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 98. As long as I bring a smile I bet I can get away dressing like this everywhere


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 98.  Saturday, July 2, 2011
I got dressed this morning—with one objective—to survive the 100+ degree weather.  I found a pair of shorts, t-shirt and my favorite pair of brown sneakers.  I like the sneakers because they are comfy, they are brown and they are the closest thing to “cool” I can get.  But I admit—with shorts—I look a bit like a 12 year old especially with the sneakers. I considered swapping out shoes—my running shoes—but they are strictly for the gym. 

“I am who I am” I think to myself as I look at myself in the full length mirror. 

I look a bit sloppy—considering I’m an adult.  But I’m only going to the movies.

I drove to the movies.  I ordered a small bag of popcorn (this is the main reason I like the movies).  I smiled and thanked the cashier.  He returned with a genuine smile.  He did not have the glazed over, I-have-to-be-courteous-even-though-I-don’t-want-to-be look.  His behavior was sincere.

I handed my movie ticket to the attendant and smiled and chatted with him.  He too returned with a genuine smile. 

As I walked down the hall toward where the movie was being shown—I couldn’t help but smile.  I proved my sloppy attire had nothing to do with how I would be treated.  I was friendly, made eye contact and smiled at the people I encountered.  Nothing else mattered.  Not even my t-shirt, shorts and brown sneakers. 

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

My lesson to you—try smiling and making eye contact with the people you encounter in your day to day life.  You will be amazed by the reactions you receive and life will be more interesting.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Catch up on previous blog posts by clicking here.
Learn how you can become a guest blogger by clicking here.
Read the most recent guest blog post by Tyrone by clicking here.

Day 97. A method you can implement to help you “count your blessings – not your troubles”


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 97.  Friday, July 1, 2011
I was driving home from work—I was mentally drained.  Half the staff took the day off today since it’s the Friday leading to the 4th of July weekend.

Those of us that had to work had a busy day.  I had a marketing campaign to launch.  Plus I had invoicing to complete and a variety of marketing projects to plan. 

My commute is about 30 miles and I tend to think too much during that time.  Several friends are on vacation.  I haven’t taken a vacation in quite some time. 

You can see where my thoughts were going….

I decided to focus on counting my blessings instead of my troubles.  And to do this effectively I chose a random letter of the alphabet and tried to name off my traits, qualities and blessings that matched the letter.

Example:  the letter “T”
I have tenacity

Example:  the letter “C”
I am good at making cookies
I have courage.
A friend of mine said recently I was cute.

Example:  the letter “D”
I am disciplined.
I can appreciate delicious food. (I am convinced not everyone does)

Example:  the letter “S”
I made two shirts that my peers really liked.

Example:  the letter “G”
I am the godparent to my friend’s baby boy.

You get the idea.  While it seemed a bit childish or perhaps self-serving—it was a positive mental exercise.  Coming up with words became an interesting puzzle to focus on during the very long commute.  It also reminded me that no matter what I think—I am blessed and should be grateful for every gift no matter how insignificant.

 By the time I made it home my entire outlook improved.

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

My lesson to you—if you find yourself feeling down or disappointed about your circumstances or your station in life—take a very proactive approach to changing your outlook.  Identify your blessings in a very specific way as I did.  By doing this—you spend your time thinking about the positive rather than what you don’t have or your troubles.  The outcome—you’ll feel a lot better.

Day 93. A visit to Starbucks reminded me to dust off some Dale Carnegie principles….


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 93.  Monday, June 27, 2011
This morning a friend of mine, “Melanie” announced she was engaged.  This piece of news threw me off—and not for the reasons you might suspect. 

I am a detail-oriented person.  I like to fit puzzle pieces together. 

Instead of jumping up and down or smiling ear to ear—I was struck by the irony.  I had just visited some friends two days ago.  They asked about Melanie and if she was engaged or married yet.  This is not a common topic of discussion so the timing of these events was fascinating to me.  But understand—all of these ponderings were going on in my head. 

