of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

So begins How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and on the next 300 pages, or so, Dale Carnegie inaugurates us in his philosophy and wisdom on how to stop worrying and start living. 

It goes like this… When people try to fight worry, they often do it by trying to eliminate the source of their worry. This makes great sense in theory but in reality, often the things we worry most about are things we cannot eliminate. Am I good enough at my job? Will my son be ok? Can we pay next month’s rent? 

In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie suggests that we instead try to fight worry and rumination by changing our mental attitude. 

The book is divided into 8 parts. 

Part One – Fundamental Facts You Should Know About Worry

Fearful thoughts can make things seem dangerous and scary, while joyful thoughts help fill our lives with pleasure and gladness. So instead of dwelling on thoughts of anger or revenge, he proposes that you spend your time focusing on happy, hopeful things.

This doesn’t mean living in denial or ignorance. It simply means learning to address concerns in a way that doesn’t make them worse. With a truly positive mindset, you will be well equipped when worry comes your way. 

Worrying about the past or future is pointless. The rule is simple. Whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Of course, you can still plan and prepare for the future but there is often little use in worrying about it. The best preparation is to do the best you can, in life and work, in this present moment. 

Part Two – Basic Techniques in Analyzing Worry

The book offers the following advice on how to break the cycle of worry. We must learn three basic steps of problem analysis: 

Step 1 – Get the facts. Without all the facts, all we can do is stew around in confusion. And confusion is the chief cause of worry. Carnegie suggests that you write all the facts on a piece of paper and state them in a clear and orderly fashion since “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved”

Step 2 – Analyze the facts. Make a list of all your options. When analyzing the facts Carnegie suggests that you pretend you are reviewing the information for another person. This will help you take an impartial view.

Step 3 – Arrive at a decision – and then act on that decision. Get busy carrying out your solution – and dismiss all anxiety about the outcome. Don’t even stop for a moment to hesitate, reconsider or retrace your steps. Once you have chosen a course of action, stick to it. Otherwise, you will just find yourself back at square one. 

Part Three – How to Break the Worry Habit Before It Breaks You

In a nutshell, part three provides the reader with actionable advice that can help break the worry cycle. 

For example, to keep yourself so busy that you don’t have time to ruminate or worry. And to use your common sense together with the law of averages to “outlaw your worries”. Ask yourself “What are the odds against this thing happening at all?” Often you will find that your worries are unrealistic and frequently out of proportion. 

Furthermore, if you know that circumstances are beyond your power to change then just lean back and co-operate with the inevitable. 

Another piece of actionable advice is to “Put a stop-loss order on your worries”. The term is one Dale Carnegie amended after some good advice given on how to make money on the stock market.  It goes like this:

Dale Carnegie realized that this concept can easily be transferred into other parts of life besides financial matters. If you, for example, have a friend who is always late for a lunch date you can tell her “Betty, my stop-loss order on waiting for you is exactly 10 minutes. If you are not here by then I’ll be out of here”. According to Carnegie this piece of advice is: “The greatest secret to true peace of mind”. 

Part Four – Seven Ways To Cultivate A Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace and Happiness

Dale Carnegie was once asked what the biggest lesson he ever learned was. The answer was easy: 

If you think fearful thoughts, you are fearful. If you think miserable thoughts, you become miserable and if you think happy thoughts – you guessed it – you become happy. 

He follows up this statement by referring to 8 words uttered by the Roman Empire, Marcus Aurelius

Further to this amazing reflection Carnegie gives the following advice. Never try to get even with your enemies because you will only end up hurting yourself far more than you will hurt them. And don’t be disappointed if people are ungrateful. Instead, remember that the only way to find happiness is to give just for the joy of giving. 

And of course, if life gives you lemons, don’t worry about it – make lemonade instead. 

Part Five – The Perfect Way to Conquer Worry

As mentioned earlier, Dale Carnegie was born and brought up on a Missouri farm. 

His family was poor, and times were tough. As a religious family, they often turned to God for mental strength through prayer. 

In the chapter, Carnegie recommends that the readers try praying in order to ease their worries. 

Even if you don’t believe in God and even if you are a skeptic when it comes to religion. Praying can help us to articulate our worries, it provides a sense of not being alone in the world and it gives the needed energy to take action. 

Part Six – How to keep from worrying about Criticism

First, he points out that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment made by someone who is either jealous or feels envy. 

Then he reminds us to always do the best we can, and by knowing we have done so, we can let all criticism fly right by without taking notice of it. 

With that said, remember to ask for constructive criticism as this will help you grow. 

Part Seven – Six Ways to Prevent Fatigue and Worry and Keep Your Energy and Spirits High

This chapter emphasizes the power of preventing fatigue: “Why am I writing a chapter on preventing fatigue in a book on preventing worry? That is simple: because fatigue often produces worry, or, at least it makes you susceptible to worry”

Here is the advice he has for the reader: 

  • Rest before you get tired
  • Learn to relax at work and at home
  • Apply good working habits and do the most important tasks first
  • Put enthusiasm into your work

And finally, remember that worrying about insomnia will harm you much more than actually having insomnia.

Part Eight – How I Conquered Worry – 31 True Stories

This part we will leave un-summarized, except for telling you that if you buy the book you are in for a treat! The book ends with 31 true and inspiring stories about how people in the real world conquered their worry habit. 


Worrying can have a serious impact on our physical and mental health. In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie encourages us to face our worry heads-on. He puts forth a series of strategies that can help us do exactly that. 

By nurturing a strong and positive mental attitude, you can fight your anxiety, and find the courage to carry on in an unsure world and live every day to its fullest. 

And with that, we will soon conclude this summary of “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. Before we leave you, let us share some of our favorite quotes from the book with you: 

As always, we highly recommend reading the whole book. You can get the audiobook for free on Amazon.

Comment below or tweet to us @storyshots if you have any feedback.

Related Book Summaries

Book review and summary of Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy (Open in the app)

Book review and summary of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Open in the app)

Book review and summary of Start with Why by Simon Sinek (Open in the app)

Book review and summary of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Open in the app)

How to Be a Stoic

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.