Mental Diet: How to Win Friends & Influence People

Mental Diet Entry:

Morning Reading

Duration 10 minutes per day. Each day I strive to be better than I was yesterday. There are those who inspire me, enable my drive to be fierce, and none of which are competition. Every day I focus on my Mental Diet to ensure I am the best version of myself throughout the day, no matter who or what I encounter. I hope these entries inspire you to find and exude your best self.

How to Win Friends & Influence People The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success, Dale Carnegie

July 18, 2022 5:02a

The More You Get Out of This Book, the More You’ll Get Out of Life.

In order to get the most out of this book:

a. Develop a deep driving desire to master the priciples of human relations.

b. Read each chapter twice before going on to the next one.

c. As you read, stop frequently to ask yourself how you can apply each suggestion.

d. Underscore each important idea.

e. Review this book each month.

f. Apply these priciples at every opportunity. use this volume as a working handbook to help you solve your daily problems.

g. Make a lively game out of your learning by offering some friend a dime or a dollar every time he or she catches you violating on of these principles.

h. Check up each week on the progress you are making. Ask yourself what mistakes you have made, what improvement, what lessons you have learned for the future.

i. Keep notes in the back of this book showing how and when you have applied these principles.

The preface to the 1981 edition explains the popularity of the book due to Carnegie writing how he spoke, in an “intensively exuberant, colloquial, conversational manner” and continuous revision to avoid weakening the important message and overall impact of the book due to prominent people, examples, and phrases seeming quaint and dated. “The purpose of revision is to strengthen the book for a modern reader without tampering with the content”.

July 22, 2022 5:08am

How This Book Was Written – and Why

This section of the book maps its conception and evolution. “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business.” Research conducted in the early 19th century showed that a mere “15% of one’s financial success could be attributed to technical knowledge, while 85% is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.”

My favorite point was made halfway through, “. . . the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people – that person is headed for higher earning power.” Please don’t get me wrong, I have no intentions around dollar signs. Money is not my motivating force. When I read arouse enthusiasm – that is when I felt most connected with the text. In today’s world, leading others can be as simple as your observed interactions in a coffee shop to running highly attended organization meetings. We are always leading others, either providing an example of “what TO do, or what NOT TO do” and it will be those who can arouse enthusiasm about those actions that will be most successful.

From nation’s leaders to celebrities, and the common person of the world (in Connecticut, United States)  in the 1920-30’s, they all reported this fervent desire to improve one’s skills with people and there was a void of education on the matter. Step in Dale Carnegie, who interviewed such entities, pored over articles, snippets, old world philosophers and new world psychologists, to then create a rule sheet, which evolved into a bigger sheet, and a leaflet, and a small book, until it eventually is now a good sized book stuffed with unprecedented knowledge.

I am won over by the book’s intention as described in the final sentence of this section, “For ‘the great aim of education’ said Herbert Spencer, ‘is not knowledge but action.’ And this is an action book.”

Excited to get to action. 

July 28, 2022 5:01am

Nine Suggestions to Get the Most out of This Book

Reviewing the principles as noted in A – I, Carnegie provides multiple opportunities of self improvement through mastery. He provides context for each point and summarizes the 9 points on the last page of the section. For someone who understands the value of the written word – to not waste space on paper – I am taking note that we are to read context, read summary, reread context, reread summary.

I keep a very scheduled and detailed itinerary throughout the week between the different organizations I work with, the venue I represent, and the appointments I make on upcoming projects. One takeaway from this section is to sit and reflect weekly on how I handled those interactions in each engagement.

Since I can quickly surmise my weekly interactions, this will be a practice I begin implementing this coming Saturday night, as described in the text. Will I find moments of blunder? Without question. Will I steadily improve? That is the goal. 

“This system of self-analysis, self-education…did more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted. It helped me improve my ability to make decisions – and it aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly.”

August 8, 2022 5:01am

Part One: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

Chapter One: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive.”

My goodness – the past 10 minutes have been grueling, and I wonder if the rest of the book will be this way. 

The biggest takeaway in the past 4 pages that I read, “Let’s realize that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home.”

I have been in this mindset for about 6 years now – the, “Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house.” mentality.

There have been some very close friends who I have been trying to learn how to continue a friendship. Our friends do not always make choices that we agree with and they are not always the best version of themselves – goodness knows that I have spent most of the past 15 years not being the best version of myself, so I speak from a very vulnerable place.

Figuring out the best words to use or the best concept to focus on has plagued me, and I’m not always eloquent. Should they read this, they will most certainly agree – and they may have even more colorful descriptions of my demeanor of “tough love” . . .

