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 37. When you feel like a sack of bones… do this.


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 37.  May 1, 2011
It was roughly 10 am – I dragged myself out of bed—there were particular muscles that wanted to greet me by being quite sore from yesterday’s 5K run.  It felt good to be sore—I consider it a badge of honor. 

Go, go, go!

After church I gobbled my lunch down – there was no sign of soup, pasta or bread after I was finished eating.  I even considered a light dessert—like a triple chocolate mousse cake. The other family members at lunch looked at me with shock.  I like to pretend I’m a hummingbird and I guess my metabolism plays along.

After lunch I ran some errands—which involved clothes shopping.  I wasn’t very interested in this task.

It was around this time I felt my system shutting down.  My head was hurting.  I felt completely drained.  My limbs felt like a sack of bones.  I wanted to collapse.  I know this feeling—I have ignored it in the past.  This feeling defies my perception of logic.  I got sleep the night before.  I ate well.  I haven’t been to the gym in awhile.  Yes, I ran a 5K but come on—I’m not a delicate flower.  I’m supposed to be a durable gym rat. 

I remembered one of Dale Carnegie’s principles I’ve been avoiding because there just isn’t enough time to incorporate it into my schedule.  I have a lot of things I need to get done today.  And today does not include that principle.  Besides what will I write about in today’s blog? 

Nap time

As I scraped myself out of the car and into my home after shopping—I decided to go straight to bed for a very long nap.
The Dale Carnegie principles I used today is from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Rest before you get tired. 
Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home.

While my mind wanted to continue going like a hummingbird—physically, I was drained.  As hard as it is—I have to exercise balance. 

It’s not only ok, it’s necessary to remove yourself from everything around you and rest.  When you rest—you wake up refreshed and are able to approach the day with better focus and clarity.

Housekeeping/Reminder:
Click here to read Friday’s blog to find out how cleaning a toilet was an example of using the Dale Carnegie principles!
Click here to read how you can find opportunities to be a cheerleader for others while running in a 5K.
Click here to find out how YOU can become a writer for The Smiling Daffodil’s 365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie principles.

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!

Housekeeping/Reminders:
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 28: Phone call from random woman turns into great opportunity


365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 28.  April 22, 2011
This morning I heard some stressful phone conversations coming from our customer service center in our building.  Being a Carnegie graduate I was eager to help—but I didn’t know how to give any of the employees encouragement without coming off condescending or arrogant.  I can understand how the job can be stressful and thankless.  I wrung my hands and did nothing….

At 3:45 pm the phone rang in my office. 

I picked up the phone and said warmly, “good afternoon, XYZ company.  This is Susie Q.”

Woman on other end of phone:  “Hi Susie Q—how are you today?”

I replied with gusto—“I’m great!  How are you?”  (Note to the reader:  I have NO idea who this person is—she hasn’t identified herself.  I’m also anxious to find out if management will send us home early since it’s Good Friday.  Despite these personal concerns I decide to do my best by having a cheerful voice on the phone.) 

The woman on the phone replied with a heavy sigh, “I’m SO TIRED.  I’m hoping they send us home early today.”

SIGH… would you like to buy our services….

At this point—you can hear the sound of crickets.  I don’t know how to respond to this—so I stay silent. 

Woman on phone:  “I’m calling to sell you services in such and such we have the best services in town… are you the owner?”

I replied, “No I’m not the owner and our company is not interested.”

Woman on phone:  “Well, if you’re not the owner it’s not your place to tell me the company isn’t interested.”

I responded, “Just a note—it’s probably not a good idea to tell me that you are so tired before you try to sell me something.” 

Woman on phone:  “Well you were the one that asked how I was doing.  I was just answering your question with honesty.”

I replied to the woman, “I hope you have a good weekend—sounds like you need the rest.”

Woman on phone:  “Click.”

I set the phone back down after being hung up on and chuckle to myself.  I told my associate Henrietta the story.  (Henrietta spends a large portion of her day handling our customer service calls.  She has immense patience that I don’t have—but like all of us can use encouragement from time to time.) 

To dramatize the concept I said with enthusiasm, “Henrietta, can you imagine if you answered the phone and began with a low, unhappy voice like this:

     “Hi, this is Henrietta (sigh) what can I do for you (sigh).” 
     The customer on the line would respond, “hi Henrietta (sigh) I was calling to place an order (sigh) but now I’m too disinterested and tired (sigh).” 

Both Henrietta and I got a good laugh at my very exaggerated skit. 

I said to Henrietta, “that woman that called me is nothing like you Henrietta.  You do a good job.”

The Dale Carnegie principles I used today:
From How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 2.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.
Principle 20.  Dramatize your ideas.
Principle 28.  Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. 

From How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Put enthusiasm into your work.

So remember, sometimes the best way to encourage, praise and motivate others is to give an exaggerated example of what not to do.  This method gets a good chuckle.  It also sends a message that you appreciate their work and you are giving them a fine reputation to live up to.  After all, no one would want to be the “dramatized” version of Henrietta that I played.