Day 100. I visited a friend who would have been 103 years old this year….

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 100.  Monday, July 4, 2011
This morning I woke up not sure how I’d spend the day.  It’s a holiday— and this time I don’t have to work.  What am I going to do with myself? I decided to focus on creating happiness for others.

I missed my friend’s anniversary last month at the cemetery.  He’s buried minutes from where I work but somehow I chose not to find the time to visit.  So today I decided I’d go visit him.  I contemplated the perfect flowers to take to his grave—perhaps a couple bouquets of the passion flower vine from my garden… but they really don’t keep well.  I decide to pick something up at a grocery store along the way. 

Well… I missed my exit for Albertson’s so I ended up at a nearby Fiesta grocery store.  I spotted the florist section where they had the standard selection of roses and carnations. 

Not the typical bouquet of flowers in a cemetery but that's why I like it.

I realize the man I am visiting is deceased—that he’d be 103 years old if he was alive—and odds are he doesn’t care about flowers.  Nevertheless he must have the most attractive flowers in the cemetery.  I spotted a bundle of flowers I’ve never seen in a florist at Albertsons—Bird of Paradise. It was exotic and beautiful.  Before I fell in love with them I checked the price. Nice! They are cheaper than carnations and roses.  Sold!

I made it to the cemetery with Bird of Paradise flowers in hand.  I don’t think anyone has visited my friend and his wife in awhile.  The vase for the flowers was buried and there was some grass that was a little overgrown around the grave marker.  I said a few words and offered some prayers.  It was over 100 degrees today—I was dripping by the time I was finished.

I finished and gazed at all the tombstones and cemetery markers.

It’s really unfathomable that all these tombstones and grave markers represent people that have gone before us and this is only one cemetery.  I was grateful for the opportunity to stop by, perspire a whole lot and be reminded of what’s important.  I’m sure my friend is in heaven by now and his cup is full—but I figured by trying to bring happiness to him somehow I’d get a new perspective.  It worked.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.
Count your blessings not your troubles.

My lesson to you—the best way to prevent complaining, pity parties or complete boredom on a day off is to focus on someone else.  I found an unusual someone else to focus on.  By honoring the memory of my deceased friend I was able to shift my focus completely.  I was now appreciative for this day off and was able to enjoy the day far more.  When you take this approach you are in a better frame of mind to count your blessings both large and small.  The troubles that weighed you down don’t seem quite as heavy anymore. 

Housekeeping / Notes
Thanks for reading my blog!  It makes my day to see you have visited.

Day 62. I found an out of the box way to make someone smile and you can too!

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 62.  Thursday, May 26, 2011
Today a friend was having a stressful day.  I wasn’t sure how to help her.  She always helps me out when I have a bad day.  I need to do the same for her.

I decided to do my best to make her smile.  Hmm… what can I do to make her smile?  What can I say?  I wasn’t really sure.

That’s when I remembered my unusual hat that I happen to keep at the office.  It was the right color to match the shirt I was wearing.  Although I did just get a haircut that I wanted to show off—this hat is sure to bring a smile to my friend’s face.

I put it on in a very nonchalant way and just sat quietly working at my desk.  I knew my stressed friend was busy but I came up with a false pretense to visit her in her office.  She took one look at me and grinned.  I smiled back innocently….

You see, I was wearing mushrooms on my head. 

Mushroom Head!


I picked up this ‘special’ hat made of mushrooms in Budapest a few years ago.  It was so unusual I just had to have it.  Who knew it would come in handy to make someone smile? 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile. 

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.

My friend has been a reliable source for advice, a ready and sympathetic ear, a figurative punching bag, and countless other traits you could ever want in a friend.  While my help pales in comparison to what she has done for me—I want to do my best to help her when she is stressed.  I chose to help her in a very simple way—by making her smile. 

Remember, sometimes the smallest of actions can bring a smile to a person’s face—and this may be all that a person needs to refocus his/her attention and to lighten his/her burdens even for just a moment.  When you take the time to create happiness for others—you benefit by being able to enjoy the smile you helped create.

Day 43. Twinkies on an ordinary day are meaningless to me but not on this day

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 43.  Saturday, May 7, 2011
I woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of the hustle and bustle of my best friend’s busy household.  She and her husband have 7 children. 

I decided it was the appropriate time to open my suitcase and surprise the children with the goodies I frantically purchased a few days before the trip.  The children, always curious when Miss Smiling Daffodil opens her suitcase, stood by, watching in anticipation.

