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Have a Great Day
Daily Affirmations for Positive Living
By Norman Vincent Peale
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1985 Norman Vincent Peale
All rights reserved.
At the New Year, we usually resolve to quit something. There is a psychological law of quitting. It's this: The more you keep quitting, the easier quitting becomes. I know, for I've spent a lot of time quitting fattening foods. But I finally discovered how to quit successfully. Quit for one meal, then two, then three. By now it begins to get tough. So, you get tougher, quit the next day and the next. After a while, pride enters the picture to help you. You begin to boast about all the things you haven't eaten. Then you point with pride to your belt, for you have tightened it to the last notch. This is called positive quitting and can be applied to anything you want to change in your life.
Anybody can do just about anything with himself that he really wants to and makes up his mind to do. We all are capable of greater things than we realize. How much one actually achieves depends largely on: 1. Desire. 2. Faith. 3. Persistent effort. 4. Ability. But if you are lacking in the first three factors, your ability will not balance out the lack. So concentrate on the first three and the results will amaze you.
The way to success: First have a clear goal, not a fuzzy one. Sharpen this goal until it becomes specific and clearly defined in your conscious mind. Hold it there until, by the process of spiritual and intellectual osmosis of which I wrote in my introduction to this book, it seeps into your unconscious. Then you will have it because it has you. Surround this goal constantly with positive thoughts and faith. Give it positive follow-through. That is the way success is achieved.
To affirm a great day is a pretty sure way to have one. When awakening, get out of bed and stretch to your full height, saying aloud, "This is going to be a great day." What you say strongly is a kind of command, a positive, affirmative attitude that tends to draw good results to you.
Go forward confidently, energetically attacking problems, expecting favorable outcomes. When obstacles or difficulties arise, the positive thinker takes them as creative opportunities. He welcomes the challenge of a tough problem and looks for ways to turn it to advantage. This attitude is a key factor in impressive careers and great living.
At Dunkirk, the fate of the British nation hung upon getting the fighting men off the beaches and back to England. During the most difficult hour, a colonel rushed up to General Alexander, crying, "Our position is catastrophic!" The general replied: "Colonel, I don't understand big words. Just get busy and get those men out of here!" That's the kind of thinking needed in crises. Do the simple necessary.
Fear can infect us early in life until eventually it cuts a deep groove of apprehension in all our thinking. To counteract it, let faith, hope, and courage enter your thinking. Fear is strong, but faith is stronger yet. The Bible tells us, "... And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not ..." (Revelation 1:17). His hand is always upon you, too.
As an emotion, anger is always hot. To reduce an emotion, cool it. Some people count to ten, but perhaps the first ten words of the Lord's Prayer will work even better: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name" (Matthew 6:9). Say that ten times and anger will lose its power.
Once, when I felt I had done an especially poor job in the pulpit on a Sunday morning, forgetting the best things I had to say and saying the poorest things, I was pretty discouraged. An old preacher, a polished orator in his day, patted me on the back. "Don't let it bother you, son," he said consolingly. "Forget it. The congregation will, and you might as well make it unanimous."
I shall never forget Ralph Rockwell. He was the farmer on our place in the country. Ralph was a New Englander of the old school, always caring for the place as though it were his own. He said to me once, when I was presuming to give him advice: "Tell you what, Dr. Peale, you do the preaching. I'll do the farming." It is good to remember to take advice as well as give it.
George Reeves was a huge man, 6 feet 2, weighing 240 pounds. He was my teacher in the fifth grade. In class, he would suddenly shout, "Silence." Then he would print in big letters on the blackboard the word CAN'T. Turning to the class, he would demand, "And now what shall I do?" Knowing what he wanted, we chanted back, "Knock the T off the CAN'T." With a sweeping gesture, he would erase it, leaving the word CAN. Dusting the chalk from his fingers, he would say, "Let that be a lesson to you — you can if you think you can."
The place was Korea, the hour midnight. It was bitter cold, the temperature below zero. A big battle was building for the morning. A burly U.S. marine was leaning against a tank eating cold beans out of a can with a penknife. A newspaper correspondent watching him was moved to propound a philosophical question: "Look," he said, "if I were God and could give you what you wanted most, what would you ask for?" The marine dug out another penknife of beans, thought reflectively, then said, "I would ask for tomorrow." Perhaps so would we all — a great tomorrow.
