Thursday, January 19, 2012

Five Principles to Apply to Your Life...Now.

At the beginning of the new year, I decided I would do the "12 in 12" challenge, an idea that I first saw on Nancy Ray's blog. I felt that reading twelve self-improvement books, ranging from finances to relationships, would help me grow as a person.

I searched high and low for recommendations for the best self-improvement books on the market. Some are old, some are new, and all have been described as revolutionary.

The first book on my list was Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People," a book that was first published in 1936. I'm amazed that a book written so long ago is perfectly relevant today. It makes me think of one of my favorite Bible verses, Ecclesiastes 3:15: "What is has already been, and what will be has been before."

I've been working hard to apply the principles in this book to my life, and though I'm not perfect, I have seen immediate results.

1. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, people don't criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be. You will save yourself from a lot of frustration the moment you accept that you cannot change another person.
There will always be people who are mean, evil, thoughtless, immoral, or just plain miserable with life. There will be times when good people lack good judgment. We live in a world where nobody wants to accept responsibility for themselves or take any sort of blame. Humans are not creatures of logic, we are creatures of emotion. Better to just accept this as a truth, rather than to complain, condemn, or judge other people.

2. You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
If we want to make friends, let's put ourselves out to do things for other people- things that require time, energy, and unselfishness. We should remember that people (and this goes for everyone!) are a hundred times more interested in themselves than anyone else. A person's toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people.

3. Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Everybody in the world is seeking happiness, and there is one sure way to find it- by controlling your thoughts. I have seen happier people working in the fields of Honduras than in the luxury car stopped beside me at a stoplight. That's because happiness comes from within. It's a choice.   

4. Remember someone's name.
More often than not, I am unable to repeat a person's name back to them immediately after they tell me their name. This is embarrassing to admit, but I doubt I am the only one. This happens because we're not really listening and registering their name in our minds. Remember a name and recall it easily, and you will have paid a subtle and very effective compliment. The average person is more interested in his or her own name than all other names on earth combined. 

5. I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument- and that is to avoid it.
In the past, I have been quick to argue, but it is so much better to simply let it go.
Even with the petty things, it is so tempting to want to be right. I will often use my smart phone just to prove a point. But is there really anything more annoying than having someone contradict what you say?
I'm guilty of being contradictory myself, but let's all agree that there is never a good time, place, or reason to contradict something. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn't really matter who sang that song, who directed that movie, or _insert any other trivial matter._

*Please note that most of this blog post is a regurgitation of "How to Win Friends and Influence People." It is not my original work. I would highly recommend that you read and re-read this book.*

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