I apologized to my friend for bringing junk food in the house.  The children squealed with delight.  “Twinkies!  Don’t show dad the Twinkies otherwise he’ll eat them all!”

At lunchtime the box of Twinkies was brought out.  Fortunately, there were enough Twinkies for everyone.  (A minor detail I forgot when it comes to big families)

The children unwrapped the cellophane and ate their special treat that “Miss Smiling Daffodil brought them all the way fromTexas.”  I sat there eating my Twinkie watching with fascination.  A box of Twinkies on an ordinary day means nothing to me.  But today I watched with pleasure how Twinkies made 7 little children smile.

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
–  Create happiness for others.

Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to create happiness for others.  And when you do create happiness—whether it’s with a box of Twinkies, lending a helping hand or sharing your time—you get far more in return. You get the satisfaction of knowing your efforts brought about a smile.

Day 41. Someone used a Dale Carnegie principle on me… and it worked!

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 41.  May 5, 2011
As I walked into the office, I was very tempted to growl, grumble or at the very least mumble at anyone that dared talk to me first thing in the morning.  I have too much to do and not enough time. 

But as I walked to my desk I was thrown off.  There was a plate on my desk… with quiche! 

The way to my heart... or at least a happier morning

Apparently—the way to my heart is my stomach.  (Odds are nearly all of you are aware of this detail by now).  My mood lightened and I thanked my co-worker for generously making one of the world’s best quiches for me to enjoy. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I applied toward my co-worker is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.

The Dale Carnegie principle my co-worker employed on me is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.

I sat down at my desk admiring the features of the delicious and very unexpected breakfast.  It was warm—which means my co-worker had to time things just right with my arrival.  It was homemade— not something that came out of a box from the freezer.  It had a flaky crust, fluffy eggs and ham.  Yummy!  Once I considered all these points—I was able to thank my co-worker in an appropriate, sincere way.

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can ease the tension of a difficult or stressful day.  Look for opportunities to do this for your coworkers and you will create a happier more productive environment.  Also be aware and appreciative when people are considerate enough to do the same for you.

Day 36: How Dale Carnegie made today’s 5K run more interesting.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

 Day 36.  April 30, 2011
As I was driving this morning I was listening to the theme song from the “Rocky” movie.  I was feeling confident.  I was wearing my favorite running ensemble—black shorts, black shirt, black hair band.  I not only looked good.  I was ready to rumble.  Not that this was a boxing match. It was a 5K run. 

They sounded the buzzer and we were off and running.  I kept a steady pace—I didn’t want to burn out in the first half of the race.  I turned on my iPod and pretended I was at the gym running on my favorite treadmill.  I pretended so well, I got some runners turning around looking at me and smiling. 

You see—I sing when I run on the treadmill.  I don’t sing because I sing well.  I sing because it gives me something to focus on.  Lyrics in songs fuel my engine for running.  Not slow, sappy songs—we’re not strolling in the park.  I like songs with energy, gusto and passion—and if there’s some angst thrown in—that’s a bonus because that makes me run faster. 

To help me run I planned on focusing on a distinct bad day from last year.  I take particular delight in making lemonade out of rotten days.  But today was different.  I had a smile on my face as I ran and sang.  My fingers danced in the wind.  I pretended I was wearing a Superman cape and I was flying like the wind. 

There were bystanders along the way cheering us on.  They were holding signs and banners—with words of encouragement like “Keep going!”  I smiled and gave everyone a thumbs as I passed by.  Not sure how—but the encouragement of random strangers fueled me to continue. 

I decided I’d be a smiling, running ambassador for Dale Carnegie’s principle number 5 as I passed everyone by. 

The run is basically a circle—you end where you began.  When I was more than halfway through the race I crossed paths with a LONG line of people who were walking the race.  I was heading back as they were still progressing through the race.  I wasn’t sure how it was technically possible that they were that far behind.  I imagined what they were thinking—geesh—there are people that are almost finished? 

I did my best to make eye contact with them as I smiled and gave them a thumbs up.

As I neared the end, there was a couple—an older man and woman who were the very last ones in the race.  They were walking slowly.  The man was a bit overweight. 

I looked at them and said—“You can do it!” as I ran by them. 

I can put food away!

