I Earned 20% More After Reading This Book

by Frugal Duchess on 10 July 2009 1 comment
Photo: Amazon

Within the last 30 days, I've increased my monthly income by about 20 percent and I give credit to a book (from 1944!) that has really rocked my world, namely: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. In this piece, I'll highlight the strategy that has really put more money in my pocket.

The Background

In past posts, I've calculated that my assorted worries cost me about $6,500 annually. Over the last few weeks, I've really focused on reading How to Stop Worrying every day and that daily ritual has quieted the chatter in my brain. (Of course, more Yoga/exercise, journal entries, meditation and prayers have also helped).

Why am I a worrier? I think it's just my nature.

Even as a little girl, I used to murmur prayers in the family car as my Dad drove us from our old neighborhood in Philadelphia to South Jersey, where I grew up. Now if you know, my Dad --Mr. Safety/Mr. Excellent Driver -- the backseat portrait of a little girl whispering prayers into her passenger window is odd. Now consider this: I am now 49 years old, and I still don't drive. But that's another story.

Bottom Line: I'm hard-wired to be a worrier.

The Book

I have different strategies for handling the worries. I have mantras, affirmations, etc. Those are fine & helpful. But Dale Carnegie's book provides a formula for dismantling worries. Part of his program involves reading the book--a chapter or a page--every day and that process provides a daily shield against worries. He points out that the smartest people in business constantly review their contracts and documents because it's so easy to forget the fine print.

Carnegie's three-step formula also provides me with a practical tool for banishing worries:

Rule #1: Live in a "Day-Tight Compartment."

Basically, you create a mental box. Carnegie suggested the water-tight chambers in the center of a ship. I've been using an elevator chamber metaphor, in which I shut out anything beyond the current day. Actually, I have to shut out anything beyond the current moment. That's because at 8:30 pm, I will obsess and worry about an email that I sent at 8:30 am. Did I use the right words? Did I sound silly? Why didn't I delete the message? That's the bit that drills through my head...off and on for 12 hours or more.

But in my moment-to-moment chamber, I shut my elevator door on those worries. The chamber closes and I'm lifted off that horrible floor of unwise emails and obsessive regrets. The elevator opens on a different floor in the current moment. It's a visual exercise that keeps me traveling in the Here-and-Now.

Rule #2: Face trouble with three basic questions:

  • Name the worst that can happen. For example: The 8:30 am email recipient will think that I'm a total obsessive, delusional loser.
  • Accept that outcome: Okay. Oh well. So be it. They probably thought I was weird anyway.
  • Improve on the worst: "Calmly try to improve upon the worst--which you have already mentally agreed to accept."-- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, p.36. In my theoretical email example, I can improve on the worst by learning to use the delete key or letting questionable emails sit in my draft box for a day, a week, a lifetime. I can mentally promise to sit on my hands if a similar scenario arises again. With that plan, I can just go on to have a happy life, even if I occasionally send out stupid emails.

Rule #3: Be mindful of anxiety costs

Constantly remind yourself about the high costs of anxiety in terms of health & wealth.  "One of the worst features about worrying is that it destroys our ability to concentrate."--p. 18

How I Earned More

A little while ago, a national magazine offered me an opportunity to contribute to their monthly reporting staff. But I was so overwhelmed by free-floating anxieties that I was unable to contribute to the first assignment. However, in the last few weeks, I've really worked on removing stress from my emotional arteries. And by worrying less, I really had more time to complete a new assignment for that publication, which means more money for me: about 20% a month. It's a mental exercise that I can take to the bank.

Editor's note: Sharon Harvey Rosenberg (The Frugal Duchess) will be joining Wise Bread as a full time blogger in August. In the mean time, she'll be dropping by with a few guest posts a week.  You can find more great tips from Sharon in her book Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money or in Wise Bread's new book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

Can't wait until August? Here are other great posts by Sharon on her blog The Frugal Duchess. Enjoy!

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Deb

This is absolutely one of the best books EVER.

I too am a worrier by nature. We took on some unexpected debt over the past year when a relocation/renting our old home out went completely awry. We paid two mortgages, electric bills, etc. for 15 months instead of the 6 we had planned for. I worried myself sick, quite literally, with what ifs.
My health actually suffered for the worry.

This book saved my sanity, and possibly my life. I keep it next to my bed, and pull it out on as an needed basis. I'm doing much better at focusing on the here and now. I accepted the worst that could happen, and we came up with a strong action plan to take control of our situation so that I could feel empowered instead of helpless. I developed financial spreadsheets, and track our every penny. Each month our debt shrinks, our savings grows, and those what ifs have never materialized.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is suffering from worry or anxiety. It's better than any anxiety medication I was ever prescribed.