Good Living | What I Learned From Dale Carnegie, and How it Can Change Your Life Forever

| July 16, 2014

Positive-feelingsEDITORIAL – Dale Carnegie’s most famously known for his book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People” and his course of the same name. That book is one that I’ve read many times myself, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. But, today, I’d like to talk to you about something else he wrote a lot about; how becoming more positive is a life changer.

Carnegie once wrote a story about a salesman who had attended one of his personal-development courses. As the story goes, the salesman told the class about how he grew bluegrass on his lawn by spreading the ashes of hickory wood on it. Not just dead hickory wood mind you, but the ashes of burnt hickory wood.

The man’s story seemed a little unbelievable, to say the least. I mean, how can you create something living out of something that has been burned like that? Carnegie couldn’t help but think that there must be some other explanation for the growth of bluegrass in the man’s lawn.

When challenged about it, however, the man insisted that this was exactly how it was done. He spoke at length about it, and with such conviction that he ended up convincing everyone in the class that he was right. Some of his fellow students said things like, “He seems so positive that it must be true.” and, “He is so enthusiastic about the story that it simply can’t be made up.”

Carnegie concluded that whether it was true or not, the real secret of the salesman’s success in convincing others was his attitude.

By now you may be wondering what this has to do with you. Am I trying to teach you something about growing bluegrass? Not at all. Rather, I’m demonstrating to you how your attitude makes a huge difference. It did for the salesman, and it can for you.

So, is being positive, or not, something you’re just born with? Good question. The short answer is, yes. It is true that some people are naturally (because of personality) more positive. But, and this is great news for the rest of us, it is something that can be attained by most anyone.

Before I continue, let me say this. I’m not suggesting you can be (or should be) positive about something that’s genuinely negative. For example, if you have been the victim of abuse or racism, you’re not going to feel positive about that situation.

However, most people, thankfully, aren’t in that situation. Rather, they’re faced with the day-to-day stuff and have progressively became more and more negative about it.

For instance, let’s say you have a job that while initially you were excited about, you now loathe. You look at the clock each day, anticipating the day’s end, and you can’t wait until the weekend. Or, maybe you’re in a relationship that was once alive and vibrant, and now it’s all you can do to look at the other person.

If you can relate, then the following techniques will help a lot:

1) Pretend. One of the best ways to muster up more enthusiasm for something is to pretend to like it more than you really do. Something that has been called, “Fake until you make it.” Maybe you don’t really want to fix the roof but you know your wife wants you to. Pretend you’re more enthusiastic than you actually are and you may eventually find yourself getting caught up in the task. And when your wife expresses her gratitude, you’ll be glad that you put in the effort.

2) Encourage yourself. Another way to muster up more positivity is by giving yourself little rewards. Keep in mind that people learn better through rewards than punishments. This is because rewards help you to feel more positive. Let’s say you’ve just finished a task that you’ve been working on for a while. Why not take a coffee break or reward yourself by going to a movie or buying yourself something nice? The next time you have to do that task, you’ll feel more positive because you’ll remember the reward from the last time.

3) Surround yourself with the right people. The late Jim Rohn taught that you’re the average of your five closest friends (to include your online friends). I’ve found this to be spot on. Maybe not so much in income, and social status, but certainly when it comes to attitude. If the majority of your friends are negative, you can be sure that you will be too. So, if you want to become more positive, you may have to cut them loose. That’s harsh, I know. But, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Then you have room for more positive associations.

Well, there you have it. Three simple ways to be more positive. With some effort, and time, you too can be the most positive person you know.

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18 Comments on "Good Living | What I Learned From Dale Carnegie, and How it Can Change Your Life Forever"

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  1. Papi says:

    Good article Jay. If anything it will make the individual feel good at least for a little while!!!

  2. Stephanie says:

    Again, you are so so right! You have a great perspective!

  3. John Bentley says:

    Great article with practical advice. My take aways Jay are:

    1. I can think my way into a feeling and

    2. Surround yourself with others who will support and encourage me.


  4. Alan Steacy says:

    Jay…Dale Carnegie would certainly be proud of you! Just this morning I was having this very discussion with a friend. We were speaking about persuasion and how enthusiasm and positive energy are essential elements.

  5. Lori Voigt says:

    I know when I read one of your articles, I will feel better for reading it. It is always an encouraging message that everyone could benefit from.

  6. Amanda says:

    I love this story-it is so true how our attitudes about something can change the situation-it is all about perspective! The “fake it till you make it” has worked for me in the past…if you believe it long enough (whether positive or negative)-it will become true, so why not make it be good?!
    Thanks again, Jay!

  7. Brian Hipple says:

    As always Jay Great article..
    Having a Positive Mental Attitude will definitely give you a better outlook on life also..
    People will tend to gravitate your way more when they see something positive about you.
    There is also a book on this subject by W.Clement Stone called
    “Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude”

  8. Chick says:

    Another great article Jay!!!

  9. Paz Platt says:

    Great article, Jay. You’re so right about having to “cut loose” the negative people in your life. If not, they suck you right down with them.