Cultivate a Positive Attitude
Fill Your Mind with Peace #
Our life is what our thoughts make of it. Choosing the right thoughts helps us choose the right mindset. The book argues that choosing a default positive mindset over a negative one. This means instead of showing worry, we show concern. Concern is seeing the problems calmly and taking steps to solve them. Worry is going in futile circles.
This connects back to the stoic belief of life being less about the situations thrown at us and more about our response to them. In this case, framing our responses with concern and positivity.
Nothing can bring you peace but yourself
Sometimes changing our actions is a good path to changing our feelings. So acting cheerfully will pass cheerful feelings onto us. Act as if you love to give instead of squandering it on yourself, which helps turn pity into happiness.
This all requires dominion over oneself and one's thoughts, fears, mind, and spirit. Don't cede this control to other media like television. So building a strong positive attitude takes work to cultivate how we think. Take it all one day at a time.
Don't Try to Get Even #
Hating and trying to get even with our enemies gives them power over us. Our hatred damages our sleeping, eating, blood pressure, health, and happiness. Our enemies would love knowing how they made us destroy ourselves. Our hatred hurts us more than them. Don't stoop low enough to hate them.
If people upset or take advantage of you, cross them off your list but don't try to get even. Cut them out without letting your hatred grow. If we can't love our enemies, we should at least love ourselves enough so our enemies don't control our happiness.
an angry man is always full of poison
One way to find this forgiveness is getting absorbed in a cause much bigger than ourselves. This makes our enemy's actions insignificant in comparison. Don't waste a minute of thought on those we don't like.
Expect Ingratitude #
Humans often stress themselves out expecting gratitude from others, but human nature makes it unfortunately uncommon. It's better to accept this and not expect gratitude, so getting it is a great surprise, and not getting it won't bother us. If you feel entitled to gratitude, you don't want gratitude, you just want love and attention.
The healthier approach is taking joy in pouring out love without expecting any in return. Give for the joy of giving.
To bring more gratitude into the world, it must be cultivated in us while young. It's dangerous to grow up with the idea the world owes us a living.
Count Your Blessings, Not Your Troubles #
If you ask yourself what's worrying you, most often it's something relatively unimportant compared to what could be wrong. About 90% of our life is right while 10% is wrong, and we should focus on and be thankful for the 90% that's right. To often our minds are pulled instead towards what we lack. We are bombarded with images of what we could have, and we forget what we already have.
I had the blues because I had no shoes. Until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.
A good exercise for this is asking if you'd sell your eyes, hands, legs, hearing, family, or anything else you have for a billion dollars. Add it all up and we'd rarely want to sell everything we have for any amount of money.
Start each morning by counting all your blessings so they're easier to remember. Imagine losing your sight for decades before getting it back, and the simple act of cleaning dishes covered with bubbles becomes a joy.
Find and Be Yourself #
Forcing yourself in a life or pattern you don't fit only leads to misery. Feeling like you need to be someone else for anyone else won't work since nobody wants a fake. People more often love someone proud of whoever they are, faults and limits included. No one has your experiences, observations, and convictions.
There's never been anyone like you in the world before, and no one ever will be again. So don't waste the unique opportunity of a lifetime to be yourself. Whether you're a pine tree or a scrub, be the best of whatever you are.
It takes work to find out who you are, but that work is worth it in the end.
Make Lemonade from Lemons #
When given misfortune, don't say fate has beaten you. Ask what lessons you can learn, how to improve on things, and make the most of what you've been given. Don't turn away from a new world you're thrust into, and instead, turn it into an exciting and unexpected journey. This is difficult, but the best things in life often are.
The most important thing in life is not to capitalize on your gains - any fool can do that. The important thing is to profit from your losses. That requires intelligence; and it makes the difference between a man of sense and a fool.
Rebelling against an unwanted fate rarely changes it and only brings bitterness. See fate as an opportunity to make something great, even if it wasn't part of your "plan." People who pity themselves usually do so because of who they are, not their circumstances, so don't rely on it.
Even if things feel hopeless, there are two reasons to try anyway:
- You may succeed
- Even if you fail, trying to make something good from something bad helps us express ourselves and get busy enough to forget our initial worries.
Make Happiness for Others #
One of the quickest ways to turn enemies into friends is by focusing on the ways you can help them and others. It makes them happy, which makes them want to make you happy, and it helps everyone get more from life. This doesn't happen by complaining, criticizing, or demanding attention. It happens by having a mission nobler than the person, which is thinking every day of how you can please someone.
This helps since trying to please others keeps us from thinking of ourselves, which halts worrying thoughts. It brings a sense of meaning to what could feel like a senseless and empty life.
When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.
Even if you live a boring life with not many chances to help those in huge need, like orphans, there are ways to make others happy. One of the simplest ways is listening! We all meet lots of people each day who want to share themselves with someone. Showing an eager, honest interest in them and their lives rarely fail to make them smile. Treat them like individuals instead of cogs in a machine. Give them a genuine compliment, ask them how they're feeling, and show them sympathy or empathy for their struggles. People have a natural thirst for recognition and we all have the power to quench it in others.
Do something every day that makes another smile.