Carnegie describes in this first passage of this chapter that even the most notorious of individuals, Al Capone, “Two Gun” Crowley, and Albert Fall, rationalize their behavior and see themselves as the victim of situation. “I don’t see how I could have done any differently from what I have.”

Our society is built on individuals with this mentality, disconcerting as it may be, we all must learn to get along and move forward. I guess that is what this book is teaching me, how to behave around those whom which I do not share common mindset with – this is going to be so much fun – I say with an abundance of sarcasm and a dollop of incredulousness.

Becoming the best version of oneself is definitely not for the faint of heart or the weak willed . . . identifying my shortcomings is annoying, exhausting, and down right hard, and yet I’m looking forward to my reading tomorrow morning. 🙂

August 17, 2022 4:35am

Chapter One: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive.” cont.

“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wound a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior.”

I just wrapped up reading It’s Okay to Be the Boss, by Bruce Tulgan. This concept was identified in his writing as well – if you have an employee who is always late, do not say “Stop being late.” Instead say, “Start being on time.”

This slight change in tactic on the same intention – to get the employee to arrive to work with enough time to start at their start time – rings true to me. 

There are a few key individuals who I interact with on a weekly basis. For some reason, no matter what I do, they must critique me at least once in our interaction. Is it personal? No. I see them interact with others this way as well. Is it intentional? I hardly doubt so, as I don’t believe that they even realize how quick they are to jump on someone for not doing something “the right way”.

I know how it makes me feel. The moment that the person starts to speak, I feel the brakes of my mental gears start to engage. I am immediately defensive and all of my guards come up. I strive to be calm on the outside and not respond with any inflection or “tell” of my inner dialogue – but the pattern they have set puts me on edge, as I know that they are about to criticize, condemn, or complain about something I or someone around us has done.

“As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.” – Hans Selye

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Abraham Lincoln and the process of growth and maturation that he underwent from the time he was a practicing lawyer in Springfield. Illinois to when he was communicating with General Meade during the Battle of Gettysburg as President of the United States.

Eventually, a few of Lincoln’s favorite quotations that he shared often were “Judge not, that ye be not judged” as well as “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

A thoughtful note is included as Lincoln reflects on a poignant letter that he never sent to General Meade in response to the General going against specific orders from Lincoln. This decision resulted in Lee [the opposing force] escaping the battle and retreating with his forces, “If I send this letter, it will relieve my feelings, but it will make Meade try to justify himself. It will make him condemn me. It will arouse hard feelings, impair all his further usefulness as a commander, and perhaps force him to resign from the army.”

How many times have I written or said something to get a rise out of another? Thankfully, it has been fewer and further between in the last few years, and I know there have been moments where I openly criticized someone’s actions in an attempt to wrap my head around why they would behave a specific way.

“The next time we are tempted to admonish somebody, let’s pull a five-dollar bill out of our pocket, look at Lincoln’s picture on the bill, and ask, ‘How would Lincoln handle this problem if he had it?’”

Mark Twain is referenced as having strong temper, and that his wife would “secretly lifted [the letters] out of the mail. They were never sent.”

This statement most resonated with me, “Your bad manners are exceeded only by your bad manners.” as Carnegie describes the response from Richard Harding Davis to his ‘dictated by not read’ notation echoed from a previously received note from Davis. How badly must our pride be bruised for us to really make a fool out of ourselves?

How many times have I jumped through hoops and schemed to “get the last word” and to what end? I hope that I am moving past this, and even today, I found myself making a note to someone cryptically to let them know I was not pleased with their actions. When will I learn? When will I stop needing to make sure that the other party knows that I am right?

I pride myself on saying, “You can tell me 1+1 = 3 and I will tell you that you’re right.” As in, I have no use for conflict or debate if the person is headstrong. I will review details and engage in thoughtful conversation, but I do not “need” to be right. And yet, here I am, still realizing that I am still acting immature and needing to prove “I know more than you think I do.” As Davis denounced, “my bad manners are only exceeded by my bad manners” and it is such an unbecoming realization. 

So – I move onto the next quote highlighted, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” UGH! I am that illogical emotional creature motivated by pride and vanity – and it is immensely sobering.

This book is not for the weak hearted.

“Benjamin Franklin, tactless in his youth, became so diplomatic, so adroit at handling people, that he was made American Ambassador of France. The secret of his success? ‘I will speak ill of no man,’ he said, ‘ . . . and speak all the good I know of everybody.’

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – most fools do.”

“A great man shows his greatness,” says Carlyle, “by the way he treats little men.”

