How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

Worry is the thief of health, the thief of action. Worry is the enemy of getting sh*t done!

Worrying makes you FEEL as if you have done something, when really you have simply wasted energy digging yourself deeper into the hole you are trying desperately to crawl out of!

Worrying unproductively allocates your energy — energy that could have been resourced into creating healthier habits. Worrying is not productive. Analysis and thought are productive. Worrying zaps resources.

Dale may not have categorized his work as a “fitness book,” but the concept that “worrying is the opposite of living” is absolutely applicable to health and wellness. Too many of us mistake thinking and worrying about our health for ACTION. We mistake “brain business” for real business; we feel as if we have made lots of healthy choices, when in reality we have just unreflectively thought a lot. How frustrating and emotionally exhausting! No wonder so many of us end up self-sabotaging — we feel as if we are spending so much time on our health but not getting results. No wonder we skip workouts and indulge in unhealthy food.

You don’t become healthier from worrying about your health; you become healthier by getting up and going for a walk! Action is KEY.

Some concepts for your health journey: “Stop thinking and start DOING!!”

Don’t let the weight of your unborn tomorrow overwhelm the already taxing weight of today

Each individual day is physically and emotionally stressful in its own right. The “weight” of today is enough of a burden; no one needs the weight of multiple days and multiple possible phantom futures — especially since the “what if” parade is endless, a bottomless pit of potential stress. STOP going to the parade.

Set yourself up for success by focussing on the moment you have direct control over — NOW!

Finding the ignition energy to simply go for a walk is hard enough. When you add the “what if X” weight — “What if I don’t lose weight?” “What if I fail again?” — you make the fitness journey downright impossible.

When faced with a health decision, I imagine I am standing at a fork in the road. One route leads directly to “shit health creek.” The second road includes another fork — one that at least includes the possibly of “beautiful health creek.” I try to always take the second road; the second road at least leaves open the possibility of success. Sure, that second road might loop back to shit creek, but at least I give myself the possibility of seeing the beautiful brook!! Plus, if I do loop back to the shit creek, at least have data to learn from.

The trick is to act and then learn from experiences, past mistakes, and bright spots. Replicate the bright spots. Set up systems that will save your future self from repeating past mistakes.

Never cry over spilt milk

Sounds trite, but it’s such excellent advice, especially when it comes to health.

Dale tells the story of a teacher who purposely spilled milk down a drain as a teachable moment. The lesson was that once something has gone down the drain, you can’t get it back. So, stop wasting energy trying to get it back. Note that you fell off your health horse and decide if you want to stop that from happening again. If so, create systems so another “carton” doesn’t fall.

How many times have you had a treat, unproductively focused on the indulgence, and then shamed yourself into making further less-than-ideal choices? A few cookies births thoughts such as “I always do this. I say I will be good and then I have those cookies. F*ck it. I am never going to succeed. I might as well have a few more.” We all focus on the spilled “cookies,” unproductively germinating on a past we can’t get back. It is more productive to learn from the experience and focus on the present and future.

You can learn from any experience, but wasting energy trying to change the laws of physics —wishing for time travel to get the treat or milk back — is simply silly.

I challenge you, the next time you miss a workout or make a less-than-ideal food choice, to not waste valuable emotional energy “crying” over it. What is done is done. LEARN from the experience — decide if you would make the same choice again. Maybe you would do it again. Maybe you loved the treat and savoured every bite. Great, life is short. Maybe you wouldn’t. Great. Maybe you would make the same choice, but to a different degree. Great. There is no “right” answer, just the answer that will make your future self proud. For instance, let’s say you ate two pieces of your mom’s apple pie. You could decide two pieces was fine — it happens once a year, no big deal. Or you could decide “never again” — your adult self hates pie. Or you could decide next time to only have one slice; that one small piece would have made you feel satisfied and happy, but two pieces made you feel gross. The experience is done. You can either emotionally “stay with it” and create a negative spiral forward or you can learn from it and then move on and make the NEXT BEST CHOICE POSSIBLE. Instead of harping over the pie get up and go for a walk!!

Many of us would never waste our financial resources but don’t bat an eye at wasting our other resources such as our energy, attention, and time!

Our energy, attention, and time are valuable resources; consciously decide how you want to allocate them — they are not infinite.