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Good habits of successful life


Good habits of successful life



Good habits of successful life


If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goals.
—Norman Vincent Peale
The way you think and feel about yourself, including your beliefs and expectations about what is possible for you, determines every- thing you do and everything that happens to you.When you change the quality of your thinking, you change the quality of your life, sometimes instantly.
You have complete control over only one thing in the universe— your thinking! You can decide what you are going to think in any given situation.Your thoughts and the way you interpret any event trigger your feelings—positive or negative.Your thoughts and feel- ings lead to your actions and determine the results you get. It all starts with your thoughts.
■ POSITIVE THINKING
Positive thoughts are life enhancing. They empower you and make you feel stronger and more confident. Positive thinking is not just a motivational idea. It has measurable, constructive effects on your personality, your health, your levels of energy, and your creativity. The more positive and optimistic you are, the happier you will be in every area of your life.
Negative thoughts bring about the opposite. They disempower you and make you feel weaker and less confident. Whenever you think or say something negative, you give your power away. You feel angry and defensive. You feel frustrated and unhappy. Over time, negative thinking can make you physically ill, and even poi- son your relationships.
Positive thinking leads to mental health and peak performance. Negative thinking leads to mental illness and decreased effective- ness.Your goal, therefore, if you want to live a wonderful life, is to cultivate positive emotions and get rid of negative emotions.
The elimination of negative emotions is the most important sin- gle step you can take toward health, happiness, and personal well- being. Each time you take complete control over your thoughts and feelings, and discipline yourself to keep them positive, the quality of both your inner and outer lives improves. In the absence of negative emotions, your mind automatically fills with the positive emotions that generate feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
■ YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR THOUGHTS
The Law of Substitution says, “Your mind can hold only one thought at a time, positive or negative.You can substitute a positive thought for a negative thought whenever you choose.” You can apply this law by deliberately thinking about something positive when- ever you want to cancel out a thought or feeling that makes you angry or unhappy.
The Law of Habit says, “Any thought or action that you repeat over and over will eventually become a new habit.” When you repeat- edly react and respond in a positive way, you take full control over your conscious mind. Soon it becomes automatic and easy to think and act in that manner. By using willpower and repetition, you de- velop new habits of thinking and acting. By applying this law, you can become a completely positive person and change your life.
■ STARVE YOUR NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
Your negative emotions have all been learned, beginning in child- hood. And what has been learned can be unlearned, sometimes
You can learn any habit or skill that you consider to be either desirable or necessary. Especially, you can learn positive, con- structive ways of thinking about people, money, health, and other factors to cancel out negative ideas that limit your potential and in- terfere with your success.
Many negative ideas or attitudes are based on false premises. Sometimes a negative idea about a subject, or a negative attitude toward a person, can be completely reversed with a single piece of new information. You could suddenly learn that an idea you had about yourself or another person was not true. As a result, you could change your thinking in an instant. Be open to this possibility.
Negative emotions exist only because we give them life and then keep them alive. We feed them by continually thinking and talking about things that make us angry or unhappy. Fortunately, you can change this situation by applying the Law of Emotion. This law states, “A stronger emotion will dominate and override a weaker emotion, and whichever emotion you concentrate on grows and becomes stronger.”
What this means is that whatever emotion you dwell upon grows and eventually dominates your thinking in that area. If you with- draw your mental energy from a person or situation that makes you sad or angry by refusing to think about it, the emotion connected with that situation eventually dies away. Like a fire with no fuel, it goes out.
You have experienced this many times already. For example, as we grow up, we have relationships with the opposite sex. Most of them do not work out over time.When they end, we are often emo- tionally distressed and hurt.We are often sad, angry, depressed, pre- occupied, and unhappy. These feelings last for a certain period. Then we recover.We meet someone else. Gradually we forget about the unhappy ending of the earlier relationship. Months or years later, we look back or even meet the other person, and we cannot imagine how emotionally involved we were with him or her. Be- cause we did not feed them, the feelings have died away completely. This is an example of the laws of substitution and emotion in action in your own life.
■ THE SOURCES OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
There are four basic causes of negative emotions. According to the Russian philosopher Peter Ouspensky, in his book In Search of the Miraculous, these are: (1) justification; (2) identification, (3) inward considering, and (4) blame. The greatest leap forward in changing your thinking and changing your life will take place when you sys- tematically eliminate all four of these causes of negative emotions from your life.