The final thoughts in this chapter are taken from “Father Forgets” which originally appeared as an editorial in the Peoples Home Journal and later condensed in the Reader’s Digest.

The passage brought on such an emotional response from me as a father recounts his treatment of his child, a mere boy striving for his father’s affection and adoration, only to be met with condemnation and criticism.

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing that criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. ‘To know all is to forgive all.’”

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.

Took a mini-hiatus & back at it

December 2, 2022 5:17am

Chapter Two: “The Big Secret of Dealing with People”

The start to this chapter seems pretty straight forward – people like to feel important. Both Sigmund Freud to John Dewey acknowledge this basic “desire” to be great or important. 

Carnegie begins the chapter by identifying the only way way to get anyone to do anything is to make them want to do it. He also quickly rattles off that yes, there are ways to get people to want to do what you want them to do such as by threats of violence or punishment, usually in the case of a criminal, supervisor, or parent.

I know that one of my love languages is “words of affirmation” and that thread of thought is intertwined in this section. “Lincoln once began a letter saying, ‘Everybody likes a compliment.’ William James said, ‘The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.’”

I understand this craving all too well, and I am reflecting on one of my mentors and good friends who would come into work and greet each team member for the day by thanking them for coming to work today. It was so simple, yet so effective, and left such a lasting impression on her staff. They even made t-shirts for all of them to wear that had her picture and the text, “Thank you for coming to work today!” She understood that making others feel important is key to leadership, and whether she knew it at the time or not – it is also a key component to becoming important to others. I know I am not the only one that reveres her as a mentor and a leader.

December 3, 2022 5:23am

Chapter Two: “The Big Secret of Dealing with People” cont.

The following paragraphs are regarding a topic that I am becoming more and more aware of as I mature and work with others. This concept that the encouragement from a mentor or from peers is critical to the longevity of the talent. This is why we must surround ourselves with individuals who are healthy for our lifestyles and work for and with people who believe in building others up rather than tearing people down.

“A rising tide lifts all boats.” – John F. Kennedy

Carnegie ties mental health with this original thought of yesterday’s reading of “the desire to be of importance”. He states, “Some authorities declare that people may actually go insane in order to find, in the dreamland of insanity, the feeling of importance that has been denied them in the harsh world of reality.”

“Why do these people go insane?

I put that question to the head physician of one of our most important psychiatric hospitals. This doctor, who has received the highest honors and the most coveted awards for his knowledge of this subject, told me frankly that he didn’t know why people went insane. Nobody knows for sure. But he did ay that many people who go insane find in insanity a feeling of importance.”

Charles Schwab, the first man to ever earn over one million dollars salary per year in a time when fifty dollars was well off would accredit his earnings largely due to his “ability to deal with people”. Carnegie quotes Schwab and implores the world to share this with youth, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people, the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.

There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors.”

I have been on a journey of not saying a negative thing about another or myself for several years now. I often find myself, even in moments that one might deem it appropriate, will not share negative thoughts about events, world happenings, etc. I find that all of the things that happen in our lives and the lives of others are rational to someone, and with a pinch of compassion, we can find empathy of those on both sides of each scenario.

Some may have a hard time reading those thoughts, especially with some of the world events that have happened as of recent and the events that seem to keep happening again and again without rhyme or reason. There is rhyme and there is reason. It stems from mental health. I will always side with the thought that we need to have more patience, more grace, and more compassion in order to dig ourselves out of the massive hole we have dug regarding this “trifecta of an issue” as a good friend once put it. He described this issue of mental health, addiction, and homelessness as a cycle.

Learning these topics that Dale Carnegie is sharing shines so much light on this topic – and I am only on page 24 of 248. When we shut down others around us, we dim their light. We limit their thoughts. We spread negativity like a blanket across the masses. 

This is why the role of teachers and those who work with children is such a critical position requiring a strong value system founded on love and hope. If only we could treat adults with the same grace that we do children, we may allow our fellow men and women who we see on a day-to-day basis, to open up further and continue their progression. How many people do you know who are quicker to say that they “can’t do something” versus that “they will try a new task or hobby”? I may be digressing a bit much and want to stay on topic, though I find it imperative at any moment that it is applicable, to identify opportunity where we can improve the mental health of masses collectively. Improving mental health is one baby step toward fighting disease, be it of the mind, body, or culture. 

OK – back to the text – he continues on to state the obvious continuation of this thought, that we are quicker to condemn than compliment, “As the old couplet says: ‘Once I did bad and that I heard ever/Twice I did good, but I heard never.’” I appreciate this vow to improve the mentality of those around us, especially even in death, “Carnegie wanted to praise his assistants even on his tombstone. He wrote an epitaph for himself which read: ‘Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself.’