My college classmate Judson Sayre started with nothing and became one of the most successful salesmen in our country. At dinner, in his apartment on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, we got to talking about having a great day — for he was expert at it. "Come look at my mirror," he said. He had pasted a sign there which read:
Want a great day?
Believe a great day.
Pray a great day.
Deserve a great day.
Take God with you for a great day.
Get going and make it a great day.
At one time I lived in upstate New York, where the winters are quite cold. And the roads would freeze and melt and freeze again. Come springtime, they were pretty badly broken up and rutted. One early April day, I came to a bad stretch of road where someone had put up a handmade sign: "Choose your rut well. You'll be in it for the next twenty-five miles." Pretty good idea to get into the right rut, isn't it?
Obviously, he was a happy man. He was Joe of Joe's Place, a little lunch counter I found one night. There were about a dozen stools occupied, for the most part by elderly men and a couple of older women from the neighborhood. He set a steaming bowl of soup before an old man whose hands shook. "Mamie made it special for you, Mr. Jones." One elderly and rather stumbling lady started to go out the door. "Be careful, Mrs. Hudson, the cars go pretty fast out there. And, oh yes, look at the full moon over the river. It's mighty pretty tonight." I sat there thinking that Joe was happy because he really loves people.
The "as if" principle works. Act "as if" you were not afraid and you will become courageous, "as if" you could and you'll find that you can. Act "as if" you like a person and you'll find a friendship.
Attitudes are more important than facts. Certainly, you can't ignore a fact, but the attitude with which you approach it is all-important. The secret of life isn't what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you.
You can do amazing things if you have strong faith, deep desire, and just hang in there.
The best of all ways to get your mind off your own troubles is to try to help someone else with theirs. As an old Chinese proverb says, "When I dig another out of trouble, the hole from which I lift him is the place where I bury my own."
Said William James, "Believe that you possess significant reserves of health, energy, and endurance, and your belief will help create the fact."
A man who had suffered a succession of devastating blows said something I liked: "I came through because I discovered a comeback quality had been built into me."
A whimsical old preacher, speaking on a familiar text, said, "And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest of these is common sense."
Don't knock yourself out trying to compete with others. Build yourself up by competing with yourself. Always keep on surpassing yourself.
Work and live enthusiastically. Take successes gratefully. Face failures phlegmatically — that is, with a "so what?" attitude. And aim to take life as it comes, philosophically.
Yesterday ended last night. Every day is a new beginning. Learn the skill of forgetting. And move on.
Self-confidence and courage hinge on the kind of thoughts you think. Nurture negative thoughts over a long period of time and you are going to get negative results. Your subconscious is very accommodating. It will send up to you exactly what you send down to it. Keep on sending it fear and self-inadequacy thoughts and that is what it will feed back to you. Take charge of your mind and begin to fill it with healthy, positive, and courageous thoughts.
There is a three-point program for doing something with yourself. Find yourself, motivate yourself, commit yourself. These three will produce results.
The famous Olympic champion Jesse Owens said that four words made him: Determination. Dedication. Discipline. Attitude.
Do not exclusively say your prayers in the form of asking God for something. The prayer of thanksgiving is much more powerful. Name all the fine things you possess, all the wonderful things that have happened to you, and thank God for them. Make that your prayer.
The controlled person is a powerful person. He who always keeps his head will always get ahead. Edwin Markham said, "At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky is a place of central calm." The cyclone derives its power from a calm center. So does a person.
Theodore Roosevelt, a strong and tough-minded man, said: "I have often been afraid. But I would not give into it. I simply acted as though I was not afraid and presently the fear disappeared." Fear is afraid itself and backs down when you stand up to it.CHAPTER 2
It is winter now and the snows can come. It's good to warm yourself before a roaring fire on a winter's night. Lowell Thomas, in persuading me to take up cross-country skiing, said, "To glide quietly on the snow into a grove of great old trees, their bare branches lifted to a cloudless blue sky, and to listen to the palpable silence, is to live in depth." In return, I quoted to him Thomas Carlyle's thoughtful line, "Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together."
I once knew an extraordinarily successful salesman who told me that every morning he says aloud, three times, "I believe, I believe, I believe." "You believe in what?" I asked. "In God, in Jesus, and in the life God gave me," he declared.
At dinner with some Chinese friends, the conversation turned to the stress and tension so prevalent today. "Bad way to live," said an aged man present. "Tension is foolish. Always take an emergency leisurely." "Who said that?" I asked. "I did," he replied with a smile, "and, if you quote it, just say an old Chinese philosopher said it." Well, it is sound philosophy. "Always take an emergency leisurely."
