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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked, and in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, chronic worrying, and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, so it’s imperative that we take time to learn how to stop worrying and start living.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you create a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

However, keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it, and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver. If you do find later that you’re heading in the wrong direction, there will be type to reconsider what you’re doing. Until then, stop worrying about where your new decision will take you.

2. Live for Today, Pack Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning, and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments.” Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, and your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present moment.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

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This is, of course, easier said than done, but if you really want to learn how to stop worrying and start living, learning to compartmentalize in this way is imperative. Find a place for everything, just as you would in a perfectly organized closet.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

Start by writing down your biggest concerns. Then, write down the possible consequences of those events and then at least three ways you could overcome or deal with those consequences. You may find you have more tools at your disposal than you think.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative thoughts and experiences when just walking away from them would serve our mental health far better.

To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief in order to learn how to stop worrying and start living.

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5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

A 2020 study found that forcing a smile can help shift your brain toward more positive thinking[1]. Therefore, try to smile, even when you’re feeling down. You may find that it turns your day in a better direction.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz[2]. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

Stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

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7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are in order to learn how to stop worrying and start living.

If you struggle to be your most authentic self, check out this article for help getting started.

8. Haters Will Hate – It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

The next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Stop worrying about criticism and take it as a compliment! 

Now, if you keep hearing the same negative criticism from various people, it may be time to take a look at what you’re doing or how you’re acting. Everyone has room for improvement, so don’t be afraid to adjust your attitude when it’s warranted.

9. Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions, so it’s important to learn how to prevent both fatigue and worry.

It should be clear, therefore, that when you’re learning how to stop worrying and start living, learn to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

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Learn to rest in order to stop worrying and start living.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively. Resting can include taking a nap, enjoying a walk through nature, or sitting on the couch with a good book. Find the form of rest that works for your unique body and mind.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to develop good working habits and stay organized: a desk full of unanswered emails and memos is sure to breed worries.

    Research has shown that “clutter in one’s living space, negative emotions, and impaired social ability all predicted high procrastination scores”[3]. Clutter will not only stress you out, but it will also make you put off the things you need to be doing, which will only cause more stress.

    The Bottom Line

    When you want to learn how to stop worrying and start living, it’s important to identify which areas of your life are causing you the most worry. When you’re able to tackle specific areas, the job will get a lot easier. Cultivate a mental attitude toward more positive thinking and see how it helps you jump into each day with less worry.

    More Tips for Living a Stress-Free Life

    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Sebastian Klein

    Sebastian is the co-founder of Blinkist, a serial entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and writer with a passion for management-free organizations.

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today Life-changing books open your mind 10 Books to Read That Will Change The Way You Think Forever 10 Things You Can Learn From the Dalai Lama to Become a Happier Person Mentors 101 Mentors 101: Finding, Maintaining, and Outmatching Your Mentor jeff bezos 7 Habits You Can Learn From Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com

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    Published on April 15, 2021

    How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

    How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You

    When life gets tough and you are facing big obstacles, it is so hard to be an optimistic person. As we try to deal with these challenges, our feelings tend to be consumed by fear, frustration, and disillusionment. Inertia and indecisiveness overwhelm us, and being optimistic is the last thing we feel like being.

    “I think I am going to have to supercharge my optimism to arm myself for the battle ahead.”—Rebecca Bloom

    Why Is It Important to Be an Optimist?

    Being optimistic is one of the best ways in which you can deal with the hard knocks in life. Having an optimistic outlook on life also has amazing health benefits as well.

    Scientific research shows us that staying in a place where we feel fearful and disillusioned—where we have no energy and no hope—is not good for our overall wellbeing.

    “Optimism helps people cope with disease[s] and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.”[1]

    Your Power of Choice Is Key to Living an Optimistic Life

    Although you may not be born a natural optimist, using your power of choice wisely can help you develop an optimistic attitude that will enable you to defy any odds that are against you. You are the only person who has control over whether you want to be optimistic or not! As the Dalai Lama has said, “choose to be optimistic it feels better!”

    I love this quote from Neale Donald Walsch as he explains very clearly how the power of choice can be used by you to get the results you want:

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    “Therefore, be honest with yourself as to why you are choosing to do a particular thing. Then, do it gladly, knowing that you are always getting to do what you want. The statement “I have no choice” is a lie. You can choose. You simply do not prefer the alternatives available to you, for whatever reason. So you select the outcome that you most prefer.”—Neale Donald Walsch

    Being an optimist opens you up to exploring new ideas, new experiences, and new possibilities. It frees you up to consider new options for how you can live your life for the better. It helps you look to the future with hope and positivity.

    What Is Optimism?

    The definition of optimism, according to Elizabeth Scott MS, is that it is “a mental attitude characterized by hope and confidence in success and a positive future. Optimists are those who expect good things to happen, where pessimists instead predict unfavorable outcomes.”[2]

    However, being an optimist does not necessarily mean that you will be able to successfully deal with the challenges of life. Having a positive mindset along with an optimistic outlook enhances your chances to defy the odds and challenges you face in life.

    What Is Positive Mindset?

    The Oxford dictionary definition of optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something” while positivity is defined as “the practice of being, or tendency to be positive or optimistic in attitude.”

    Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. Positive thinking is an emotional and mental attitude that focuses on the good and expects results that will benefit you. It’s about anticipating happiness, health, and success—essentially, training yourself to adopt an abundance mindset and cultivate gratitude for your own successes and those of others

    Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. You can’t be an optimist and not have a positive mindset.

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    To defy the odds and sustain an optimistic and positive outlook Gabriele Oettingen, a motivation researcher at New York University and author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, believes that it is not just about having happy thoughts—but it is actually planning for and anticipating those positive outcomes that get us results.

    She describes optimism as having positive expectations about the future based on past experiences and positive thinking as wishful dreaming, which is not a bad thing if applied correctly!

    She believes that if we apply optimism (which is a personality trait), we inherit with positive thinking (which is a choice we make) what Oettingen calls “mental contrasting,” which is important for motivation and setting in motion unconscious cognitive processes that are important in goal attainment.[3]

    3 Strategies on How to Be an Optimistic Person

    Applying these 3 strategies will help you to defy the odds you face in life while still being an optimistic person with a positive mindset.

    1. Use the WOOP Model

    Gabriele Oettingen combined her ideas with those of fellow researcher Peter Gollwitzer, and they came up with a motivation exercise called WOOP.

    Using the WOOP Model, you work on goal attainment by applying these 4 steps:[4]

    1. Wishing for something you’d like to achieve.
    2. Imagining a good outcome.
    3. Examining the obstacles that might get in your way.
    4. Coming up with a plan for overcoming those obstacles.

    Research results conducted by Gabriele Oettingen have shown that employing WOOP is more successful than positive thinking alone in helping people to fulfill their desired goals.[5]

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    Knowing how to activate your positive and optimistic outlook on life to get the results you want is key to you building your resilience to manage the hard knocks and challenges that life throws at you. Having a positive outlook on life takes work and the WOOP model is a framework that you can use to put your goals into action so that you can start to feel good about achieving the goals you set in life.

    2. Cultivate a Positive and Optimistic Mindset

    Adopting a positive mindset can help us get through difficult times. However, if we are not careful, we can tend to focus on thinking positive thoughts and banishing all negative ones. This can be exhausting and not a realistic way to deal with life’s challenges

    I believe that the combination of a positive mindset and an optimistic view of life that is realistic is the secret weapon to successfully dealing with the obstacles and pitfalls we face in life.

    Here are 4 things that you could do now that would enable you to grow and sustain a positive and optimistic mindset:

    1. Once a day, share positive feedback with a minimum of three people—work colleague, partner, children, friend, or anyone that you meet on the day. Making other people feel positive has lasting effects on your own life.
    2. Every morning when you wake up and at night just before you go to bed, praise yourself and reflect on all the positive things that happened to you during the day. Keep a journal and note down at least three positive things that you did today or are grateful for.
    3. Imagine a positive future for you – get a journal, and for seven days, write down all the great things you want to happen—tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year! This is the first step to dreaming big with an optimistic outlook on life!
    4. Consider a serious challenge or obstacle you are facing in your life right now and write down at least five possible positive outcomes. This exercise allows you to look at your challenges with an optimistic and positive mindset.

    3. Recognize Negative Thinking

    When you are dealing with challenging times and it feels like the odds are against you, it is hard to maintain an optimistic outlook on your life. You can’t push away or bury your negative feelings—what you resist will persist.

    The best way to be optimistic despite the challenges you are facing is to acknowledge that bad things happen. Ignoring your reality isn’t helpful. Being realistic about your situation is important to you working out how to best work with the difficult situation you are facing. A healthy and realistic outlook of your life is a great way to accept that all you can do is your best and that you will be okay, regardless of the outcome.

    When you are thinking negatively, take a moment to assess how realistic your thoughts are. Reframe your negative thoughts into more realistic statements that can help you maintain an optimistic view of the future and potential solutions.

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    Final Thoughts

    As an optimist, you believe in hope, opportunities, and a brighter future. Choosing to be an optimist is a choice that comes with surprising benefits. Scientific research has shown that an optimistic and positive view of life allows you to live a healthier and happy life, despite the odds that are against you![6] When you are trying to be optimistic, especially when the odds are against you, having a positive thinking mindset is a secret ingredient to you successfully riding that rollercoaster of life!

    Optimism and positive thinking go hand in hand. Positive thinking looks for solutions, whereas negative thinking dwells on the problems and obstacles. There is no doubt that the more optimistic you are about life the happier you will be.

    Applying the three strategies above will help you to remain an optimist while successfully navigating your way through the challenges and tough times in your life.

    “True hopefulness and optimism are what leads one to dare. It is also what lifts one back up to dare again after a failed attempt.”—Bibi Bourelly

    More Tips on Being More Positive

    Featured photo credit: Hudson Hintze via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health
    [2] VeryWellMind: What Is Optimism?
    [3] Positive Psychology: What Is Mental Contrasting and How to Benefit From It?
    [4] WOOP: What is WOOP?
    [5] Greater Good Magazine: Can Positive Thinking Really Make Dreams Come True?
    [6] Harvard Health Publishing: Optimism and your health

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