On the bright side I did have the decency to smile and congratulate my friend. 

Somehow we got completely off topic and after ten minutes we had covered a variety of topics—none of which had to do with the engagement or the wedding. 

Later that morning I was standing in line at my favorite little coffee shop.  I was thinking about my friend’s engagement.  I realized I probably messed up with my low key reaction. I’m not the type to jump up and down with excitement – yet I felt bad that I didn’t for my friend’s sake.  I didn’t have 101 questions about the wedding—mainly because I was too focused on the irony that she was a recent topic of discussion.

Yummy cake pops from Starbucks.

I tried to see things from my friend’s perspective.  The fact that she told me immediately this morning indicated this was at the top of her list.  I wanted to find a way to make the day special for her. I decided to order a special pastry at Starbucks—something I order only on important occasions or when I really have a bad day….

I returned to the office with a cellophane bag with the special pastry.  My friend looked at me and asked, “what’s this?”

I replied, “this is a cake pop from Starbucks to celebrate your engagement.”

She smiled and thanked me. 

Later that afternoon Melanie said to me, “Wow! This pastry tastes great!”

I said—”so glad you liked it.  I joked with her saying I got the “Birthday Cake” version even though I know you prefer chocolate.  I just couldn’t bear to buy the “Rocky Road” cake pop to celebrate your engagement.  I wouldn’t want to jinx your marriage!”

Melanie smiled and said, “good thinking.”

The Dale Carnegie principles I usually forget to use is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 9.  Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
Principle 4.  Become genuinely interested in other people. 

When I realized my lack of enthusiasm and excitement for my friend I felt really bad.  I’m not a naturally boisterous, outspoken individual—nor am I the touchy, feely, hugging type.  I’m more the over-thinking, detail-oriented, stoic type.  But this engagement is a milestone for my friend and should be celebrated.  I did what I could in a sincere way to celebrate her day.  It wasn’t just a cake pop—it was the right cake pop for the occasion—a cake pop to celebrate my friend entering a new stage in her life—while also leaving rocky roads with challenging relationships where they belong… in the past. 

So my lesson to you—yes, there is one somewhere in this story…

There is a way to be yourself while also becoming interested in other people and making them feel important.  If you are anyone but yourself—neither of these two principles will work because your words and actions won’t be sincere.  When you take this approach you will find people will not only accept you, your quirks and imperfections—they will be drawn to you—because of your sincere interest in them. 

I hope this makes sense. 

Housekeeping / Notes
Mark your calendars!  This Wednesday is Guest Blogger Wednesday! 
If you missed last Wednesday’s guest blog post by Esteban, here’s your chance to catch up.  Click here.

If you’ve been busy or are new to the blog, I have a handy archives section set up for you to catch up on past blog posts.  Click here.

Day 89. It took 10 years for me to figure this out. Learn from my mistakes.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 89.  Thursday, June 23, 2011
You might remember the Day 81 entry where I sewed the most fabulous pillow because Seth and Stefano gave me the encouragement to try.  Well a lot has happened since then….

Feed the Fire of Enthusiasm

I am up to 6 finished pillows, 2 pillows-in-progress and a potential wall hanging….This does not include the projects in my mind that are just bursting for the opportunity to come to life….I guess you could say I am the mad scientist of sewing… or at least pillow making.  Even the other night I had a dream I sewed myself into a pillow….

My enthusiasm led me to approach my associate Roberta, who was buried with a pile of paperwork this afternoon. 

Smiling Daffodil:
“Excuse me Roberta, before today is over will you show me how to sew this fancy yarn and cording?”

Roberta:
“Oh my!  Yes I will!  Your grandmother would be so jealous of me, Smiling Daffodil!  I’ll be happy to show you.”

So this evening once our regular boring “office” work was complete, Roberta pulled out the special sewing machine foot for sewing yarns and other specialty fibers.  Roberta had a very long, stressful day yet she was eager to teach me this new sewing technique. 

