Not long ago, when I was newly divorced mom with two teenagers, and plenty of reasons to worry, I found this little book. That year, I'd made a New Year's resolution to stop worrying. Living one day at a time sounded like a great idea. But I did not know how. How to stop worrying?
The book had actually been lying on a bookshelf in my home for a very long time. My copy was so old that the pages were yellow, and crumbling I had picked it up once, glanced through it and laid it down, thinking that my problems were just too overwhelming to listen to yet another positive-thinking guru.
This time, as I read and re-read the book, I came to love the people in it, who told their stories in such heart-felt, simple words. Because, you see, the book was written in a laboratory of human experience. For five years, as a teacher of adult education classes at the YMCA, Dale Carnegie taught a class in how to stop worrying. Each week his students, who came from all walks of life, tried his ideas out, and returned to class with honest feedback on what actually worked for them. Carnegie eventually put their stories together, including what they learned as a group. That's how the book took shape.
The stories, all true, are drawn from days when people had good reason to worry. This was the generation which lived through the Great Depression, and then World War II. Everything is covered here - war, loneliness, financial problems (even bankruptcy-one man had gone through bankruptcy three different times, due to the Great Depression), death, worry over children, health problems, fear of the future.
A number of them had come close to ending their lives due to overwhelming personal problems. Everything is described honestly, in this little book. Yet all of them learned to stop worrying. And they tell how they did it.
Some used prayer as a comfort. The book was written during the days when people weren't ashamed to admit that they found comfort in religious belief. But that isn't the main emphasis of the book. It's filled with practical, down-to-earth approaches for living day to day, happily. The answers are those found in the laboratory of real human experience - not theory, but what works.
If you're like me, prone to waking at night, anxious with what Carnegie calls the "wibber-gibbers," it's the ideal bedside companion, and a true comfort throughout life's up and downs.
Recently, during a lawsuit which caused me a significant amount of anxiety, I tore this little paperback into sections, and carried a section into court with me, to read during odd moments as I waited for the outcome of my case. This book, and the love and support of my family, carried me through.