Now, you have to understand that at this point in the race—yesterday’s very large taco dinner was still settling in my stomach.  I wasn’t feeling my best.  But somehow focusing on other racers and the bystanders gave me strength to continue.  I kept telling myself—I’ve got this.  I’ve got this.  I’ve done this before—I will do this again.  Period.

When I could see the finish line—I went full speed.  I pretended I was stepping on a gas pedal in a car—I ran like I meant it.  As I did this I remembered what my friend Esteban-the-Gym-Rat told me the evening before:  “remember, they take your picture as you cross the finish line—so you want to finish big—with a smile and your game face.  Some people cross the finish line—crying and vomiting—that’s not the photo you want hanging over the mantle in your living room.”

A winning smile.

I crossed the finish line with a beaming smile. 

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 5.  Smile.
Principle 22. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.

I focused my attention on other people as I ran.  I showed my appreciation for the bystanders who were cheering us on.  I encouraged other participants in the race as I passed them by.  When I did this—I was distracted from my own concerns of – will I finish this race?  Will I come in under 30 minutes?  Will my foot start hurting? And is my stomach going to explode from that very extensive taco dinner I had last night? 

So, remember, there’s a real benefit to creating happiness for others—your words and actions can affect them in a positive way at just the right time and you are able to distract yourself from your own troubles.  Everyone wins! 

Special thanks to “Esteban-the-Gym-Rat” for his coaching advice—including tips on focusing on the horizon, proper ways to tie the shoe laces and the importance of hydration.  You made me feel like an “official athlete”—I felt important. 

Thanks to my friend “Jewel” who reminded me a week ago I could take some time off from the gym to prepare for the big race without my gym routine crashing into disgraceful oblivion.

Thank you “Dr. House” my gym trainer who knows just the right things to say that click in my head—like—“Gym Rat, of course you’ll be ready for the run two months away.” 

Thank you to my buddy “Bell” who despite living clear across the planet—convinced me to go to bed early so that I’d be well rested for the race. Sometimes the obvious isn’t always so!

Be sure to read Friday’s blog post—the photo will bring you a smile.
Don’t forget about the open invitation to be a contributing writer to this 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie principles blog.  You will approach life with an improved perspective.  What a deal!

Day 34. Living the Dale Carnegie principles leads to meals better than SPAM

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 34.  April 28, 2011
A couple months ago I heard some disturbing news at work about “Samantha”, one of our customers.  Samantha was on her way to overnight a package to me—when she received news that her husband was in a near fatal motorcycle accident. 

Samantha’s husband wasn’t wearing a helmet.  You can use your imagination when thinking about what happens when a person hits the pavement while riding fast on a motorcycle. He received incredible injuries to his face and head.  He nearly lost his eye.

What do you say to a customer whose husband is in the ICU?  What do you say when you don’t really know this customer other than through email?  Well, at the time, I was enrolled in the Dale Carnegie course.  So I did my best to respond—I was super awkward but sincere.

I didn’t know her faith, her religion, her values or beliefs.  I really didn’t know her—other than I work with her on specific projects via email. 

I didn’t want my email to be an empty, standard form-letter type of response.  I took a leap of faith and expressed my thoughts to her.  I told her I would pray for her and her husband. 

 And I did pray for them. 

A few weeks later she called me—we have never spoken on the phone.  She was apologetic for not sending the package!  I told her forget the package—how’s her husband?  We talked for a bit and I took a brave leap into the unknown by telling her I would continue to pray for her and her husband.

I continue to check in on her at random times—by sending emails with subject lines:  “Just checking in.”  I begin my emails by saying, “I saw a motorcyclist the other day and thought of your husband.  How is he doing?”  There is a definite clumsiness about my emails—they are short but friendly—and on familiar terms—as if I have known her for years – despite the fact I wouldn’t know her in a crowd.  When I proof my emails to her before pressing “Send” I think geesh—I look like a novice trying to come off human and warm.  I hit send anyway and hope I didn’t say something stupid. 

And each time she responds back—so grateful to hear from me (of all people!) Honestly—I’m not sure who is touched more by this exercise in humanity—me or her. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Create happiness for others.

Sometimes it’s a real stretch to create happiness for someone else—especially a stranger—because it requires you to put yourself in the vulnerable position of being human and caring.  It is not easy.  I know it!  But when you take this chance and give of yourself – you find a different sort of happiness.  It’s not a shallow or brief moment of happiness.  It’s genuine and rich. 

Is there really a need for a caption?

I love food analogies—so it’s like having prime rib instead of SPAM.