She shared tips and invited me to use any of her specialty yarns and fibers.  (Her willingness to let me use any of her materials always stuns me.  She never says you can use this material but not that.  Or here, use this cheap, ugly material—the other material is too expensive for you to use.)

She was absolutely enthusiastic and excited to teach me.  As I listened to Roberta, I couldn’t help but think of Dale Carnegie’s principles.  I didn’t set out to use a principle but somehow I unlocked the magic of a particular principle:

From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 4.  Become genuinely interested in other people.

I had taken the time to become interested in sewing—and what really made the difference is that I involved Roberta in this process.  By taking interest and asking Roberta for help, advice and tips—both parties got what they wanted.  I wanted to learn some new techniques, feel creative and succeed in my sewing endeavors.  She got to share her expertise with me.  She got to feel important. 

The outcome is greater than meets the eye. 

I am happy because I get to create.  I am also happy because she sees I am happy.  (Actually, the entire building senses my explosion of happiness and benefits from it).

She is happy because she gets to teach an associate—she gets to feel important.  She is also happy because she sees me happy.  (Actually, the entire building benefits from this).

The bigger picture is a happier work environment, greater productivity and greater profitability.  

So remember, although you might be capable of learning something on your own through trial and error—sometimes it serves everyone’s interests if you ask for help from an expert.  More often than not—someone is willing to teach you—they derive their feeling of importance by being considered an expert.  You get the benefit of learning how to do something the right way.  The result is relationship building, discovering new opportunities for making money and more importantly your own happiness.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Don’t forget to read this week’s guest blog post by my buddy Esteban.  I think his blog demonstrates the great opportunity parents have to teach their children.  Click here to read.

Day 85. Put your heart into a task and you’ll benefit from the outcome


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 85.  Saturday, June 18, 2011
I was listening to the radio on Friday and heard the forecast for Saturday was 104 degrees.  Yikes.  I decided the best thing to do was take cover from the heat. So I ended up at the office. 

You might remember my blog earlier this week about a pillow

The outcome of that pillow: 
Seth, Stefano and many other individuals loved the pillow.  I was truly touched. 

At the very end of the day I received “acknowledgement” for the pillow I made by the one person I desperately wanted attention from.  It hurt. 

In my heart I knew the moral of the story was simply to live Dale Carnegie’s principle:  “expect ingratitude.”  I do my best for myself and no one else. 

So today… my plan was to make another pillow—something entirely different.  It’s a bit ironic because I fled this office on Friday to have lunch just to get away from the building.  Now I was voluntarily going to spend my Saturday afternoon at this office to sew. 

Well—I made a mess of the entire sewing studio.  When I do a task I’m very…enthusiastic.  I put my heart into it.

Love what you do

The outcome of my afternoon… this heart pillow I made for my dad for Father’s Day.  (Granted being the marketer that I am—I will give it to him and take it back so I can use it for some marketing pieces.  Dear old dad will get the pillow back eventually….)

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.
Do the very best you can.

I created a pillow today not for the purpose of gaining approval, recognition or appreciation from the one person that denied it to me last time.  Instead I made it because I know I am capable and I loved making it.

My advice to you—pursue your interests whole-heartedly and don’t worry what other people think.  When you take these measures, you are true to yourself and the results of your effort will shine.

Housekeeping / Notes:
Daffodils fade but fortunately for you my blog posts don’t!  Be sure to check the archives / pictorial gallery for your favorite blog post or to catch up on what you missed.  Click to view.

Day 82. I had 8 blog topics to choose from… so what happened?


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

 Day 82.  Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This day was jam packed with opportunities to use Dale Carnegie principles. I had so much blog material I made notes throughout the day so I wouldn’t forget. I even bragged to my friend at work that I can’t keep up with production—business is booming with too many blogs to write.  By the end of the day I had eight blog topics to choose from—a new world record.  (Usually I have at least two stories to choose from)

Surprisingly, as I sat to write earlier this evening I was struggling.  I wrote two drafts just for one of the blog topics and neither draft was any good.  Too much chatter and details—you’d fall asleep with what I wrote! 

