Heaven Helps Those Who Act


             PART 3

Heaven Helps Those Who Act

Nothing happens by itself. It all will come your way once you understand that you have to make it come your way, by your own exertions.

— Ben Stein

          LESSON 9

Associate with Positive People

A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.

—The Living Bible, Proverbs 27

In high school, Mike spent a lot of time with a bunch of guys in his neighborhood. According to Mike, these guys just liked to sit on the front porch and watch cars go by. They had no goals and no dreams. They were always negative.

   Whenever Mike suggested they do something new, the others would discourage him. “It’s stupid” or “not cool,” they told him. Mike just went along with them, so he could remain part of the group.

   When Mike went off to college, he still ran into some negative people. But he also met people who were positive... who wanted to learn... who wanted to achieve things. Mike decided to spend his time with the positive people. Almost immediately, Mike started to feel much better about himself. He developed a great attitude. He began to set goals.

   And I’m happy to tell you Mike now runs his own successful video production company and has a wonderful family. One by one, he is accomplishing all of the goals he has set. When I asked Mike what happened to his high school friends, he told me, “They still live in the same neighborhood. They’re still negative. And they’re still doing nothing with their lives!”

   Mike added, “I’d never be where I am now if I kept hanging out with those guys. I’d still be at the corner deli playing pin-ball.”

   Mike’s story is a great reminder about the influence others have on our lives. And yet sometimes we get in the habit of being with certain people — and we just don’t think about the consequences.

   Have you ever heard the axiom “Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are” ? There’s a lot of wisdom in that simple statement. Have you given much thought to how this principle has been molding and shaping your life?

   Think back to when you were growing up. Do you remember how concerned our parents were about who we hung out with? Our mom or dad wanted to meet our friends and know all kinds of details about them. Why? Our parents knew that we’d be greatly influenced by our friends... that we’d tend to pick up some of their habits...and that we’d probably do the things our friends were doing. Our parents were concerned for good reason. And I’ll bet that if you have children, you closely watch their friends — because of the impact these youngsters will have on your children.

Toxic People And Nourishing People

In today’s literature, we see the terms toxic people and nourishing people. As you might expect, toxic people are the ones who always dwell on the negative. The dictionary defines toxic as “poisonous”; toxic people continually spew their verbal poison. In contrast, the dictionary definition of nourishing is “to promote the growth of.” Nourishing people are positive and supportive. They lift your spirits and are a joy to be around.

   Toxic people will always try to drag you down to their level. They hammer away at you with all of the things you can’t do and all of the things that are impossible. They bar-rage you with gloomy statements about the lousy economy, the problems in their life, the problems soon to be in your life and the terrible prospects for the future. If you’re lucky, they might even throw in a few words about their aches and pains.

We become part of what we are around.

— Unknown

   After listening to toxic people, you feel listless and drained. Motivational speaker Les Brown refers to these people as “Dream Killers.” Psychologist Jack Canfield describes them as “energy vampires” because they suck all the positive energy out of you. Have you ever been with a negative person — and felt as if that individual were physically taking energy from you? I think we’ve all had that experience many times. One thing is certain: Spend time with toxic people and their negative messages will wear you down.

   On the other hand, how do you feel when you’re around people who are positive, enthusiastic and supportive? You’re energized and inspired. There’s something truly amazing about positive people. They seem to have a positive energy that lights up a room. When you’re around them, you start to pick up their attitude and you feel as if you have added strength to vigorously pursue your own goals.

   When I think about positive people, my friend John Lisicich immediately comes to mind. Whenever I speak with John, I feel like I can conquer the world. John is simply the most positive person you could ever meet.

   I like to think of myself as a very positive person. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most positive, I’d probably give myself a 9.5. I’d have to give John Lisicich a 14! He’s just off the charts. He’s always positive, always enthusiastic. And he gives a tremendous lift to everyone who cross-es his path. His attitude inspires people to greatness!

   Can you see how your attitude might improve if you had a friend like John in your life?

Those Silly Songs On The Radio

I’m sure it has happened to you many times. You hear a song on the radio, and you say to yourself, “What a ridiculous song.” Later that day, you hear the same song again. The following day, you hear that song a few more times. As the song climbs the charts, you can’t get away from it. You hear it several times each day for a week.

   Then something incredible happens. You’re sitting at home and all of a sudden, you start to hum or sing that silly song! If, at that very moment, I were to ask you what you think of the song, you’d tell me, “It’s horrible.” Then why on earth are you singing it? The reality is, whatever you hear over and over will be at the forefront of your consciousness.

   As you also know, once that song becomes less popular... and isn’t played as frequently on the radio... you’ll tend to think about it (and sing it to yourself!) much less often. There’s an important lesson here. The mind tends to  dwell upon whatever is repeated over and over. Unfortunately, the mind doesn’t discriminate between messages that are good for us and those that are harmful.

Your friends will stretch your vision... or choke your dreams. 

— Unknown

If we hear something often enough, we will tend to believe it... and act upon it. Just as a song repeated many times will get us thinking about that song, so too will repeated thoughts about success get us thinking about success!

   So if we’ll make sure to fill our mind with positive messages, we’re going to be more positive and move forward boldly to achieve our goals. The more positive reinforcement the better. And where can we get this positive reinforcement? Well, one way is to read motivational books. Congratulations... because you’re doing that right now! In addition, we can listen to motivational tapes — and spend lots of time with positive people.