■ STOP JUSTIFYING
Justification is what you do when you rationalize or create a rea- son for your anger and unhappiness.You tell yourself, and who- ever else will listen, how badly you were treated and how dreadfully the other person behaved.You continually rehash the situation in your mind.You repeat all the reasons you have for be- ing upset. Each time you think of the person or situation, you be- come angry.You feel entitled to your anger, as if you have paid a high price for it, especially since, in your estimation, you were such a good and virtuous person.
The way you short-circuit the natural tendency toward justifica- tion and rationalization is by refusing to engage in it. Instead, you stop justifying.You use your marvelous mind to think of reasons not to justify your negative emotions. Remember, your negative emo- tions do you no good. They are totally destructive. They do not af- fect the other person or change the situation. They simply undermine your happiness and self-confidence, making you weaker and less effective in other areas of your life.
Instead of justifying your anger and unhappiness, you should use your intelligence and imagination to excuse the other person, or to let go of the unhappy situation. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of becoming angry, you say, “Well, I’d better be more careful next time,” “I guess he is having a bad day,” or “He must be late for an important appointment.”
■ MAKE EXCUSES FOR OTHERS
Since your mind can hold only one thought at a time, the instant you start excusing the other person you withdraw the energy or fuel that the negative emotions of anger and resentment require to get going and stay burning.You reassert your mental control. You keep yourself calm and positive. In a little while, the situation passes and you forget all about it. By substituting a positive thought for a negative thought, you get rid of the negative emo- tion, whatever it is.
If you have a major life problem, such as a divorce, a lost job, or a failed investment, the same rule holds true. Stop telling yourself (and anyone who will listen) why you are entitled to be angry or un- happy. Instead, make excuses for the other person each time you think about the situation until the negativity dies away. When the fire of negative emotion goes out, you can then turn your attention to something positive.
One of the most important rules for success and happiness is, “Don’t be upset or worry about something that you can’t do any- thing about.” Don’t criticize anyone for something that the person cannot change. A famous law says, “If there is no solution, there is no problem.”
■ TWO TIME PERIODS
There are two time periods in life, the past and the future. The present is only a brief, fleeting moment.You can choose to focus your attention on what has happened, which cannot be changed, or on the future, on what is possible, over which you have some control.
Many people spend most of their emotional energies being upset and angry about events that occurred in the past. Unfortu- nately, this energy is completely wasted. Nothing good can come of constantly complaining about the past. Even worse, the nega- tive emotions kept alive by reliving past events rob you of the joy and excitement that you could experience by thinking about fu- ture possibilities.
■ LET IT GO
A psychiatrist with more than 25 years’ experience working with unhappy people wrote that the two most common words he heard in his practice were the words “if only.” It seemed that most un- happy people are held back by some event that occurred in the past that they cannot let go of. They are still resentful, angry, or de- pressed over something that someone did or did not do or say.They are angry with one or both parents, a sibling, a previous relationship or marriage, a boss or business relationship, a failed investment or financial mistake.
The fact is that your life will be a continuous series of problems, difficulties, setbacks, and temporary failures. These unexpected and unwanted reversals and disappointments are a normal, natural, and unavoidable fact of growing up.To change your thinking and change your life, you must make a decision to get over them and to get on with your life, no matter what happened. Until you do, you remain a slave to the past, which cannot be changed in any case. Make a deci- sion today that, from now on, you are going to eliminate all the “if only’s” from your life.
■ REINTERPRET EVENTS DIFFERENTLY
The author and speaker Wayne Dyer says, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” He means that at any time you can rein- terpret the unhappy events of your early life in a positive way.You can practice the Law of Substitution and look into those negative experiences for something good, and think about that instead. You can focus on how your unhappy experiences have made you a better, wiser person.You can actually be grateful to people who have hurt you in the past because they have made you so much stronger in the present. And in any case, it could not have hap- pened otherwise.
Your parents had no experience with raising children. In addi- tion, they were a product of the way they were raised. Like all hu- mans, they came to parenting with their problems and weaknesses, just as you have today. Nonetheless, they did the best they could
with what they had. They were the people they were, and they could not have raised you any differently than they did. It is silly to continue to be unhappy about things they did or didn’t do that they were incapable of doing otherwise. Let it go and get on with your life.
■ DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
The second major cause of negative emotions according to Ouspen- sky, is identification, or attachment. This occurs when you take something personally or you become attached to a person or thing. You see the unhappy outcome of an event or circumstance as a per- sonal affront or attack on you or on something you believe in or hold dearly. You become emotionally involved in a situation and identify so strongly with it that it affects your emotions and your reason in a negative way.