How can I have eight fabulous topics and not be able to write them well? That’s when I realized the problem.  It’s that pesky principle from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Rest before you get tired.

For once I was not worried about topics when I sat down to write.  Yet—my mind just couldn’t come up with anything coherent—despite having lived the day’s events. (it might have something to do with the fact that I was up until 3 am on Wednesday)

I have to keep reminding myself that rest is important—otherwise my efforts become futile.  This is not an easy task for me!  Even now as I type this I see it as a fake blog.  Yes, it’s 3:30 am.  But in my mind I can and should just dig my heels in deep and figure out how to write the best blog from the 8 topics I came up with.  Yet, I am also aware that I did try… and it didn’t work.   GRRRRRRR!

So remember, work actually does become easier with the proper amount of rest—both physical and mental rest.  Odds are I will struggle with this one for the entire duration of the blog….

I was discussing this challenge with a friend we will call the Tofu Fairy.  He said something very brave and very true about me.  I am stubborn.  Let’s hope that I can figure out how to harness my stubbornness in such a way that I do rest before I get tired and not feel like I have to apologize for it.

Day 80. My interpretation of Dale Carnegie’s principle: “Do the very best you can”


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 80.  Monday, June 13, 2011
I went to bed early on Sunday night.  I had a big day ahead of me.  I couldn’t sleep—I prayed Monday would go well.  What am I getting myself into having dinner with a friend whom I haven’t seen in years?  She’s made a remarkable life for herself.  And me?  How will this reunion turn out? 

Then I woke up stressed this morning.  What do I wear?  My favorite jeans are too faded and I can’t find a decent pair of shoes. 

I reminded myself that I am who I am and odds are my friend is exactly as I remember her.  That’s the reason I agreed to meet with her after all these years anyway. 

I left work at 5 pm to make my 6:45 pm dinner.  I underestimated rush hour traffic.  I had hoped to go home and freshen up but realized there wasn’t time. 

It was 100 degrees today.  I was a hot, sticky, oily mess.  What is this friend of mine going to think of me?  After all these years… and I still look like this?  To save time I went to Target to pick up some makeup and a face wash.  I scrubbed my face so hard it was red and the blemishes were bleeding.  ARGH.

I applied the newly purchased makeup.  It was for someone with fairer skin than mine.  I looked white as a ghost when I applied the makeup.  ARGH.

I was running out of time and now look at me… and now I might be late for dinner. I should have just gone home to freshen up instead….

I made it to the restaurant, patted down my messy hairdo and consoled myself—this is as good as it gets.  I am who I am.  I carried my humble plastic container with homemade cookies into the restaurant—not really sure if cookies are appropriate. 

What caption could possibly fit this photo? Fresh out of dignity!

When my friend walked in—all my absurd fears and concerns vanished.  She was the same person I remembered from the 5th grade.  We looked at each other, gave each other big smiles—and marveled at how we looked like our mothers. 

Our meals were served and frankly we could have eaten cardboard or dirt and I would have been happy.  The hours passed as if they were minutes as we talked and listened to each other’s stories. 

I had planned at least 2 other blog topics today but when I sat down to write the blogs they just weren’t captivating enough.  That’s when I realized the only story appropriate for today is the one of me finding my childhood friend. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used today is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Do the very best you can.

You might think this is an odd principle to attach to this story.  Let me explain.  I decided that doing the very best I can means being myself.

I wasn’t going to pretend to be something beyond my current station in life.  I work hard, I have a lot of passion for what I do—but my world isn’t anything particularly glamorous or prestigious. 

I didn’t get dressed up—not out of disregard for her—but really—I hate getting dressed up.  I was myself:  blemishes, messy hair, jeans, t-shirt and sneakers.  Judging by how quickly time passed with smiles, genuine conversation and laughter—we both did our very best by being ourselves… and it worked. 

