How to overcome stress and worry
by Kevin D. Crone
Just a few years ago was the passing of Robin Williams. It was sad because so many people have been touched by his genius. He made you laugh, cry, and think. I loved “Dead Poet’s Society”. He was a child at heart. You just knew he was a terrific guy. How can anyone get in such a black hole that they can’t see a way out? I don’t profess to know anything about depression, so it’s a tough question to answer. It’s a common disease that, for some, requires therapy and/or medication.
Unfortunately, the average person who may not suffer from depression, can still find themselves in a black hole of worry and stress that drastically affects their life. When I coached in our Dale Carnegie programs, I heard hundreds, maybe thousands, of reports on how business people overcame destructive worry habits and how they got their excessive stress under control.
What I learned, along with everyone else, is that everyone has problems and, from time to time, just about everyone has ups and downs. They fret over things in the past and worry about things that could happen. It’s as if we aren’t prepared for the pressures of the experiences of life.
So many diseases are attributed, in part, to worry and the resulting stress, that some say causes up to 50% of deaths. Some of the participant’s reports will stick in my mind forever. Why, because intellectually we understand a lot of things but it takes an emotional impact from something happening to make changes.
Listening to others about how they successfully applied Dale Carnegie’s principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” supplies the inspiration that can wake us up to begin the habits we need. Here are three of Dales many principles that participants read about then put into practice, and then report on their application to begin to make a habit of them. (To read all of Dale Carnegie’s principles, download his complimentary Golden Book).
First, Dale equated our life to a ship with all of its compartments. We need to turn off the past worry (he said you can’t saw sawdust) and put them in day-tight compartments. (Most things we fear don’t happen anyway). Then, he suggests to seize the day. Focus on what you can only do today on behalf of your future and goals. This mental habit can free us from the harmful effects of worry and stress so we can get on with life and perform, achieve, and be happy. He didn’t say we shouldn’t prepare for tomorrow, but that the best way to do so is to concentrate on today’s work – things you can control and do.
So, touch a button and hear at every level of your life the iron doors shutting out the past – the dead yesterday’s. Touch another and shut off, with a metal thud, your future concerns. Live in day-tight compartments. It helps to remind ourselves that today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. We survived.
The second principle which I have counted on many times, is when you’re faced with a worrisome business or life problem, instead of going into that funk that grabs us with constant worry – ask yourself:
1) What is the worst that can possibly happen?
2) Prepare to accept the worse if you have to.
3) Calmly proceed to improve on the worst.
Once a bad situation is accepted and we know it cannot be changed, there’s no point in constantly fretting about it. You can stew or do!
Third, we all know a person whose mind is taking them back or forward, and today escapes them. About 90% of the things in our lives or business are right and 10% are wrong. If we want to be healthy and happy and productive, we have to concentrate on the 90% that are right and ignore the 10%. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get better, it does mean don’t dwell on the wrongs. Dale’s advice was to count your blessings. Make the list at Christmas. And during the year, remind yourself of a few blessings every day. No one can live in fear, discouragement or disappointment and still be productive and happy. There are no Pollyanna solutions to the tragedies of life. Suffering is part of life. Dale’s advice was to cope with problems, sometimes accept the inevitable, don’t brood or worry as to do so does more harm than the problem itself.
We definitely miss Robin Williams. Most of us will never understand the disease that took his life. What we can understand is that our worries and too much stress can harm us in many ways. Don’t let it. From personal experience and from coaching others for so many years, I can attest that you can stop worrying and start living.
Write on a card one of the three mental approaches that was mentioned today.
1) Live in day tight compartments.
2) The three step formula when facing a problem.
3) Count your blessings.
Crumple up that card and carry it with you every day for two weeks as a reminder to apply the approaches when worry and too much stress appears. See what happens. You will be inspired to keep using it.
Have an enthusiastic week!