Smokey’s Sponge Theory

I’ve learned a lot about attitude and the importance of surrounding myself with positive people from my friend Glen “Smokey” Stover. Smokey worked in sales for 45 years in the cemetery and funeral home industry. While this may sound like a gloomy field, let me assure you that Smokey is a positive dynamo! Every time I get off the phone with Smokey, I feel terrific.

   Smokey explained to me that human beings are like sponges: We “soak up” whatever people around us are saying. So, if we spend time with someone who’s negative, we sponge up the negatives and it affects our attitude. Of course, the reverse is also true. When we hang around positive people we soak up the positive. We feel better... and perform better.

   I once asked Smokey, “What do you do if you’re speaking with a negative person?”

   He said, “I get away from that person as soon as I can. I’ll say something like, ‘Gosh, it’s been good to see you, Charlie,’ and I move on to another person.”

   Then I asked Smokey, “Did you ever have a friend who was negative?”

   “Not for very long,” he said.

Well put, Smokey!

Evaluate Your Friendships

It’s crucial that you evaluate your friendships from time to time — even those you’ve maintained for many years. Trust me, this isn’t a minor issue. Those who occupy your time have a significant impact on your most priceless possession — your mind!

   Are you surrounding yourself with negative friends and spending a lot of time with them in your leisure hours? If so, I’m going to ask you to think about spending much less time with these people — or even no time at all with them.

   Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? After all, I’m suggesting that you limit — or eliminate — your involvement with some long-standing friends. When I tell people this at my seminars, invariably someone will raise a hand and accuse me of being cold or uncaring. The audience member will typically say, “Shouldn’t we try to help our negative friends instead of dumping them?”

Are the things around you helping you toward success or are they holding you back?

— W. Clement Stone

   Well, you’re free to do whatever you think is best, and each situation must be dealt with on its own unique facts. However, I’ve found that in most cases, hanging around these negative friends doesn’t help them — and it doesn’t help you, either! Everyone gets dragged down because most negative people don’t want to change. They just want someone to listen to their tales of woe.

   If you have a strong urge to spend time with negative friends, ask yourself: “Why am I choosing to be with these people?” Consciously or unconsciously, you may be choosing to hold yourself back — to be less than you are capable of becoming.

   By the way, I think it’s wonderful to try to help someone overcome their negativity. But if you’ve been trying for several years... and aren’t getting anywhere... maybe it’s time to move on!

   Let me clarify one important point. I’m not making a judgment here that negative people are any less worthy than other people. I’m saying there are consequences if you spend time with people who are negative. What are the consequences? You’ll be less happy and less successful than you could be.

Toxic Relatives

What do you do if you happen to have toxic relatives? Obviously, this is a touchy issue. What I’m going to suggest is that you don’t turn your back on your family members. Family ties are precious, and I think we must make every effort to maintain harmonious family relationships.

   Even so, I recommend that you put some controls in place that reduce the impact your toxic relatives have on your life. You’re not abandoning them or refusing to speak with them, but you are putting some limits on your involvement with them.

   For example, if you have negative relatives, I suggest that you don’t go out of your way to call them on the phone several times each day if you know they’re going to put you down or criticize your every move. What good can possibly come from that? We get bombarded with enough negativity as it is — just turn on the radio or TV or read a newspaper. Do we need our relatives to provide even more negative news? I don’t think so!

   And here’s another suggestion that will work equally well whether you’re talking with a friend or a relative. When the discussion moves to a negative subject, resist the temptation to accuse the other person of being negative. That will usually makes things even worse. Instead, gently shift the conversation to a more positive topic.

   Remember that I’m not asking you to disown your relatives or refuse to attend family functions. This is about limiting your contacts with negative relatives so you don’t get dragged down to their level!

Positive People In The Workplace

Just about every organization has some negative people working there. And sometimes you have to interact and work alongside these people. But don’t go out of your way to spend time with these prophets of gloom and doom.

   For instance, if you frequently have lunch with negative people at work, stop having lunch with them! All they’re doing is filling your mind with negativity. You can’t perform at your best if you allow these people to dump their negative garbage into your mind. There’s no need to be nasty or to tell them off. You should be able to find a diplomatic way of distancing yourself from this “poisonous” group.

Good friends are good for your health.

— Dr. Irwin Sarason

   Instead, take charge. Be proactive. Make it a point to eat at your desk... to take a client out to lunch... or to sit at a different table in the cafeteria. Do whatever you have to do to make lunch a positive experience.

   Make no mistake about it. Positive people are welcomed in any organization... and negative people are hurting their chances for advancement. The problem of negative workers has gotten so bad that I recently got a brochure in the mail announcing a full-day seminar entitled “How To Legally Fire Employees With Attitude Problems!”

   The business community is waking up to the fact that when it comes to productivity in the workplace, attitude is everything!

Choose Your Friends Wisely

As I said at the beginning of this lesson, “Tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are.” If you’re serious about getting a raise or a promotion at work... succeeding in your own business... or improving yourself as a human being, then you have to start associating with people who can take you to the next level.

   As you increase your associations with nourishing people, you’ll feel better about yourself and have renewed energy to achieve your goals. You’ll become a more positive, upbeat person — the kind of person others love to be around. I used to think it was important to associate with positive people and to limit involvement with negative people. Now, I believe it’s essential if you want to be a high achiever and a happy individual.

So, surround yourself with positive, nourishing people — they’ll lift you up the ladder of success.


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