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Two Paths to Greater Happiness and Success

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

"The number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying." ~ Tom Hopkins

I've asked hundreds of thousands of people what they want out of life, and the strange thing is ... I get one of two answers from almost everyone. People say, "I just want to be happy" or "I want to be successful." That's fine, but HOW do you make sure you get those things? For the moment, let me give you two brief answers to those questions...

1. Pump up your enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is important. No, let me re-phrase that. Enthusiasm is crucial.

Indeed, some of the best minds and most successful people in the world have said as much. Author and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Great things have always been accomplished with enthusiasm, not apathy. And Charles Schwab, who started out as a laborer and finished as the Chairman of the Board of Bethlehem Steel, noted, "A person can succeed at anything for which there is enthusiasm."

In addition to being crucial in your own life, enthusiasm is also one of the keys to successful leadership. If you want more cooperation from others, you must have enthusiasm. Your followers will not get more excited about a project than you are personally.

Your enthusiasm as a leader sets the standard for everyone else's energy and commitment ... because enthusiasm is contagious. Enthusiasm is a force that jumps from person to person like an electrical spark. In fact, it is almost impossible to be exposed to someone's enthusiasm for very long without catching some of it.

If enthusiasm is so critical to your success and happiness, then you're probably wondering what is this dynamic force. Literally speaking, the English word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek word "entheos," which means "filled with God" or "full of life and spirit."

But I like to think of enthusiasm as three dimensional: physical, mental, and spiritual. Physically, enthusiasm is pure, rugged energy, not a sweet syrupy emotion that caves in when the difficult times arrive. Mentally, enthusiasm is intellectual zeal and fervor, a desire for growth, learning, and a better life. Spiritually, enthusiasm is the boldness to believe that good balances out evil in life and that there is something good to be found in every situation.

Of course, you may say, "That's all well and good, but what if a person is not enthusiastic?" What if you personally struggle with low self-esteem, a certain degree of apathy, or an attitude of "another day, another dollar"?

So one way to grab more of the happiness and success you want is to pump up your enthusiasm. But a second way is just as powerful, and chances are you never thought about it.

2. Take more risks.
Everyone has a comfort zone, and to some extent, everyone lives inside their comfort zone. People just seem to do what is comfortable to do. So they stick with familiar faces at a party, sit in the same place at church, go to coffee with the same people at work, and do things "the way they've always done them."

Unfortunately, you will pay a price when you spend too much of your life in comfort-zone living. When you skip new adventures and bypass new learning experiences, you end up feeling blah, bored, or unenthusiastic.

But the exciting thing about stepping outside your comfort zone is that the payoff is always positive. If you take a risk and the risk works out the way you had hoped it would, you feel pumped up and enthusiastic. If the risk doesn't work out the way you had hoped it would, you feel disappointed, of course, but you also feel proud of yourself for having the courage to try.

So take more risks. As you take more risks, I'm not suggesting that you take stupid, dangerous risks just for the heck of it. No, I'm suggesting that you take "positive" risks for "positive" outcomes. Positive risk means that you try on some new behaviors -- even though they may be uncomfortable -- because you know it's right and good. A positive risk may be sharing your feelings of love, even though you're not that "type" of person, because you know people need to hear about your love. A positive risk may be trying out a new lecture at school, even though the old one was okay, because you know there's a difference between teaching for thirty years and teaching one year thirty times.

To take more positive risks, adopt a "why not" attitude. If a good idea comes into your mind, say "why not?" Why not go for it? As Senator Robert Kennedy once said, "Some people see things as they are and say 'why?' I dream things that never were and ask 'why not?'"

List two positive risks you will take this week and then do them. What did you learn? And what will you do differently next time?

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, "PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success," Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for a more information.
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