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What makes your heart sing?

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and "one of the best motivational speakers in the country," according to CNN's Larry King. A business owner for over 22 years, with over 8,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-...

Take a moment to think about the things that you consider positive. What television programs could you watch? What books could you read? What audio programs could you listen to? What activities could you include into your daily life that would contribute to your well-being? Take a piece of paper and create a list of positive, uplifting things you could do to change your perspective, and then commit to that plan of conditioning.

By the way, I'm referring to daily conditioning. You could never go to just one motivational seminar and say, "That's it, I'm positive for life." You'd never go to just one aerobics class and say, "That's it, I'm fit for life." To create a new program of things that make you happy--things that make your heart sing--requires commitment, focus, and practice, practice, practice.

I absolutely love the connotation of the phrase "that which makes your heart sing." If you don't know exactly what makes your heart sing, it's fine if you just go through the motions with some of the activities suggested below until your soul catches hold.

Some people say that having fresh flowers in their house makes their day go better. If that works for you, then commit to it--nice and simple, as it should be. How about turning off the ten o'clock news and, instead, playing some soft music and lighting candles around the house? Maybe some nice conversation over dinner with a good friend is positive programming for you, or going to the gym, doing volunteer work, or reading a good book before going to bed. Here are a few more ideas to jump-start your thinking.

Turn your car and commuting time into a learning experience

If I were asked to name one practice that would supersede all others in my personal journey to happiness, it would most definitely be listening to motivational audio programs in my car.

In 1989 I bought a new car, and thanks to the challenge given by many mentors, I decided right then and there on the showroom floor that I would never listen to music in that car. Now, I happen to love music. I have a huge CD collection and a concert grand piano in my living room. However, when I'm in my car, I consider that time to be valuable, sacred time for me. That's when I can listen to the voices of my mentors without interruption.

Even if your commute time is only ten minutes, how much better could your day be if you spent that time getting your mind focused by listening to a powerful motivational program?

Drive a clean car

As unusual as this may seem to some people, one of the things that makes me happy is driving a clean car. My day goes so much better when I'm driving around in a clean car, yet I'll sometimes drive a dirty car for weeks. No one is going to steal my car, wash it for me, and then bring it back. My daily commitment to positive conditioning and training means doing the simple things that will make my day go better, including driving in a clean car.

Watch comedy television shows

Plenty of books and preachers will tell you to get rid of your television set. Although that's good advice for some, it's not for everyone. Sometimes at the end of a long day, only a mindless, silly sitcom can help me turn off my racing mind. I've read lots of motivational books, been to many positive seminars, and consider myself a nice guy, but I still own three TV sets. However, I am very disciplined as to what I will watch and what I won't. Trust me or ask anyone who knows me: My channel surfing won't stop on a negative or violent movie or talk show for even a second.

Study a be nice curriculum

I have a friend who, for some bizarre reason, loves reading books about serial killers. I once gave her Walt Disney's biography to read, but she said she had no interest in studying him.

It was Mac McMillan who said, "You are the same today that you'll be five years from now except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read." If you love reading trashy romance novels, then five years from now your life will be a trashy romance novel. But if you read inspirational stories about friendship, volunteerism, or people who've overcome amazing obstacles and accomplished incredible things, then your life will be on that path -- you'll be headed toward a life that makes a difference, filled with bliss and happiness.

Make a list of people in your life Who are nice

Study them. Honor them. Place their attributes of "being nice" high on your list of things to admire, celebrate, and aspire to. Place niceness over good looks, wealth, intelligence, or any other characteristic, and you'll soon begin to notice and attract nice people. That's great, because they come into your life to teach you what you most need to learn.

Collect stories of hope and inspiration

Look for nice, positive stories to combat the negative ones people want to share and recite. The next time someone starts telling a negative story, you can jump in with, "Yeah? But did you hear about those amazing kids who all shaved their heads so their classmate going through chemotherapy wouldn't feel out of place?"

Collecting and sharing stories like these can make you feel good on a regular basis. Don't wait until you're depressed or desperate to seek out positive programming and do the things I've recommended here. If you do, the most you can hope for is to dig yourself out of the hole you're in. Instead, if you program your mind and your life with positive information and experiences on a daily basis, you begin to build up a reservoir that you can draw from later. That reservoir is like a be nice bank account. Anytime you do get depressed, you can draw from it without feeling so spiritually and emotionally bankrupt. Depression can then be exactly what it is: a natural, normal, human emotion, not emotional bankruptcy.

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