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Zig Ziglar: Staying Positive When Things Get You Down

By Zig Ziglar

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You get back what you send out. I am a very “up” person, and people frequently ask me how I maintain my enthusiasm. I do several things, including reading an average of three hours each day for the past 26 years. One of the fun things I do is to give people my special greeting.  Whether it’s eight o’clock in the morning or eight o’clock at night, I always try to greet others before they have a chance to speak to me.

My greeting is always the same, whether I’m in Auckland, New Zealand, or Augusta, Maine. I use an enthusiastic “good morning!” Interestingly enough, 85% of those who respond will respond by saying “good morning” — even if it’s eight o’clock at night. Many of them cut it short before they finish the word morning, and then say, “It’s not morning!” And I respond, “Then, why did you say ‘good morning’?” They tell me it’s because I said “good morning.” 

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The point I make is significant. If you go out in life looking for friends, they’re hard to find; but if you go out in life to be a friend, you will find them everywhere. What you send out is exactly what you get back. You send out a “good morning,” and in most cases you’ll get back a “good morning.” Send out a cheerful, positive greeting, and most of the time you will get back a cheerful, positive greeting. It’s also true that if you send out a negative greeting, you will, in most cases, get back a negative greeting. I encourage you to make this positive approach to life a way of life. It’ll definitely make things interesting!

Staying focused on what’s important through the ups and downs

Very frequently I’m asked to give my definition of success. Here is one of my responses: I believe success is getting a reasonable number of the things money will buy and all of the things that money won’t buy. (People who say they’re not interested in money will lie about other things, too!)

I confess that I like the things money will buy. I like to live in a nice house, drive a nice car, wear nice clothes, belong to the country club, play on beautiful golf courses, travel to nice places, take my family out for relaxing dinners. I like all of those things, but I love the things that money won’t buy. Money will buy me that house, but not a home. It’ll buy me a companion, but not a friend. It will buy me pleasure, but not happiness. Money will buy me a bed, but not a good night’s sleep. It will buy me a good time, but not peace of mind.

I’m grateful for the fact that I have many of the things money will buy and all of the things that money won’t buy. I know many other people who can make the same statement. I mention that only to say that these things are available and, by following the right procedures, playing by the rules of the game, and dealing with all phases of your life, you can have them all. That’s exciting!

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Success – What It Is and Isn’t

What is success? It is many things to many people. Here are a few signs of success:

  • Success is closing the door to your office at the end of the day with a smile of satisfied contentment crossing your face. It’s knowing that you did a good job and that those who interacted with you had a positive experience.
  • Success is looking forward to getting home and seeing the people you love. It’s being mentally and emotionally free to share yourself with them and to be interested in them. Success is being loved by the people you love.
  • Success is sitting down to pay the bills and knowing that you have enough money to cover them, this month and next month. It’s knowing that you have taken measures to ensure the financial security of your family in the event of your demise.
  • Success is knowing where to turn when it seems that there’s nowhere to turn. Having a spiritual life is akin to eating food and drinking water. It’s necessary!
  • Success is having interests or hobbies to call your own. It’s things that you personally anticipate doing again and again. Having interests gives you joy and peace.
  • Success is waking up in the morning and feeling good. It’s knowing that you eat right and exercise regularly and that you do everything you personally can to ensure continued good health.
  • Success is turning out the lights, slipping under the covers, and thinking to yourself, “It just doesn’t get much better than this!” It’s whispering a prayer of gratitude to your Creator before you fall into a deep, restful sleep.

And here are a few things that success is not:

  • Success isn’t calling home from work for the fourth time this week, apologizing because you’re going to miss dinner with the family again.
  • Success isn’t hurrying into the house and hiding behind closed doors or the television set because “After the day I’ve had, I need my space!”
  • Success isn’t having all the riches in the world and still trying to figure out how to have more of all the riches in the world.
  • Success isn’t physically going to a worship service and mentally writing a to-do list for when you get home.
  • Success isn’t all work and no play.
  • Success isn’t burning the candle at both ends and living on a diet of food that’s delivered through little windows.
  • Success isn’t spending mental energy figuring out how to explain why your project isn’t going to come in on time, why you have to miss your child’s school play, why you can’t pay the bill in full as you promised, why your eyes are red and your blood pressure is going through the roof, why you’re canceling your golf game, and why you just don’t find any joy in living.

Success is directly related to having a balanced life. If any one area is out of sync, all the areas of your life suffer. Take the time to examine your life and take small steps to gain balance.

Cheerful, Upbeat People Reproduce Cheerful, Upbeat People

Earlier, I mentioned to you the benefits of greeting people with an enthusiastic “Good morning!” even when it’s 8:00 p.m. The reason is simple: The best way for me to feel upbeat and optimistic is for me to make an effort to make others feel upbeat and optimistic.

Admittedly, on rare occasions I get back a less than chipper reply, but from my perspective, that’s their problem and not mine. For each stinking-thinking reply I get, I get back a hundred positive ones. The other reason I say “good morning” is that I always believe the best part of the day is still in front of me. As far as I’m concerned, the use of the word morning is legitimate.

When someone beats me to the draw and says something like “good morning; how are you?” I always respond in one of two ways. I will either say, “Better than good, and that’s an understatement,” or “Super good, but I’m getting better!” Almost without exception after an interchange like that, the other person is smiling. When I cause someone else to smile, I leave that person slightly better than I found him or her, which makes me feel better.

Phase two of this approach to life is what I say when I part company with an individual. Instead of the usual “have a good day,” I say, “I’ll see you over the top!,” which also brings a smile. Just in case you’re wondering if that is the “real world,” my answer is, “You bet it is!” One of the interesting psychological truths is that logic will not change an emotion, but action will. This approach is initiating a physical action that will, in fact, make me feel better while also making the other person feel better. This validates the concept that you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

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