Time Solves A Lot of Things

View of 114 West 64th Street from North.  Courtesy NYC Municipal Archive.

Time Solves A Lot of Things

by Claudie Benjamin

As WWI was underway, a contest was held in Britain for a military marching song. Two Welsh brothers, George Henry Powell, (under the name George Asaf) and Felix Powell, joined forces to respectively write the lyrics and compose the music. They won with the song they submitted. It began: “Put all your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile.” [1] 

The song became hugely successful though Felix, “a life-long pacifist always had misgivings about the song that soldiers sang on the way to their death.” He committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart. [2] 

By coincidence, three decades later in the United States, the idea of managing troubles, more specifically called “worries” was taken up in 1948 by Dale Carnegie in a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living that joined his earlier How to Win Friends and Influence People published in 1936, among a number of fabulously successful works. Carnegie was described, as “an American writer and lecturer, and the developer of courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.” [3] 

In his books, his hallmark was integrating anecdotal testimonials by famous names along with those by private citizens whose experiences supported his practical advice for self-help.

In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living one of many success stories titled “Time Solves a Lot of Things” was provided by Louis T. Montant Jr., a man who identified himself as a “Sales/Marketing Analyst.” His address was 114 West 64th Street. At the time of the book’s publication, Montant would have been about 40 and an Army Veteran. [4] 

“an American writer and lecturer, and the developer of courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.”

Describing his worries, Montant wrote, ”I worried about everything: my job, my health, my family, and my feeling of inferiority. I was so frightened that I used to cross the street to avoid meeting people I knew. When I met a friend on the street, I would often pretend not to notice him, because I was afraid of being snubbed.” [5] So, how was Montant’s story related to managing worries and moving forward?  He specified that he recognized the gravity of these problems.  He wrote that he had spent at least a decade between the ages of 20 and 30 debilitated by a preoccupation with his worries.  Then, he started to turn his life around after an acquaintance introduced him to a very doable technique of writing his problems down on a piece of paper and putting it in the bottom right-hand drawer of his desk and leaving it there for a week. The advice was to leave the note there a week before checking it. If the worry had not dissipated, he was to repeat the process. The bottom line was that the passage of time heals. The advice given to Montrant was also consistent with the contemporary adage “to live in the moment.” A current digital animation illustrates the idea that worry comes from angst related to concerns prompted by looking backward or projecting issues into the future. In contrast, a better place to be is in the present. [6]

Carnegie deliberately identified contributors of success stories by name and address. He indicated that the rationale for this approach and the focus on names in his training courses was that it gained the reader’s trust. [7]

Dale Carnegie's Book

Image Courtesy Wikipedia ca. undated

Having acquired a good amount of sales experience himself, Carnegie and identified salespeople as prime potential readers for this book as well as others like How to Make Friends and Win Confidence. From the start of his writing career which followed a long period of searching for a satisfying occupation, Carnegie lectured and hosted workshops to boost sales of his books, lecture invitations, and future workshops. The sales workshop was introduced in 1939. [8] Montant could have met Carnegie in one of these courses delivered in New York in the 1940s where he regularly lectured. Later Carnegie’s company was based on West 55th Street and is currently on the Upper East Side.  Some of the well-known Carnegie course graduates include former President Lyndon Johnson, Mary Kay, Warren Buffett, and Joe DiMaggio. [9]

How to Stop Worrying was reprinted almost 60 times, and has been translated into 21 languages. Workshops and courses continue to this day and are available in print and on YouTube. [10]

Carnegie’s approach to managing worrying and other challenges also has its critics who assert that his guidance is simplistic. It may be argued that conditions such as PTSD (only formally acknowledged in 1980), depression, or acute avoidance, such as Montant reported, are complex mental disorders that most people cannot resolve on their own without clinical treatment. We don’t know how Montant’s sales career evolved or how his life in general progressed. However, the internet is filled with reader comments about the life-changing, self-help guidance they received by reading Carnegie’s books. Comments from Amazon customers are glowing. [11]

Reader enthusiasm supports the idea that worrying and in particular awareness that it distracts from the enjoyment of daily life, is a problem that is experienced by people everywhere. Certainly, Montant was on the right track in recognizing his disability and finding an approach that worked for him.

Montant could have met Carnegie in one of these courses delivered in New York in the 1940s where he regularly lectured. 


[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pack_Up_Your_Troubles_in_Your_Old_Kit-Bag

[2] IBID

[3] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Carnegie

[4] https://www.fold3.com/memorial/85976636/louis-t-montant-jr

[5] http://themotivation-goodbyeworries.blogspot.com/2015/01/time-solves-lot-of-things-by-louis-t.html?m=1

[6] IBID

[7] https://www.storyprompt.com/playbook/dale-carnegies-magic-formula

[8] https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/37654660/dale-carnegie-trainingi-salesdalecarnegiecom 

[9] https://infomory.com/famous/famous-dale-carnegie-graduates/

[10] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KvFeqbkS1AM

[11] https://www.amazon.com/How-Stop-Worrying-Start-Living/product-reviews/0671035975

Claudie Benjamin is journalist who writes for LANDMARK WEST!

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