The first piece of advice that comes from Dale Carnegie’s seminal book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is don’t condemn, don’t complain and don’t criticize. In other words be happy and stay positive.
Carnegie published the book in 1936, and it has gone on to sell over 30 million copies. The book went on to be named #19 on Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential books in 2011. The book may be responsible for launching the entire self-help industry. And his first piece of advice was about mental attitude.
I come into contact with so many people in so many professions and industries that have read the books and taken the courses – yet, I still hear so much criticism, complaints and condemnation. Especially these days. You can bet that if you have a stressful work-life there is plenty of complaining going on.
I assume if it were that easy then we would have happier people working in happier workplaces. I also guess that happiness must be in high demand if so many people have been spending their hard earned money on the search for joy.
Maybe they’re just going about it in the wrong way.
My recent blog posts have centered around my latest book, A Short Guide to a Long Career, which you can download free from this blog. This post is about improving your point of view which may just be a better starting point for happiness than trying to remember never to complain, condemn or criticize. I am a big fan of simple ideas that I can create habits of thought around…let me explain.
Tip #3 in my Short Guide suggests that we improve our point of view. You know, as the famous guru once said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
The problem is that is hard to change the way we look at things. I love the idea of reducing complex ideas into simple rules of thumb. This is known as a heuristic which is defined as “Pertaining to the use of the general knowledge gained by experience, sometimes expressed as “using a rule-of-thumb.”
And heuristics can make our lives easy…if we can pull up the right rule at the right time. That’s why studying what truly creates positive emotions and happiness is more effective. Once we know what creates happiness and success then we can use our rules of thumb to create habits that will guide us on how to live a happy life.
And it all starts with mindset.
If you are unfamiliar with that word, or use it like just another common piece of your vocabulary, then I suggest you read Carolyn Dweck’s very remarkable book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
It’s a good starting point for those of us who fall into the “oh so human” trait of negativity through judgement which leads to —complaining, criticizing and condemnation.
In time we develop a more positive worldview or perception of how really is rather than some of the negative explanations we create that lead us down a gloomy path.
Dweck’s research led her to describe two basic mindsets: the fixed mindset which is also called the judging mindset, and the growth mindset. I won’t spoil this movie, but I will tell you that the growth mindset is preferred.
Short Guide to a Long Career centers around the growing field of positive psychology. After studying this field for the past ten years, I have enrolled in The Flourishing Center’s program for becoming certified in positive psychology. I am realizing the truth in what Michelangelo said after his career was over: “I’m still learning.”
I guess that is what is meant by having a learning mindset. But it’s not just about dentistry (or any vocation)…we really have two tasks—to learn an occupation that we love and to be a good person.
So if you don’t download my book – and you find yourself complaining, criticizing and condemning —here’s a little heuristic to get you through your days whenever you realize that your thoughts are making you feel bad:
Reach for a better thought.