To have great days, it helps to be a tough-minded optimist. Tough doesn't mean swaggering, sneering, hard-boiled. The dictionary definition is a masterpiece: "Tough — having the quality of being strong or firm in texture, but flexible; yielding to force without breaking, capable of resisting great strain without coming apart." And Webster defines optimism as "the doctrine that the goods of life overbalance the pain and evil of it, to minimize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities, or anticipate the best possible outcome; a cheerful and hopeful temperament."
My wife, Ruth, and I have a friend, a charming lady down South, who has the typical accent and a big smile. It is her habit every morning, rain or shine, to fling open her front door and say aloud: "Hello there. Good morning." She explains: "Oh, I love the morning. It brings me the most wonderful surprises and gifts and opportunities." Naturally, she has a great day every day.
Henry Ford was once asked where his ideas came from. There was a saucer on his desk. He flipped it upside down, tapped the bottom, and said: "You know that atmospheric pressure is hitting this object at fourteen pounds per square inch. You can't see it or feel it, but you know it is happening. It's that way with ideas. The air is full of them. They are knocking you on the head. You only have to know what you want, then forget it and go about your business. Suddenly the idea will come through. It was there all the time."
To maintain a happy spirit, and to do so come what may, is to make sure of a great day every day. Wise old Shakespeare tells us that "a light heart lives long." It seems that a happy spirit is a tonic for long life. Seneca, the old Roman, also a thinker rich in wisdom, sagely observed, "It is indeed foolish to be unhappy now because you may be unhappy at some future time."
Someone tells the story of when, down in North Carolina, a man asked a weather-beaten mountaineer how he was feeling. "It's like this," drawled the man from the hills after a few seconds of silence. "I'm still kickin', but I ain't raisin' any dust." When you get right down to it, if we just keep on kickin', there is always hope.
How many unhappy people suffer the mental paralysis of fear, self-doubt, inferiority, and inadequacy! Dark thoughts blind them to the possible outcomes which the mind is well able to produce. But optimism infuses the mind with confidence and builds up belief in oneself. Result? The revitalized mind, newly energized, comes to grips with problems. Keep the paralysis of unhealthy thoughts out of that incomparable instrument, your mind.
Optimism is a philosophy based on the belief that basically life is good, that, in the long run, the good in life overbalances the evil. Also that, in every difficulty, every pain, there is some inherent good. And the optimist means to find the good. No one ever lived a truly upbeat life without optimism working in his mind.
In Tokyo I once met another American, an inspiring man, from Pennsylvania. Crippled from some form of paralysis, he was on an around-the-world journey in a wheelchair, getting a huge kick out of all his experiences. I commented that nothing seemed to get him down. His reply was a classic: "It's only my legs that are paralyzed. The paralysis never got into my mind."
Practice loving people. It is true that this requires effort and continued practice, for some are not very lovable, or so it seems — with emphasis upon "seems." Every person has lovable qualities when you really learn to know him.
A sure way to a great day is to have enthusiasm. It contains a tremendous power to produce vitality, vigor, joyousness. So great is enthusiasm as a positive motivational force that it surmounts adversity and difficulty and, moreover, if cultivated, does not run down. It keeps one going strong even when the going is tough. It may even slow down the aging process for, as Henry Thoreau said, "None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."
On Valentine's Day I might call your attention to the law called the law of attraction — like attracts like. If you constantly send out negative thoughts, you tend to draw back negative results to yourself. This is as true as the law that lifts the tide. But a person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results.
A lifetime on this wonderful and exciting earth doesn't last very long. It is here today and gone tomorrow, so thank God every day for it. Life is good when you treat it right. Love life and it will love you back.
Life is not always gentle — far from it. From time to time, it will hand you disappointment, grief, loss, or formidable difficulty, often when least expected. But never forget you can surmount the worst it brings, keep on going, and make your way up again. You will find that you are stronger and maybe even better off for having had some tough experiences.
We are so accustomed to being alive that we take it for granted. The thrill and wonder of it doesn't often occur to us. Do you ever get up in the morning and look out the window, or go to the door and breathe in the fresh air, and go back in and say to your spouse, "Isn't it great to be alive?" Life is such a tremendous privilege, so exciting, that it is a cause for constant thanksgiving.
Excerpted from Have a Great Day by Norman Vincent Peale. Copyright © 1985 Norman Vincent Peale. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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