Forgetting Ourselves
Dale Carnegie

I could fill a book with stories of people who forgot themselves into health and happiness.  For example, let's take the case of Margaret Tayler Yates, one of the most popular women in the United States Navy.

Mrs. Yates is a writer of novels, but none of her mystery stories is half so interesting as the true story of what happened to her that fateful morning when the Japanese struck our fleet at Pearl Harbor.  Mrs. Yates had been an invalid for more than a year:  bad heart.  She spent twenty-two out of every twenty-four hours in bed.  The longest journey that she undertook was a walk into the garden to take a sunbath.  Even then, she had to lean on the maid's arm as she walked.  She herself told me that in those days she expected to be an invalid for the balance of her life.  "I would never have really lived again," she told me, " if the Japanese had not struck Pearl Harbor and jarred me out of my complacency."

"When this happened," Mrs. Yates said, as she told her story, "everything was chaos and confusion.  One bomb struck so near my home, the concussion threw me out of bed.  Army trucks rushed out to Hickam Field, Scofield Barracks, and Kaneohe Bay Air Station, to bring Army and Navy wives and children to the public schools.

"There the Red Cross telephoned those who had extra rooms to take them in.  The Red Cross workers knew that I had a telephone beside my bed, so they asked me to be a clearinghouse of information.  So I kept track of where Army and Navy wives and children were being housed, and all Navy and Army men were instructed by the Red Cross to telephone me to find out where their families were.

"I soon discovered that my husband, Commander Robert Raleigh Yates, was safe.  I tried to cheer up the wives who did not know whether their husbands had been killed; and I tried to give consolation to the widows whose husbands had been killed--and they were many.  Two thousand, one hundred and seventeen officers and enlisted men in the Navy and Marine Corps were killed and 960 were reported missing.

"At first I answered these phone calls while lying in bed.  Then I answered them sitting up in bed.  Finally, I got so busy, so excited, that I forgot all about my weakness and got out of bed and sat by a table.  By helping others who were much worse off than I was, I forgot all about myself; and I have never gone back to bed again except for my regular eight hours of sleep each night.  I realize now that if the Japanese had not struck at Pearl Harbor, I would probably have remained a semi-invalid all my life.  I was comfortable in bed.  I was constantly waited on, and I now realize that I was unconsciously losing my will to rehabilitate myself.

"The attack on Pearl Harbor was one of the greatest tragedies in American history, but as far as I was concerned, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  The terrible crisis gave me strength that I never dreamed I possessed.  It took my attention off myself and focused it on others.  It gave me something big and vital and important to live for.  I no longer had time to think about myself or care about myself."

A third of the people who rush to psychiatrists for help could probably cure themselves if they could only do as Margaret Yates did:  get interested in helping others.  My idea?  No, that is approximately what Carl Jung said.  And he ought to know--if anybody does.  He said:  "About one-third of my patients are suffering from no clinically defined neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives."  To put it another way, they are trying to thumb a ride through life--and the parade passes them by.  So they rush to a psychiatrist with their petty, senseless, useless lives.  Having missed the boat, they stand on the wharf, blaming everyone except themselves and demanding that the world cater to their self-centered desires. . . .

However humdrum your existence may be, you surely meet some people every day of your life.  What do you do about them?  Do you merely stare through them, or do you try to find out what it is that makes them tick?  How about the postal delivery person, for example--they travel hundreds of miles every year, delivering your mail; but have you ever taken the trouble to find out where he or she lives, or asked to see a snapshot of his or her family?  Did you ever ask if he or she gets tired, or gets bored?

What about the grocery boy, the newspaper vendor, the chap at the corner who polishes shoes?  These people are human--bursting with troubles, and dreams, and private ambitions.  They are also burning for the chance to share them with someone.  But do you ever let them?  Do you ever show an eager, honest interest in them or their lives?  That's the sort of thing I mean.  You don't have to become a Florence Nightingale or a social reformer to help improve the world--your own private world; you can start tomorrow morning with the people you meet!

What's in it for you?  Much greater happiness!  Greater satisfaction, and pride in yourself!  Aristotle called this kind of attitude "enlightened selfishness."  Zoroaster said, "Doing good to others is not a duty.  It is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness."  And Benjamin Franklin summed it up very simply--"When you are good to others," said Franklin, "you are best to yourself."

Dale Carnegie’s books have sold 20 million copies. This volume gathers two of the unrivaled guru of motivational writing’s best guides in one.  His motivational and practical teachings are as sound today as when they were first written. Bestsellers for more than 60 years, How to Win Friends & Influence People and How to Stop Worrying & Start Living, have taught millions how to achieve the pinnacle of personal and professional success. They’re now together in one must-have volume. How to Win Friends reveals fundamental techniques for dealing with people, six ways to make others like you, tricks for becoming a better speaker, and how to be a leader. 


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