Day 108. Count your blessings — not your geckos…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 108.  Tuesday, July 12, 2011
This morning my door bell rang at 9 am.  He’s here! 

I was excited to open the door and greet Batman / Superman / or whatever name this caped superhero goes by.  The more “common” name is exterminator. 

The badge on his uniform indicated his name was “Scott”.  He didn’t say much and he wasn’t smiling.  Nevertheless, I remained optimistic. 

He asked me if the salesperson had gone over the service agreement.

I mumbled, “not really.”

He proceeded to explain the contract and stood there at my door waiting for me to sign.

I looked at him puzzled. 

I said, “I’d prefer if you walk through my home first and explain what you will do.”

He walked in reluctantly. I began to explain my gecko woes.  He wasn’t interested. 

He told me I need to go buy sticky glue traps.    

I looked at him puzzled. 

He explained they don’t treat geckos. 

I debated with myself at this point.  He might not treat geckos—but he needs to focus on how they treat the geckos’ food source.  Spiders, for instance.  He has not done this. 

There was dead silence as I wrestled with my thoughts. 

I explained to Scott that the salesperson led me to expect a different service than what I was receiving.  I explained I would not need his service and led him out of my home.

I was fuming.  I was expecting a team effort in ridding my home of these stupid, tiny creatures that have invaded my garage and my mind.  I had imagined having fascinating discussions on geckos and wasps’ nests, and various other invaders that are inevitable as a homeowner. 

Instead I drove to Lowe’s Home Improvement and bought sticky glue traps.  As I reflected on how my time was wasted and how the exterminating service completely missed the mark, a thought occurred to me. 

In talking to the salesperson last week, she explained they’d inspect the house and find the points of entry for the geckos.  Over the weekend I found that point of entry.  It’s the water heater closet.  The builder did not seal this closet completely. 

If I hadn’t spoken to the salesperson I wouldn’t have discovered the problem in the water heater closet.  I was finally able to smile again. 

The Smiling Daffodil is now an exterminator.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings – not your troubles

While the exterminating service did not deliver what I expected I did my best to find the good in the experience.  I will be the first to admit it’s not always easy.  I really had to work hard at not chewing out Scott and the salesperson who called to follow-up with me.  But in the big picture—it’s not worth it. 

Do your best to focus on the good and you’ll live a happier life.

Day 87. I didn’t have to work hard to make lemonade. The law of averages served me well.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 87.  Monday, June 20, 2011
I was a bit confused when I looked at the time this morning.  It was 7 am.  I either woke up too early for the weekend or maybe I’ll be on time for work.  I had to look at the calendar to see what day it was.  Oh, it’s Monday… I decided to get up anyway.

As I was pulling out of my driveway I noticed my neighbors hadn’t put their trash bin out by the curb for trash pick up day.  I also noticed their trash bin was very full.  I debated whether I should do them a favor and put their trash bin out or just mind my own business.

I got out of my car and rolled their trash bin by the curb.

As I continued on my drive to work a very strange sequence of events happened. 

I say strange—because it was Monday. 

I received a very touching email from Anthony—an old friend of mine.  He thanked me for my blog and mentioned he shared it with his family on Father’s Day.  On Father’s Day!  If you read my Father’s Day blog post about my macaroni art project you’ll understand what Anthony’s email meant to me.  I thanked God for Anthony’s thoughtfulness, empathy and really excellent timing.  His last words alluded to the fact that he hopes I have an unusually good Monday.  I read that and thought—oh I hope you are right Anthony.  So far we are on a good track but I haven’t arrived at work yet.

I was making good time in my commute to work so I decided to stop by the grocery store to buy some macaroni and other food items to donate for a local food drive at my Starbucks.  Despite holding up the line at the grocery store—everyone was friendly towards me and smiling.  It was really bazaar.  Why is everyone so nice to me? 

Next I arrived at work on time.  That in itself is a monumental accomplishment.  I hesitantly showed my newest heart pillow creations to an associate.  She LOVED them.  I walked back to my office and thanked God.  This is all I wanted from her last week and I got it today.  Perhaps Anthony was right about this day.

Next I heard from my two guest bloggers—who really didn’t realize, expect or believe I was serious when I said their stories would be perfect for my blog.  I was stunned that neither one of them could recognize the value of their stories.  After we talked—they both agreed and seemed to be excited.  I sat and relished the idea that my dinky lemonade stand is now recruiting “employees” and “business” seems to be good. 

Even a coworker whom I haven’t gotten along with for quite some time now was showing me appreciation, kindness and encouragement today.

The day continued in this fashion.  Little pieces of good moments kept falling in my lap.   At the end of the day, encouraged by my associate—I experimented with a couple more sewing techniques.  I started yet another sewing project that is going to be ridiculously cute by the time I’m finished with it.  I don’t know what the finished project will be yet but believe it or not—I might try something other than a pillow.

As I was driving home along the tollway I thanked God for making an unusually good Monday. 

Recognize blessings among the clutter

As I was doing this—I glanced over and noticed the sky.  Despite the cluttered landscape with water towers, electric towers, buildings, highways and overpasses being built, you could see the sky was a dark blue with shades of pink along the horizon.  It was so stunning it was ridiculous.  “Dear God—what were you thinking when you made that sunset?  I hope I’m not the only one driving home that notices your handiwork.”

I took all sorts of detours on the drive home just to get photos of the sky. 

Sometimes you have to look for the good hidden among the clutter, stress and chaos of a day.  If you don’t put effort into it—you will miss out on opportunities to find happiness and fulfillment in the everyday. 

