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Our Habits and the Silver Linings

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

[Work From Home Day 6]

As creatures of habit, it is understandable for us as humans to feel uncomfortable with the sudden changes in lifestyle. Ian Newby-Clark, a psychologist at the University of Guelph explains that a habit is how effortlessly our actions are done without us engaging with much energy or thought into it. The second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia struck us hard, professionally and personally, hence we are out of our usual habitual habitat. Everything we do seems uncomfortable, perhaps even unproductive as we struggle to get used to the changes. We have a valid reason to be worry but as Dale Carnegie puts it, break the worry habit before it breaks you.

Let’s put that into perspective by first defining worry. Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries defined worry as to always be thinking of unpleasant things that may or may not happen, or of problems that you have. By understanding and accepting that the root cause of worry is actually in your mind, let’s take a deep breath and work on fixing that. In Dale Carnegie, we believe that the ability to manage your worries can really shape how you view yourself and that in turn shape how people view you as a person; and we have the tools that you can use right now to help you overcome that worry. Or at the very least, help you manage it.

Dale Carnegie’s principles on “Break the Worry Habit, Before it Breaks You” is a time-tested tool that fits well into our current Restricted Movement Order situation amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are a few extracted from that very principle that can be applied at this moment.  Firstly, keep yourself busy. As mentioned, we humans are creatures of habit. When we are restricted from our usual hustle and bustle of going to work, we are forced to change that habit and most will find themselves at loss of how to manage their work and personal matters as both are now entwined. Pick up that book you have been meaning to read. Sort out the drawers and cupboards you were too busy to even peek into on normal days. Try a new recipe and get your family members in the excitement. Once you have cleared your mind enough, you are ready to carry on with whatever work you may have – and your family is happy too. That’s a bonus!

Secondly, don’t fuss about trifles. Dale Carnegie wrote a book titled, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” and by the title itself, one can relate as to how much worry can affect your everyday life. Trifling matters are small things that can accumulate and plague your mind into making you unnecessarily worry about many things. “I am scared of being infected!”, well then respect the Movement Control Order and stay where you are. “But what if I am out of supplies?”, then be assured that the retail industry in Malaysia is working their best to provide you with enough supplies for all. As long as you follow the precautions when going out for a supply run (such as sanitizing your hands, wearing face masks and respecting social distancing, etc.) then you can be assured of your health and safety. Remember, these are small problems that in actuality are not as bad as you expect it to be. So live worry-free!

Third, cooperate with the inevitable. COVID-19 in Malaysia was inevitable. The situations for the Movement Control Order was inevitable. There was nothing we could have done on a personal scale to halt this. These are natural forces beyond our control and we, as human beings need to respect it for what it is. How do we cooperate with the current inevitable situation, you ask? Simple. As mentioned earlier, we respect the Movement Control Order and do our part to ensure that COVID-19 in Malaysia is manageable by the brave men and women in the frontline of this ‘war’. Let’s do our part!

Lastly, decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more. Are you worried about your work? Yes. Should you be anxious about the current COVID-19 situation in Malaysia? Definitely. It is understandable and it is in our nature to be afraid of something, so if you are feeling anxious now then rest assured you are not alone. Take a moment to sit down and take a deep breath to sort your worries out one at a time. How anxious should you be of getting infected? Well, if you take good care of your health and follow all the guidelines by the government and authority then there is not much to fear. How anxious should you be when you hear a case happening close to where you are? Avoiding the infected location and keeping you and your house clean should be more than enough to keep you healthy. Remember that you have better things to do besides worrying all the time, so don’t overthink and do what you enjoy. You are the narrator of your own story!

Dale Carnegie once said, “Keep busy. It’s the cheapest kind of medicine there is” and personally, I tend to agree to this. Not to be confused that we should be oblivious and outright ignore the reality of what is currently happening in Malaysia, but always be aware that things are not as out of control as it seems. We are living in a moment where we are forced to change our habits and are increasingly worried of the situations as it unfolds. But do remember everything is manageable if you take your time to sit down and think about it. Consider the principles shared to help your guide your days. Do you have a method of your own to keep yourself calm? We would love to hear from you as well.

“The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming”.


Performance Consultant, Dale Carnegie Malaysia

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