The great spiritual teachers, such as Buddha and Jesus, have emphasized the importance of separating yourself emotionally from the situation (disidentification), in order to regain your calmness and composure. Psychologist and philosopher William James of Har- vard wrote, “The first step in dealing with any difficulty is to be will- ing to have it so.” He encouraged people to say, “What cannot be cured must be endured.” In other words, practice detachment from any person or situation that makes you feel angry or upset. With- draw the emotional energy from it so that you can regain your calm- ness and composure.
This approach does not suggest that you passively accept any- thing that happens to you. Instead, it encourages you to use your willpower to keep your mind and emotions under control.You disci- pline yourself to stand back mentally and deal with the problem in- telligently. You use your mind to see the situation objectively and make better decisions to resolve it.
Nothing and no one can have any control over you unless there is something you still want from them. They must have something that they can still give you or withhold from you. As soon as you de- tach emotionally from a person or object and no longer want any- thing from them, you are free.This ability to practice detachment is a power you can develop through practice. It can make you the master of a situation that might otherwise cause you to become up- set and angry.
One of the kindest things you can do to help others is to encour- age them to stand back from a problem situation and be objective about it. Encourage them to view the difficulty as if it was happen- ing to someone else. Ask them what advice they would give to an- other person who was facing this same problem. By detaching from the emotionally charged situation, you and others will become much more capable of dealing with it effectively.
■ THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS
The third major cause of negative emotions, according to Ous- pensky, is inward considering.This occurs when you become overly concerned with the way people are treating you. If you perceive that someone is not giving you the respect that you feel you de- serve, you can feel insulted and angry, and want to strike back. If people are rude or indifferent to you, you can experience their behavior as an attack on your personality or character. This in- terpretation of their attitude or behavior can make you angry or depressed.
Psychologists say that everything we do is to increase our self- esteem and sense of personal value, or to protect it from being di- minished by other people or circumstances. If your self-esteem is not as high as it could be, you will be sensitive to the actions and re- actions of other people toward you.You will take everything person- ally, exactly as if what they said or did was consciously and deliberately directed at you. However, this is seldom the case.
The fact is that most people are preoccupied with themselves and their own problems. As much as 99 percent of the time, people are wrapped up in their own thoughts about themselves. They de- vote the other 1 percent of emotional energy they have available to everyone else in the world, including you.The person who cuts you off in traffic is so involved with his own thoughts, he is not even aware of your existence. It would be silly to become angry or upset over his thoughtless action.
■ SET YOUR OWN SAILS
There is a rule that I have learned from experience: Never do or re- frain from doing something because you are concerned about what people might think about you.The fact is that nobody is even thinking about you at all.
Of course, I am not talking about criminal or antisocial be- haviors. But it is amazing how many people make decisions to get into or to not get into relationships, businesses, new endeav- ors, adventures, and other things for fear that someone else might not approve. They stay in marriages they hate, they work at jobs they dislike, or they turn down business opportunities for fear that someone, anyone, might criticize them. The truth is that no one cares more about your key life decisions than you do. Plan accordingly.
In Abraham Maslow’s studies of self-actualizing people, those 1 or 2 percent of men and women who are fully mature, fully functioning adults, he found a particular quality that they all had in common: They were completely honest with themselves. They were objective and clear about their own strengths and weaknesses. They did not hope or pretend that they were other than they were. This self-acceptance was a foundation stone of their self-esteem and self-respect.
Because they knew who they were, and who they were not, they did not feel that they had to continually earn the approval of others. They took the opinions of others into consideration, but then they made their own decisions. They were not overly influenced by the possible approval or disapproval of other people.You should do the same.You are the one who cares the most and who is most affected, in any case.
■ THE RESPECT OF OTHERS
When Somerset Maugham, the famous English author, was asked by a reporter for his chief motivation for writing, he replied, “I write to earn the respect of the people I respect.”
The fact is that much of what you do, or fail to do, is influenced by the same concern.You do many things in your social life to earn the respect of the people you respect, or at least not to lose it. In fact, the people whose respect is most important to you largely de- termine how good you feel about yourself, both at home and at work. The respect of others has an inordinate influence on your self-esteem because it is so closely linked to your self-ideal and your self-image.
Exceptional men and women look up to and seek the respect of men and women of character and accomplishment. They strive, at an unconscious level, to behave and to live up to their ideals of how an excellent person would behave.
One of the most important decisions you make as you go through life is to decide for yourself the specific people whose re- spect is of the greatest value to you. Once you are clear about who you respect and why you respect them, you can then organize your life in such a way that you continually earn that respect, whether they know of your actions or not.
■ SET HIGH STANDARDS
In the famous book In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon (Christian Library, 1984), an entire town agrees, prior to every act or decision, to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” and then to behave ac- cordingly. The eventual outcome for the townspeople was that the problems that had divided them were soon solved and the town be- came happy and prosperous. They created an ideal for themselves and then built their lives around living up to it.
