Dale Carnegie’s Positive Thinking Habits That Will Help You Out
Last year I’ve read “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living”, by the late Dale Carnegie, for the first time. It is a book absolutely worth reading if you’re a self-development geek and you’re trying to decontaminate your brain from the conformists routes of today’s brainwashed world.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t the happiest back then. Plus, the title was very entailing: “I have to give it a shot”, I thought.
However, it didn’t change anything, but the book was not the cause at all. Truth be told, I was anything but proactive back then. Fearful, paralyzed, I just wanted a quick fix that required the minimum effort possible on my part.
Delusional would’ve been a compliment. I was damn lifeless.
I found out that you can fantasize about motivation, positive outcomes and some other crap as much as you want, but at the end of the day it’s all on you.
Finding time to apply whatever it is you learn is at least as equally important as the actual lesson. This is real in life as it is in any other area. Reading and learning is barely half the job.
I’ve read the book once more recently, this time around with a different mindset and spirit and, most importantly, with the eagerness to put into practice everything I was about to absorb on a theoretical level: for that reason, seeing utterly better results, on a personal note, hasn’t been a surprise at all.
Specifically, there’s one part of the book that stuck with me. It is a segment that focuses on “Seven Ways To Cultivate A Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace And Happiness”, and it is full of lessons (most of them applied) that definitely improved the quality of my life, even though it’s still a work in progress. They include:
- “Our life is what our thoughts make it”.
As Carnegie himself says, our mind is the X factor that determines our fate, and it has a profound effect on our cognitive and even physical abilities.
The right way to establish positive imagery in our minds is through actions. It will be complicated at first, but as the great William James observed, “Action seems to follow feeling […] and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not”.
In a nutshell, I’m happy because I sing, and not the other way around.
I’m happy because I’m engaging in an activity that brings me pleasure and happiness. As a result, even though I might not be happy initially, my actions send a different message to my subconscious, which is, in turn, obliged to act accordingly.
- Never waste a minute thinking about people you don’t like.
Let’s never try to get even with our enemies, because if we do we will hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them.
Easier said than done. I understand you.
But think about it for a second: hatred is like drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die.
Can you remember a time where your hate led to something positive, or just made you feel better? Me neither.
Hatred has no benefits. It doesn’t improve your health, it doesn’t improve your days, it makes you lose sleep, and it also affects all of your relationships. And if you’re, to some degree, attached to any of these, you better stop spouting off negativity as soon as possible.
Try to change your perspective: replacing “hate-your-enemies” type of thinking with “love-your- enemies” seems like a drastic transition. But when you prioritize yourself and see the whole shift as “I love myself so much that nothing can hurt me”, then the magic will happen much faster.
- Have low expectations.
“It is natural for people to forget to be grateful; so, if we go around expecting gratitude, we are headed straight for a lot of heartaches”.
As human beings, we live for reciprocity. We want to share things, we want to be understood, and most importantly, we want to be recognized for what we accomplish, no matter how small or insignificant the feature may be.
But in this day and age, we’re more than ever distracted by the world around us that we seldomly recognize small things and acts of kindness. Getting so caught up in the daily routine results in us taking everything for granted and sacrificing relationships without even being aware of it.
Being happy means being ok with the way things are while pursuing what you want; accepting the fact that no one is always going to show up for you and that, most of the time, you’ll have to be your own savior. This holds true especially for relationships and external circumstances that aren’t under our direct control. For the other half, that is, circumstances that we can change, I think we should be way more demanding of ourselves. As a matter of fact, putting pressure on ourselves forces us to improve what we actually have the power to improve. The game is all about knowing the two spheres and making our decisions based on the degree of influence that we have. As Reinhold Niebuhr uttered long ago:
“ God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
- Count your blessings.
This is more similar to low expectations that it seems. Counting your blessings is essentially a byproduct of being happy with what you have, which stems from being grateful towards the things you do possess.
Is you health in check?
Do you still have both of your parents?
Do you have a job?
Are you a student?
Can you eat clean food?
We’ve all complained about silly stuff every once in a while, but here’s the takeaway: don’t take for granted what simply can’t be taken for granted. There’s a lot of people out there who’d be willing to pay dearly to be in your same position. Lack of gratefulness, as Carnegie explains, is probably one of the greatest tragedies on Earth; it has caused more misery than all the wars and diseases in history.
“You and I ought to be ashamed of ourselves. All the days of our years we have been living in a fairyland of beauty, but we have been too blind to see, too satiated to enjoy.”
- Find yourself and be yourself.
Jokes aside, we spend so much time trying to imitate others, be like them, and get them to like us, that we know them more than we know ourselves.
Have you ever set aside one hour fully dedicated to realizing how much potential you have? Trying to find out who you really are is the first step towards finding your meaning, your reason for being on this planet.
What would you want to accomplish? What type of people would you like to hang around? What food do you enjoy? What makes you happy?
When you start to separate yourself from the rest and you get to meet your real self on a deeper level, things will start to change, and, in a moment’s notice, decisions that seemed too difficult to make will become no-brainers; you’ll start to take more decisive and coherent steps towards living your best life based on the specific outcome that you’d like to attain.
Carnegie himself said that “there is no one else on Earth like you.”
Put yourself first and be your #1 priority; good things will follow.
- “When you have a lemon, make a lemonade.”
One of the main characteristics of human beings is our ability to adapt to pretty much any type of circumstance, turning a minus into a plus.
Beethoven, world-class composer and pianist, was deaf.
Helen Keller, both blind and deaf, went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree, becoming one of the most successful American writers of all times.
Ben Franklin, world-famous scientist, polymath, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, dropped out of school at age ten.
The list goes on and on. There’s countless stories of people who started out with nothing and ended up becoming massively successful. That’s because of our natural tendency of turning struggle into triumph; a quality that everyone possesses, yet only a handful of individuals fully applies.
As William Bolitho claimed:
“The most important thing in life is not to capitalize on your gains. Any fool can do that. The really important thing is to profit from your losses. That requires intelligence, and it makes the difference between a man of sense and a fool.”
- Become interested in others.
By far, one of the best ways to cure an ill and negative mind is to take to heart other people’s well-being and engage in good deeds on a regular basis.
We talked about it earlier: human beings strive for connection and attention. Even more than that, human beings strive for sincere and genuine connection and attention. Being genuine means acting from a place of spontaneity rather than duty; acting because you really care about others, instead of simply pretending that you do.
Leadership means being able to inspire others, and authentic listening is a skill that every leader worthy of that name has (or develops, for it is not congenital).
Focus on the person you’re talking to: his problem, his body language, his tone of voice. Get to know him by asking questions that address his current emotional state, all without one-upping him on anything. Remember that, as humans, we’re too self-centered, and since the majority’s goal is not to improve specific communication skills, chances are you’ll encounter a lot of people that are so focused on solving their own situations that they’ll barely care about the challenges and obstacles that you’re facing on your own. Don’t take it personally though; it’s just human nature.
Fine-tuned listening can also broaden your horizons and amplify your perspective on basically any topic, depending on the people with whom you engage. It can make you more intelligent, more approachable, and more adaptable to different environments. It’s really a non-negotiable.
Since we’re on the subject, I’m a human being too, so I crave attention and connection just like anybody else. Let me know, then, if this article inspired you in some way through a comment or a clap. Thanks!