Habit #6: Accentuate the Positive

Habits of the Mind - Dr. Archibald D. Harl

Habit #6
Accentuate the Positive

“There is very little difference in people,
But that little difference makes a big difference.
The little difference is attitude.
The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

Clement Stone

No matter where you go there are memes and quotes reminding us the importance of being positive.

Positive Attitude Sightings

OpenBible  Goodreads  Brainyquotes  Pinterest

What is your Positive Outlook Factor?

3 if your answer is always,
2 if it is sometimes
1 if it is occasionally
0 if never.

  1. Do you thank a person who finds fault or criticizes you for whatever was truthful?
  2. When a stranger stares at you do you think it is because he/she likes you?
  3. When there is a sudden change of plans or an obstacle to your goal, do you see a hidden advantage in the change or obstacle?
  4. Are you able to compliment others for their success?
  5. Do you remember your past successes more than your failures?
  6. Do you easily recover from setbacks?
  7. By and large, does life seem good to you?

Score Results:

16-21 Excellent. You are thoroughly positive in your outlook. I only hope you’ve been completely honest!

11-15: Good. You are sometimes a positive person and have a foundation on which to build.

8-10: Fair. Your outlook could certainly do with an overhaul.

Below 8: You are in trouble. You clearly need to work on your negative tendencies.

Source: Dr. Archibald Hart copyright 1996 – The Habits of the Mind


Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 7: Be the Right Sort of Optimist
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Habit #5: Value Life’s Little Blessings

Habit of the Mind - Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Habit #5
Value Life’s Little Blessings

“May we never let the things we can’t have or don’t have, or shouldn’t have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have.” Richard L. Evans

This statement is so true. There are times when we allow our anxiety or passion for our pursuits overshadow our relationships with our family and friends. We work hard to obtain the financial independence so we can be debt-free. We spend hours attending webinars and seminars on the internet and around when we can we travel around the globe. When we do that too often, we forsake our relationships and our own personal needs. This is the purpose of this series, “The Habit of Your Mind.” Sin did not become sin until the law was introduced. These habits have been introduced to you so you know “how to do better.”

Dr. Hart shares the story of The Guinness Book of Records entry “The Greatest Miser”, Hetty Green. She was a financier and New York Stock Exchange member whose desire for wealth consumed her. You can Google her full story. She maintained a bank balance of $31 million and died with an estate worth $100 million. She lived on cold oatmeal and in a home where she refused to heat. The living condition was so bad it caused her son’s leg to be amputated because she refused to heat the house. She died after having a convulsion while arguing over the virtues of skim milk.

As we, those of us pursuing our fortunes on the internet and off-line, work hard to build our businesses and enterprises, we must be mindful that obtaining great wealth does not always equate to obtaining great happiness. In most cases, it is just the opposite.

So of the things that bring you great happiness, do not cost anything or very little. Just think about it. Take a moment and jot down moments that bring a smile to your face remembering the time when…

We have become a nation addicted to extremes. The bigger, louder and edgy something is, it captures our attention. That is why videos, pictures, and memes with animals and children bring the softer side out of us. I set up a page, “Let Your Light Shine” because I wanted to be able to go to a page and scroll through at times when I needed a smile, laugh or even cry.

The 5th habit goes deep into how well our spiritual foundation is structured. How do we respond to life’s gotcha’s or lacks?

 “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat,
Or what ye shall drink…Behold the fowls of the air;
For they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns;
Yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.
Matthew 6:25-26

I recall that scripture from time to time as I go through challenges periodically in my life. I take a walk and take in the world around me.

What do you do to self-heal and rid yourself of anger, disappointments, and regret? Consider this short list:

  • Visit Friends
  • Visit Family
  • Walk in the Park
  • Bike in the Park
  • Run in the Park
  • Sit in the Park
  • Fish by the water’s edge
  • Work in your garden
  • Admire a garden
  • Conversation with a Stranger
  • Conversation with an Old Friend
  • Snuggle with a loved one
  • Snuggle with your pet

The list goes on and on, and these items do not cost anything to do. What are you willing to do to ensure you ‘Value Life’s Little Blessings’?

You have been given Five (5) senses, use them to bring you closer to enjoying God’s gifts to you.