I realize I have rambled quite a bit here.  And like you I’m wondering if there’s a purpose to today’s blog.  (ha)  Of course there is!

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
Don’t worry about the past.
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
Use the law of averages to outlaw your worries. 

It sure feels like a great deal of last week was crummy—or at least the last few days.  I had to do some mental acrobatics to apply the Dale Carnegie principles. 

Today was the complete opposite. 

When you have a bad day, bad week, bad month, bad year… consider the law of averages.  Things will balance out.  You will have a good day, a good week, a good month, a good year. 

One way to ensure this—do your best not to dwell on the past (I know this is hard)… and also count your blessings (this one is easy).  Look for all the large and small blessings that come your way.  Take the time to appreciate these blessings.  Look for the good.  Maybe it’s a sunset.  Maybe it’s an encouraging email from a friend or perhaps it’s a patient cashier at a grocery store.  Maybe it’s doing a random act of kindness like putting your neighbor’s trash bin by the curb on trash day.  Or donating food for a food pantry.  The blessings and opportunities are there—you just have to recognize them and act upon them.

When you take these measures—you pretty much guarantee a more positive outlook on the day. 

– Thank you Anthony for pushing me in the right direction.

Housekeeping / Notes:
– Mark your calendars! 
Wednesday will be the debut of a very special guest blogger and friend.  I can’t wait for you to meet him through his story. 
–  Stop by the Archive / Pictorial section
if you missed a story or want to reread a past blog.
– Feedback / Suggestions / Comments: 
If you have ideas on how to improve the daffodil garden of blog stories let me know.  Also feel free to spread the love and share a link or two with family, friends, coworkers, etc. 

I know your time is valuable.  Thank you for reading my blog.

Day 61. Dale Carnegie’s principles prevent road rage.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 61.  Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The wonders of perspective.

I was driving home from work considering my blog options for the evening. I was thinking— no I can’t write about that instance quite the way I want to— I need to keep this blog family friendly. (it was a very frustrating day).  I grumble to myself.

The route I drive home is a long street that spans several cities.  It has synchronized lights pretty much the entire journey. As I crossed an intersection with a fresh green light, going 45-50 mph—I spotted unusual movement from the left side of the intersection. It couldn’t be, I thought. I verified my green light. I tap slowly on the brakes….then I stomp on the brakes and blared my horn like my life depended on it.

The unusual movement I noticed was a car that turned left on a red light… into my lane.  I was certain the accident was unavoidable.

I have no idea how I stopped just short of rear ending the car. 

I was so tempted to follow her and tell her exactly what I thought of her.  I came very close.  I slowed the car down and quickly weighed the options.
I decided not to escalate the moment any more than she had done with her carelessness. I instead focused on the miracle of not rear ending her while going 45-50 mph.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Count your blessings—not your troubles.
Pray.

Despite being so shaken and upset by the driver I was very quick to thank God for protecting me. I was lucky to have noticed her. It was a busy intersection. I was lucky there wasn’t a car behind me—because I could have been rear ended in the process of avoiding an accident. 

The idiot driver who ran the red light was lucky she didn’t hit traffic that was in front of her. 

So remember, as bad as a day may have been at work it could always be worse.  So count your blessings and don’t dwell on your troubles.  When you take this approach the hassles of the day take on an insignificant role and you are left to focus on the important aspects in your life.

Day 52. It takes talent to be disappointed with a continuous series of green lights during a Monday morning commute


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 52.  Monday, May 16, 2011
It was the usual dreaded Monday morning commute to work.  Except today I was blessed with very little traffic on the streets and nothing but green lights.  And it wasn’t even noon! Ha.

As I’m gracefully zipping through each green light—my iPhone beeped indicating I had an email.  Always curious I glanced quickly.  I was jolted.  It was from my friend Lucilla.

I was dying to read the email except I couldn’t—because as I mentioned—I had nothing but green lights.  There wasn’t a red light in sight. Of all things, I actually wanted a red light. What dreadfully ironic luck! 

When I finally got a red light and was able to reach a complete stop—I looked down and read the email—at least the first few sentences.  The darn red light turned green much too quickly.  But the first few sentences of the email startled me enough that it didn’t take long for the waterworks to come. 

I probably mumbled a prayer to God in the process—something like—“I didn’t see that one coming.  How’d you do that God?”

In this age of technology do kids pass "notes" anymore? My notes could be worth millions!

You see, my friend Lucilla wrote an email that only she could succeed at executing.  We have been friends since childhood.  Frankly, I had forgotten I still had friends from that long ago.  I think I have closed so many chapters that I forgot I was a kid at some point.  But the thing is—her words and descriptions and memories were a bright ray of sunshine I had long forgotten.  I get so caught up with disappointments and frustrations that I do not remember the positive.  I am certain I would have probably reached my 80th birthday and I would not have ever considered the past the way she presented it.  Her email is an extraordinary gift and one I will treasure.

The Dale Carnegie principle my friend reminded me to use:
Count your blessings – not your troubles.
Don’t worry about the past.

There are really two lessons I want you to take from this story.  Do your best to focus on the positive in your life.  And more importantly—take a chance and help a friend to count the blessings in their own life.  Sometimes a person just needs the benefit of a different perspective. 

Lucilla didn’t tell me I was an idiot for fixating on my troubles—in fact—it was probably far from her mind.  What she did do was highlight all the blessings in my life then and now.  How could I argue with her words?  I couldn’t. 

When you take this approach of helping someone realize their blessings—you can help transform their perspective for the better.  This can lead to a wonderful chain reaction for positive change.

Thank you “Lucilla” for giving me the gift of your perspective.  I am indebted to you.