I'm pretty sure moms always know more than they let on to...maybe even more than they think they know. I just started this book - "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" on my mom's recommendation. She bought it at Good Will a while back, and loaned it to me the other day when I asked for a good read. This particular book was printed in 1948, just a few years after it was published. It doesn't look like the one in the picture...mine is black with a hard cover and it has Dale Carnegie's signature on the front. It smells like an old book and the pages are well-separated, like it's been read a million times. I love that. I've only read the first 12 pages and already feel that it's changed the way I think and helped me see what I need to do in order to...well...stop worrying.
That my mom would even suggest this book is an insight into my heart, whether she knew it or not. Worry, anxiety, distress, doubt, fear, uneasiness and that unsettled feeling in my heart and stomach have been my constant companions for a while now. And when you feel those feelings long enough you start to believe them AND you start to let them define you. You start to think that what you feel is what you believe and who you are. Those are lies. Ugly lies that keep us down and make us feel hopeless and helpless. They make us feel stuck in the mistakes of the past and worrysome about the worst the future could possibly hold. But that could be its very own post...needless to say, 'worry' had made itself uncomfortably comfortable in my heart, without me really even realizing it until now.
What's funny about the age of this book is the irony of it having something so worth while to teach me. Not that I am foolish to think that there aren't entire libraries of old books full of things I don't know. What I mean is, even though this book was written 60 years ago, the things that Dale Carnegie writes about aren't new, and at the same time they are SO new and enlightening. None of the concepts are so new and foreign that I haven't heard them before. I think it's the power in his words that hits me so hard...I mean listen to this...
"Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all that life really means." -Robert Louis Stevenson
Dwelling in the past and fretting about the future is what gets us into trouble...the meaning of the entire quote is summed up in the very last sentence - "and this is all that life really means." Life isn't lived in years or weeks or even days, really. Life is lived right NOW. I mean, when else are you going to enjoy life? Tomorrow? To think that we can be happy or that we will be happy at some point in the future is not only illusive...it's impossible. In order to be happy, we do what we can....we do everything we can right now and enjoy it. Sure we learn from what we've already been through and we plan for what we think lies ahead, but why hold on to any anxiety about it.
When I picked this book up, I wondered what it would say. And after 12 pages it makes perfect sense that the very first chapter would be about living right NOW and forgetting about the lie that I can change anything in the past or control anything in the future. And because of that, I have to let go of my pet excuses....the ones I keep around because they make me feel "good". The excuse that "I will be happy when...[fill in the blank with 1 million expectations] and "I will start exercising tomorrow...or Monday...or after I have this baby." Lie. It's not gonna happen. The excuse that "I will keep in touch with the people I love another day" or "I will set the table and make beautiful dinners for my family next week."
They're all lies. If I want to change anything or accomplish anything worth accomplishing, TODAY is the day. And you know what the real secret is? The real secret is that once you decide to live right now (and as a side-note, I DO believe that there is a learning curve and it takes time to learn a new skill), but once we decide to live for today and for the very moment we're in, everything changes. On the very first day of trying (you know...when it's the easiest) the anxiety about tomorrow goes away, and life becomes blissful. I have really learned what I had always heard and what Dale Carnegie is teaching - there is no happy destination somewhere in the future...that illusion is a mirage....a pretty picture in the desperation of life's desert. Life is meant to be blissfully happy right now. AND there is more than enough to be blissfully happy about.
I'm not perfect at it, and still feel worried but I am taking it a day at a time and learning to do what I can about my troubles today and let tomorrow take care of itself. I choose to live today...to be happy today....to let yesterday and tomorrow take care of themselves....Here's to a happy day TODAY for you!!!!