In a study of successful men and women, most of whom had started from humble beginnings, researchers found that these people had almost all been avid readers of biographies and auto- biographies when they were young. As they read the life stories of famous men and women, they imagined themselves having the same qualities and characters of the people they were studying. When they became adults themselves, those qualities and virtues had become part of their thinking and guided their choices and decisions in later life.
Modeling has been used as a powerful way to develop personality and character throughout history.Young people have been encour- aged to study school heroes and heroines, and emulate them as much as possible. In the military, the heroic acts of soldiers and sailors from the past are taught as part of the curriculum, encourag- ing young soldiers and sailors to think and act like them when the situation demands it.
The people you most admire and look up to have an inordinate influence on how you think and feel about yourself, and the kind of decisions you make.Who are your role models?
■ CHOOSE YOUR ROLE MODELS WITH CARE
There is nothing wrong with being thoughtful and concerned about the feelings and reactions of others toward you and your choices. When you select admirable people to look up to, you de- velop an inner guide that leads you to conduct yourself in an excel- lent way yourself.
What is silly and self-defeating however, is for you to allow yourself to be inordinately influenced by the fleeting opinions of people whose regard and respect is of no concern or value to you. If you have been raised with destructive criticism, you can easily slip into the trap of organizing your life around trying to gain the ap- proval, or escape the disapproval, or people you don’t even know or care about.
Here is the way to avoid this form of negative emotion: Decide for yourself the men and women you most admire, and the qualities they have that you would most like to emulate. From now on, when you have to make a decision, think about someone you admire and ask, “What would he or she do in this situation?”
When you ask this question, you actually connect at an unconscious level with a higher power that will then give you guidance and insight.You will experience a deep inner knowing of exactly the right thing to do or say. You will make the right decision and achieve the desired result. This is a technique used by many successful men and women. Give it a try and see what happens.
■ THE WORST NEGATIVE INFLUENCE OF ALL
The fourth major cause of negative emotions, according to Ouspen- sky, and the trigger of anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, and frustra- tion of any kind is blame. It is blame especially that generates anger, the worst of all the negative emotions. Anger is more destructive than any force in the human world. Uncontrolled anger destroys health, relationships, families, businesses, and societies, and is the chief generator of wars, revolutions, and social conflict.
The primary cause of anger can be traced back to destructive criticism in early childhood. Whenever a person is criticized, he reacts exactly as if he is being attacked, with defensiveness and re- sentment. Since any behavior that you repeat over and over be- comes a habit, many people develop the habit of responding with anger to every problem, disappointment, or frustration they expe- rience. Eventually, they reach the point where they are always an- gry about something.
To become angry, a person must be able to blame someone for something that has happened or not happened that they don’t like or approve of. Many people are so preoccupied with blaming others for their problems that they lose contact with reality. They see the entire world through a lens of blame and its sister emotion, guilt.
Whenever there is a problem, personal or public, the angry per- son automatically concludes that someone must be to blame. The individual then spends his time and emotion apportioning blame among various parties. This obsession with blame and anger, lead- ing to resentment and envy, can often consume the person who ex- periences it.
■ NO ONE IS GUILTY
Here is a common example.Two people in love get married. Both of them have the best of intentions and the highest of expectations for the future, or they wouldn’t get married in the first place. Unfortu- nately, people and situations change over time. The couple finds that they are no longer happy together and decide to divorce. But then the problems really begin.
Instead of agreeing, like adults, that they have reached a point where they are incompatible and they no longer want to live to- gether, blame must be apportioned. Someone must be guilty. The guilty party must be punished. Lawyers and judges now have to get involved. Detectives and accountants are hired to dig up dirt on each party. The situation gets worse and worse, until it finally ends in anger, bitterness, accusations, and even hatred.
The best of solutions, when a marriage or a relationship does not work out, is to accept that fact as an unfortunate reality, make reasonable provisions for each party, and then for each person to get on with his or her life. Many couples are doing this today through mediation rather than going through the bitterness of a traditional divorce. The results turn out to be better for every- one involved.
It is a psychological fact that most people feel that they are right in whatever they do. But as soon as one person starts to blame the other, and even worse, demand that the other person admit to being guilty, the emotional and legal battles begin. The saddest part of these legal battles is that they usually end where they started, with no one having gained very much.
■ ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
The best way to eliminate anger of all kinds is to accept responsibility. The acceptance of responsibility immediately short-circuits the emotion of anger. All the energy that anger requires for its existence is cut off. As soon as you say, “I am responsible!” your anger stops. Because of the Law of Substitution and the fact that your mind can hold only one thought at a time, you cannot accept responsibility for your situation and be angry at the same time.The idea of blame, on which the emotion of anger is based, is canceled out by the deci- sion to accept responsibility.
■ POSITIVE VERSUS NEGATIVE WORLDVIEWS
There are two basic ways of looking at your world.You can have a positive and benevolent worldview or a negative and malevolent
worldview. By taking responsibility for yourself and what happens to you, you become positive. You see the world in benevolent terms.You become more optimistic toward yourself and your possi- bilities.You become a happier and more effective person.
In contrast, when you take a negative or malevolent worldview, you see problems and injustice everywhere.You see oppression and evil.You see guilty people all around you.You see limitations and unfairness rather than opportunity and hope. Worst of all, you spend your time apportioning blame to various people and institu- tions for all the problems you see.
■ DIFFERENCES IN RESULTS
For example, in this country, some people are better off than others. This has been true of all societies throughout human history. This can be for various reasons. It may be the result of different people having different talents, ambitions, and desires. It may be the result of some people working harder, having a better start at life, being born with greater intelligence, or simply being at the right place at the right time to catch a favorable trend in the economy.
In any case, people who are well off are not to blame for the fat that other people are not well off. People who are healthy are not to blame for the fact that other people are sick. People who are suc- cessful and happy are not to blame for those who are unsuccessful and unhappy. People who are building a good life for themselves and their families are not at fault because other people are not.
Success does not cause failure. Correlation is not causation. Be- cause both situations occur simultaneously, this does not mean that one caused the other. An honest acceptance of this simple fact would solve many arguments and disagreements at the philosophi- cal and political levels.
■ THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
The root cause of negative emotions, the main factor that predis- poses a person to blaming and to anger and resentment, fear and doubt, envy and jealousy, is the inability to forgive someone we feel has hurt us in some way.
As we develop as children, we go through a phase where “jus- tice” is very important to us.We fixate on the concept of “fairness.” We are upset by any situation in our lives that does not seem to be fair and equitable to anyone, especially if it concerns ourselves. Whenever we feel that we or anyone else has been unfairly treated, for any reason, we take it as a personal attack. Our fragile self- esteem is threatened.We react with anger and resentment.This is a normal developmental phase of growth that we go through as we move toward adulthood.
However, some people fixate at this stage and never grow beyond it. If we are not taught the importance of letting go of our grievances as children, we will come into adulthood with a gunnysack of unfor- given experiences. If we are not careful, we will then build our lives around our anger toward people who we feel are to blame for some- thing they did or that we disapprove of. Many psychotherapists and psychiatrists spend their entire careers helping people confront and deal with these unhappy past and current experiences.
The most powerful and liberating decision you can make is to forgive everyone who has ever hurt you in any way. Only by freeing the other person, in your mind, by forgiving him or her can you be free yourself.This is why most religions stress the importance of for- giveness as the first step toward peace of mind and earthly bliss.
Just imagine how you would feel if you had no anger toward anyone at all in the whole world. Imagine being a completely posi- tive, optimistic, cheerful person, with high levels of self-esteem and enthusiasm and unlimited self-confidence. Imagine being a warm, friendly, loving person filled with feelings of calmness and inner peace. All this is possible for you when you practice forgiveness.
In contrast, the refusal or failure to forgive lies at the base of negativity, anger, stress, anxiety, mental and physical illness, and most unhappiness. The refusal to forgive keeps you trapped. For- giveness sets you free. And it is always a choice you make. It has nothing to do with the other person or situation.
■ IT TAKES TWO
Some people hold themselves back from forgiving with a false basic premise.They think that by forgiving they are condoning the behavior of the person they are mad at.They think that, if they forgive the other person, they are doing that person a favor. They even think that they are letting the other person go free, which they are deter- mined not to do.
The fact is that it takes two to make a prison, the prisoner and the jailer. Both are in the jail. When you let the other person go free, you liberate yourself.You don’t have to condone the behavior or like the person who hurt you.You just have to forgive him or her so that you can get on with the rest of your life. Forgiveness is therefore a totally selfish act. It really has nothing to do with the other person at all. It has only to do with your own mental integrity and peace of mind.
The comedian Buddy Hackett once said, “I never hold grudges; while you’re holding grudges, they’re out dancing!”
When you remain angry with another person, you give away your emotional control to that person each time you think of him or her.You allow him or her to control your emotions at long distance. By not forgiving, you allow that person to run your emotional life, exactly as if he or she were right there with you and the situation was occurring all over age.

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