Sharing Happiness

The Optimist Creed continues . . .

‘To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are your own.’

Years ago, a salesman named Dale Carnegie wrote a blockbuster best seller, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’  Intended as a management tool, Carnegie’s pithy how-to’s have been applied to every area of life. Among others, Carnegie’s maxims include: “Smile: this tells people you are happy to see them,” “If you want to become interesting, be interested in others,” and best of all, the caution that when dealing with others, we are dealing with fragile, emotional and illogical people.

Oddly, Carnegie was silent on the topic of envy. Why? Because, I figure, if a person adopted the tools suggested in the book, they would become confident and serene enough in themselves to recognize and avert attacks of jealousy.

‘Envy is the art of counting another’s blessings instead of your own.’ – Harold Coffin

Exercise: Has someone you know achieved a goal or dream you wish for yourself? Take 15 quiet minutes and write your feelings about this. Why do you want this thing? What could you do to get it? How could you release yourself from this feeling?

Look Up!

Continuing with the Optimist Creed . . .

‘To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.’

French microbiologist Louis Pasteur, who coined the theory of germs, once said that ‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’ Expect good, receive good.

Of course, not-good comes into all of our lives, but it is always counter balanced by an oversupply of good. I once knew an eighty year old man who had struggled with health problems for years, yet remained upbeat. What was his secret? “Every morning when I wake up,” he told me, “I’m hopeful and expectant.” He consciously searched for all the good he could find, and as a result he was a cheerful person and a joy to be around.

This isn’t rocket science, I know. Most of these little truisms are just plain common sense. Still, isn’t it a wonder that common sense is so often overlooked?

Exercise: I like to write, draw or paint affirmations; it’s fun and I find the meaning of the words often come through in unique ways. In your writing time, try making a little poster of these words in your journal or notebook. You can embellish in any way you like.

The Sunny Side of the Street

The Optimist Creed continues . . .

‘To look on the sunny side of everything, and make your optimism come true.’

Every situation in life is really two different situations, says Eleanor Hicks, a Law of Attraction speaker and metaphysical author. It’s like picking up a stick. Every stick we pick up has two ends; a positive and a negative. We can choose which end of the stick to focus.

Our minds are marvelous mechanisms. Through the use of imagination and thought, we skew events, situations and the behavior of others into channels that are familiar. If we’ve been raised in a negative atmosphere, or are generally a more moody person overall, the negative end of the stick will win out every time. Those who are blessed with a more positive temperment may naturally reach for optimism, but all of us can probably learn to be more accepting that good is just as real – and just as likely – as bad.

Exercise: Select a situation that you have consistently view in a negative light. (C’mon, we all have one). Take 15 minutes and list ten positive things about that situation. Tip: You don’t even have to believe in the positive things, just be willing to list them.

Looking for the Good

Continuing with the Optimist Creed . . .

‘To make all your friends feel there is something in them.’

The pioneer of positive thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, was a minister in New York City for more than 50 years. He came into his position through a fluke. One of the pastors at Marble Collegiate Church was ill and couldn’t preach the Sunday sermon, so a newcomer – Peale – was appointed at the last minute.

He stayed for 52 years, and under his leadership, the church grew from 300 to 3,000 at the weekly services.

What was his secret? Peale once said in an interview that he collected ‘people, not things.’ He believed that every person had the spark of the Divine inside, and in his dealings with others he communicated with that inner part.

I’ve read most of his books, some over and over, beginning with The Power of Positive Thinking, and have never failed to find inspiration and a refreshing dose of optimism within the pages. Peale wasn’t afraid to sound Pollyannaish; he knew that there were plenty of folks out there willing to criticize, and few who would look for the good in others and encourage it. I never met Peale, but he is a role model to me!

Exercise: The only way to have a friend is to be a friend, it’s said. Find a quiet time and a blank page and write about one of your friends. What is in them that you most appreciate and value? Often, our closest friends mirror the good qualities we possess.

Bullets or Seeds

The Optimist Creed continues . . .

‘To talk health, happiness and prosperity to everyone you meet.’

Baptist pastor Gary Chapman, author of Five Love Languages, wrote another book to express his respect for the power of words. In Love as a Way of Life, Chapman describes words as ‘bullets’ or ‘seeds.’

Using words to harm, punish, manipulate or defame is like shooting bullets, not only at others, but into our own consciousness. Most people know instinctively that what goes around, comes around. We all pay the price for our own words, in one way or another.

Words that are kind plant seeds of growth and can repair fractured relationships, with ourselves and others. It seems that even our cells know the difference. Harsh or angry words cause a constriction in the body, while kind words, even in harsh situations, bring healing and calm.

This doesn’t mean negative or difficult situations have to be avoided. But if the intention is to bring health instead of harm, great things can follow.

Perhaps Thumper had it right all along. In the movie Bambi, Thumper passed along this gem to his deer friend. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Exercise:  Find 15 quiet minutes, and write about a recent conversation you had with a friend, partner, or even the clerk at the store. Are there clues there as to your conversational style? Do you remember what you said? If you could speak differently, what would you say?


The Optimist Creed

Have you heard of the Optimist Creed? Originally titled “Promise Yourself,” and published in 1912 by Christian D. Larson, a pioneer in motivational thought, this simply worded meditation has been used by the Optimists International as a mission statement for almost 100 years.

A friend passed this along to me last year and I liked it so much I decided to memorize it. I’ve found it a great source of inspiration, and hope you do too.

There are ten parts to the creed and today starts a series of each section. Our minds like to be fed, so why not give them something positive to chew on?

Promise Yourself: To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

Strength doesn’t come prepackaged like a TV dinner; one zap and you’re done. Instead, it’s built over time through a series of small actions. If my primary intention is peace of mind, and I keep this idea in the forefront by remembering this simple phrase, chances are I’ll have more instances of choosing peace over conflict or chaos.

Exercise: If you’re a morning writer, reflecting on this phrase first thing will help set the tone for the day. Simply writing this as an affirmation, then following with a few thoughts, is enough. If you write at night, this is a helpful prompt to reviewing the day. When did you choose peace? When did conflict or chaos win?

Clothes Tell a Story

What do our closets say about us?

That’s a question posed by professional organizer Judi Culbertson, author of Scaling Down: Living Large in a Smaller Space.’

Whether we are a slave to fashion, a non-shopper or a ‘uniformer’ who wears the same style year in and year out, clothes broadcast a statement. About who we are. What we do. And what’s important to us.

Most of us know that we wear only 20 percent of the clothes we own (unless we are like Mother Teresa, who died leaving only a bed, chair and blue sweater behind). So why do we hang on to the other 80 percent? And, more importantly, why did we acquire these things in the first place?

Taking an inventory of our closets leads to some interesting conclusions. I finished reading this book and began streamlining my clothes right away. It felt good to let go of things that weren’t ‘me’ or had outlived their usefulness.

Exercise: Stand in front of your closet and select three of your favorite pieces of clothing, ones you wear again and again. Then, select three that you know you never seem to want to wear. Put them to one side, and then go to your journal and write about these items.  Aim for three pages.