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When Bobby McFerrin first sang his classic song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," I felt as if he were singing my thoughts to the world. I've spent most of my professional career studying, learning, teaching, lecturing, and writing about happiness and related topics. I've always known that, despite resistance and objections from the more serious segment of society, people have an innate capacity for happiness. And when we are happy, we not only enjoy our lives more than when we are not, but we are far more competent, productive, and creative. Without the internal distractions of anger, depression, frustration, and especially worry, our relationships flourish, stress is diminished, new doors are opened, and our lives run smoothly.
Several years ago I began to realize that the same essential idea applies to success and money. I had been a reasonably successful business man in several of my own ventures, yet there seemed to be a small but important missing link that was keeping me from realizing my professional and financial goals. There was a part of me that had always been a little unnecessarily cautious, a part of me that worried too much.
Don't Worry About Money!
I began to look carefully at the people I respected and admired, people who had "made it" in their given fields. I looked at writers, athletes, businessmen and women, entertainers, speakers, therapists, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and other professionals. And what I learned amazed me! While there were certainly all types of people — women, men, conservative, liberal, left-brained, right-brained, street smart, Harvard educated, and so on — who had made it really big, there was a thread of consistency that ran through virtually everyone: They didn't worry about money!
Interestingly enough, the lack of worry preceded the success, and was not a by-product of it. An inner, unshakable confidence permeated their entire existence. They were creative problem solvers, great negotiators, and clever creators. They had an ability to see the big picture, they knew the formulas for success. And the best part of it all was that, in almost all cases, it appeared that the nonworriers, the successful people I was studying, truly loved their lives and the way they spent their time. They had fun!
Don't Worry About the Outcome!
I began to apply some of the teachings I had been working with in the field of happiness and self-esteem to my own business life. My life changed, almost instantly. Whereas before I had been quite frightened to speak publicly, I began to love it. The less I worried about the outcome, the better I became at speaking. This translated into more speaking engagements, more book sales, and far more clients for my business. It was as if all of a sudden my time was in greater demand.
I found that the same relationship between less fear and more success existed in my personal investments. As I worried less, I began to expand my knowledge about different kinds of investments and options. Never once did I (or will I) jump into an investment blindly, as some might assume a person would do if he didn't worry; instead, I simply opened my mind to new possibilities. Instead of approaching my financial life with fear, I was beginning to approach it with wisdom. I took more appropriate risks and asked better questions. While my profits grew, I was also learning how to cut my losses — again without too much worry.
Don't Worry About Failure, Criticism, or Rejection
So much in my life began to change, especially the way I related to people. Failure didn't concern me as much, criticism was handled in stride, rejection seemed like information to guide me in a new direction instead of something to immobilize me, hurdles seemed less like obstacles and more like opportunities, and everything, all of it, seemed like more fun. I had more energy, worked a lot smarter, surrounded myself with great people and terrific teachers, and watched my creativity and confidence soar. I tried things I never would have dreamed of attempting. Not everything turned to gold, but some of it did. And that which didn't, always turned out to be a great learning experience.
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More than all of this, however, the area of life that changed the most was my ability to make money. And miraculously, I was also learning how to help others better. I had always wanted to be of service, and to a certain extent I had been. Yet up to that point I had felt that I could and wanted to do more. But again, fear was getting in the way. As I applied the strategies of worry reduction to my business life, an interesting thing began to happen. I no longer allowed fear to dictate how much I felt I could give. I gave away more, and it always came back to me. So I'd give more. And more would come back. Whether I was giving money, time, ideas, energy, or simply my love, it always came back to help me, too.
Giving From the Heart without Fear
In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success , Deepak Chopra discusses the "law of giving." He describes giving and receiving as two sides of the same coin. The more you give, the more you get back. He's right! But you don't give because you want something. You give because giving is its own reward. It's fun. As you learn to worry less, you'll also learn to trust your heart as much or more than your head. While you will be doing better in different aspects of your life, you'll also be doing more for other people. You'll be far less preoccupied with success; yet ironically, you'll become more successful, much more. You'll trust that everything will be okay. And it will.
Mother Teresa reminds us, "We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love." I have certainly found this to be true. However, I have also discovered, as have thousands of others, that as we worry less we are more willing to do those small things with great love. Rather than postponing the giving of our time, energy, ideas, or money, we learn to give freely, from the heart.
I've had clients who, for years, wanted to do important volunteer work but were too frightened to do so. They usually felt that they "couldn't afford" the time off from work. They were too frightened that they might lose their job or fall behind. Fear always created some "good" reason that prevented them from reaching out. Yet, invariably, when they banished their fear and took the step, everything worked out for the best. The actions of their heart led to greater personal fulfillment, the helping of others, new friends, even new personal contacts or ideas that turned their own financial lives around. When the circle of fear is broken, we are all the beneficiaries.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
If you've read any of my other books, you know that I believe strongly in the potential of people. I believe that we are resilient creatures; that we have the capacity for great joy, compassion, and wisdom; that we don't have to "sweat the small stuff". I'm delighted to add to this list my absolute certainty of the correlation between less worry and more success. As you reduce and eventually remove the worry and fear from your life, you will begin to see new options, ways of doing things, and ways of relating to life that were invisible before. You'll have more fun and be able to help more people. You will live the life of your dreams.
If you've read Marsha Sinetar's Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Wayne Dyer's Real Magic, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen's The Aladdin Factor, or practically any of the other wonderful books on success, you'll find in them elements of the "less worry is better" ideal. I believe it is one of the most important factors of success. Until you eliminate worry and fear, it is very difficult to implement any strategy for success.
I cannot adequately put into words how wonderful life can be when worry is diminished. For me, abandoning worry has opened a world of possibilities for both my inner and outer worlds. Life without worry has opened new doors and created freedom that, until a few years ago, I never thought were possible. So, "don't worry" — I know this can happen for you, too.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hyperion. ©1997, 2000. www.hyperionbooks.com
Don't Worry, Make Money: Spiritual & Practical Ways to Create Abundance and More Fun in Your Life
by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.
Now in paperback--the #1 "New York Times" bestseller that offers revolutionary strategies for making more while worrying less. Filled with unique, refreshing ideas to spark the interest of even the most overworked business person, this handy guide presents life-changing wisdom to use at home and at the office.
Info/Order this book. (newer edition: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff About Money: Simple Ways to Create Abundance and Have Fun. Different cover and updated title)
About the Author
RICHARD CARLSON is the bestselling author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work; Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens; and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Men, among many other titles. Richard passed away unexpectedly on December 13, 2006. Visit the Don't Sweat website at www.dontsweat.com.