December 26, 2022 5:31am

Today’s reading highlights one of my favorite topics – appreciation.

it starts with a man whose wife has asked for a list of six things he would like to change about her. Rather than listing the dozen things that came to mind and realizing that she could probably list a thousand, he purchased six red roses and sent a note with them to his wife, “I can’t think of six things I would like to change about you. I love you the way you are.” The other women in the same exercise later took a moment to tell the man, “That was the most considerate thing I have ever heard.” and he thought to himself, “It was then I realized the power of appreciation.”

We do not increase self esteem with praise!

Carnegie goes on to compare food to appreciation as nourishment and quotes Alfred Lunt, “There is nothing I need so much as nourishment for my self-esteem.” I was listening to a podcast recently by Jordan B. Peterson, episode 316: Parenting and the Nacissists of Compassion | Stephanie Daives-Arai, and they speak on the topic of Self Esteem. Peterson identifies that self esteem is not how we feel about ourselves, rather if other’s enjoy our company and how we process that information. I included the specific text for further explanation below. Feel free to read it or skip it 💚

Peterson describes (50 minutes in) that he studied self-esteem psychometrically, as a clinician, he was skeptical of the social psychological research purporting to indicate that there is such a thing as “self-esteem” and so he conducted factor-analytic studies which were designed to assess what exactly is self esteem was. He states, “There is no such thing as self esteem. . . [rather]. . . there is trait neuroticism, which is proclivity to anxiety and pain essentially, emotional and physical. People differ in their thresholds for being anxious and being hurt, and if you’re more sensitive, then you will see threats than people who are less sensitive, and that can be useful. If you’re less sensitive, then you’re more robust, and maybe more daring, and that can be useful. There is no way to say what is right in that situation, however, if you’re high in neuroticism and high in sensitivity to negative emotion, you do experience a lot of anxiety and depression. Self esteem is basically, neuroticism minus extroversion, and extroversion is the positive emotion dimension. So, highly neurotic people (people who are highly emotionally sensitive) are more likely self conscious and to think negative thoughts about themselves. That does not mean that that is a fractured self concept driving the negative emotion. . .[this is stating]. . . that negative emotion is base line temperament, and is measurable in infants as early as six months old, and you can ameliorate it to some degree. If you have a child who is sensitive to negative emotion, and you facilitate their autonomous exploration, they can normalize their psychophysiology. There is no such thing as self esteem, it is basically trait neuroticism, and second, you do not remediate trait neuroticism by getting people to focus on their feelings. In fact, making people self-conscious about their feelings makes trait neuroticism worse, because there is no difference between being self conscious and being high in trait neuroticism. The last part of all of that, that is preposterous, is that we don’t remediate people’s self-esteem by continually telling them how wonderful they are [over praise], because what actually regulates the negative emotion, is not their internal psychological state or their attitude toward themselves, it’s whether or not other people like to have them around.”

I found it important to note in this passage that consistent praise does not equate to “fluff, compliments, or flattery”. Carnegie identifies, “The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

Below the bust of a Mexican hero, General Alvaro Obregon in the Chapultepec palace in Mexico City, reads, “Don’t be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.” Carnegie recalls the definition of flattery, “Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself.”

I am a complimenter – which might be a word that I just made up. One who compliments. I make a point to compliment each person I meet in one way, usually on their apparel choice. I do not mean to flatter. I mean to appreciate the person in their choices of style. The compliment is usually my ice-breaker. That is usually where my compliments end and appreciation begin. I believe in showing appreciation, and I live it by thanking my team for coming to work when I see them, I thank the people who help me throughout my day for their service whether at the store, a resource center, or on the phone. I am a firm believer that when people feel appreciated, they take extra care, they give more thought, and they are more likely to find gratitude in others. When we have a grateful heart, we come at life in a different and more beautiful way. When we have gratitude, negativity is repelled and it is so much easier to find the blessing in every situation. With a grateful heart, we start to find less and less situations that we would consider negative. Life is cyclical. The more you smile, the more situations you find yourself in that make you smile, and in turn – the more you smile.

Keep up on my most recent entries.

The content that we feed our brain is as important as the food we nourish ourselves through our digestive tract.

Mental diet includes anything you read, listen to, view, and think about. If you surround yourself with reading and viewing material that is in alignment with your goals, you’ll be more inclined to stay focused.


Monitor your thoughts – make sure you’re being kind with yourself as well as others. Judge less, share grace more often, and you will find a more a peaceful mindset is more attainable than ever before. Good luck on your journey.

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