So remember, quit trying to be someone you are not.  Be comfortable and proud of who you are.  When you take this approach you’ll find life is more fulfilling, people around you are far more interesting than you could ever imagine and the people worth knowing see beyond the superficial. 

 – Thank you ‘Lucilla’.

Day 70. A trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles is the perfect setting for using Dale Carnegie’s principles


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 70.  Friday, June 3, 2011

I was at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office waiting to get my Driver’s License renewed.  A chair became available in the second row so I sat down beside a young ‘lady’ we will call “Suzie”.

I quickly observed Suzie and her friend Camille were criticizing everyone.  As number 154 was called, a tall teenage girl stood up with her father and two of her friends.  She stood in front of the white panel, got her photo taken etc.  While all of this was unfolding—Suzie and Camille—reminded me of why I love the Dale Carnegie principles.

Suzie:  “Why did that girl bring all these people with her?” 
Camille:  “They are high schoolers.  They have nothing better to do.”

They continued to criticize these individuals—who fortunately—weren’t anywhere near earshot of Suzie and Camille.

My thoughts on the tall girl being criticized:  “wow—that’s cute that her father came to “support” his daughter—it’s probably her 16th birthday.  Her friends are young, innocent and oblivious to the cruelty of people like “Suzie and Camille”.  Good for them.”

The Dale Carnegie principle I used is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Do not imitate others.

My experience sitting at the DMV reminded me of the great value of living the Dale Carnegie principles.  Despite the behaviors of Suzie and Camille—I managed to find the good in my surroundings.  I observed a father who cared enough to spend quite a bit of time waiting at the DMV with his daughter.  I saw his daughter’s friends who were comfortable in their skin.  They were young and happy.    

My lesson to you—don’t imitate others’ negativity.  Focus on creating your own happiness.  I guarantee you will come out ahead.

Housekeeping / Notes:
If you read Day 69 you may be wondering… did I follow through and take a half day off from work?  I did indeed!  I was encouraged to follow through by my friend Avery.

Day 69. I applied one of the more challenging Dale Carnegie principles today…


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 69.  Thursday, June 2, 2011
I stayed up pretty late Wednesday night.  There was a family dinner, my baking marathon, the gym, the blog, then some sleep.  I was proud of myself—I was able to swing everything. 

I even managed to get to work on time today. 

But then the day pretty much became a blur after that.  I was not focused.  Coworkers were talking to me but frankly I don’t remember what they were telling me.  I had no interest in anything.  I continued to work—but it was like pulling teeth trying to find my creativity.  On the drive home I couldn’t even think of a blog topic because I couldn’t remember anything about the day’s events.

When I got home I noticed I have a living room.  I haven’t been in my living room in a long time.  I decided to turn on the television and sit in my comfy side chair.  Two hours later, I discovered I was slumped over in my chair… I had fallen asleep. 

I felt like a new person after the nap.  My thoughts weren’t jumbled up. 

With rest I was able to focus on details, like smiling!

I had enough energy to go to the gym.  I finished my workout and noticed one of the regular “gym rats” was there.  We both smiled and nodded at each other.  It’s doubtful I would have been aware of him—much less smiled at him had I not rested earlier.  

It will probably take me more than 365 days to really get into the habit of practicing Dale Carnegie’s principle from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Rest before you get tired.

I think we all owe it to ourselves to rest.  When we rest we are better equipped to do our best.  We’re able to give others our attention and we are more productive.  We are able to focus on details as well as the bigger picture.

My big challenge for Friday:  I hope to take a half day off to make up for working on Memorial Day.  Place your bets now.  As I said, it will take a long time before I can fully adopt this principle.  Even the Smiling Daffodil defies logic at times….

Housekeeping / Notes:
Thank you for reading my blog!  I am touched to see that it’s being read.  It motivates me to give you my best.
Mark your calendar!  This weekend I’ll be adding some bonus blog material to the Day Old Bread and Doggie Bags section of the blog.