  • Go to the Library and take out an audio book – Listen to the words and allow your mind to travel to another time and place.
  • Go to the Library and take out a book – See the words and allow your mind to travel to another time and place.
  • Find a local eatery or prepare something at home – Eat and taste the food that brings you enjoyment. Note: I just recently began eating cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. I loved them as a child. We did not have bagels in our home in the 50’s. 
  • Smell freshly cut grass; flowers; food being prepared by your neighbors; the scent of a loved one-spouse, babies, etc.
  • Touch someone you care deeply for and allow them to touch you. Hug a child. Hug your pet. What do you enjoy touching? I love soft clothes and blankets; rose petals and my cat’s fur. I love snuggling up next to my husband.

Reach out and accept these blessings. Each and every day take the time to enjoy the little blessings in your life.

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 6: Accentuate the Positive
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Habit #4: Don’t Punish Yourself

Habit of the Mind - Archibald D. Hart

Habit #4
Don’t Punish Yourself

Have you considered the fact, God has forgiven us for every sin, mistake, and failure we ever made or will ever make?

Self-punishment can be a result of your conscience going bad. Remember the difference between true guilt and false guilt (Habit #3 – Keep Your Conscience Clear)?

Ways of Self-Punishment

  • Turning our anger inward
  • Robbing ourselves of pleasure
  • Acting out Self-defeating Behaviors
  • Failing to accomplish personal objectives

Solution: Form a counter habit.

  • Too Critical?

-Change to Complimentary Mode.

  • Feeling Bad about Yourself?

-Volunteer in your community.

-Give sacrificially to a good cause in either time or money

-Help someone in real need


Looking in the mirror of self-reflection is not always beneficial. Like the distorted mirrors at the carnival, you may look fat when you are actually thin.

“God intended self-reflection to be the means of honest information about ourselves for growth and healing.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

This prayer leads us directly to the heart of God. It addresses exactly what God intended self-reflection to be; motivating us to know ourselves deeply and therefore to reach out for God, not to find a reason to self-punish.

Healthy self-reflection opens your mind to full discovery and spiritual wholeness.

“If we fail to become whole in mind and spirit, it is not because the Gospel is insufficient for our needs. It is because our grasps of the Gospel is so deficient.” Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 5: Value Life’s Little Blessings
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Habit #3: Keep Your Conscience Clear

Habit of the Mind - Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Habit #3
Keep Your Conscience Clear

“Conscience can take us by the hand and lead us to God.”

“Conscience is rarely consistent or rational.”

“No one in his right mind should want to live without a conscience. In fact, there is a name for them and they are called ‘sociopaths’.”

True Guilt vs False Guilt

“True guilt seeks to put things right.” For example, true guilt manifests itself if you hurt someone, violated their rights, and you need to take responsibility for your actions. This is true guilt. False guilt is what we feel when no actual violation has occurred, but it is imagined or when we exaggerate a petty mistake we’ve made, or when we refuse to forgive ourselves even though we have been forgiven.

When Guilt Distorts

Even as I write this, I am questioning how this habit will be received by my non-Christians readers. I am questioning my right to give a report on this topic using Bible quotes and Christian ethics. Nevertheless, in 1 Peter 3:16 I am reminded to “keep a clear conscience so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” My conviction in my belief and faith in Christ is closely connected to my conscience.

This verse in 1 Timothy foretold what we are experiencing today.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teaching come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with hot iron.”

There is clearly a connection between God’s conviction and our conscience. Hebrews 10:22…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

Distorted False Guilt

We always hear the saying, “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide.” According to Dr. Hart, that may not be necessarily a good thing to do. A false guilty conscience can lead to distress, depression, and even suicide. We may feel guilt when someone snubs us, leaving us wondering what ‘we’ did wrong. We get these guilty nagging negative thoughts when we do not call our parents or we do not give our children things they want and do not necessarily need.

To have clear conscience, we must learn to recognize healthy, true guilt and apply the right remedy. Sometimes the remedy calls for a simple apology or a confession that you did something wrong even if no one witnessed it.

How to Tell True from False Guilt

The feeling of guilt must be linked to a real, and not imagined, violation.

“Only real guilt can be forgiven.”

I bumped into a cabinet at a friend’s home and knocked over a curio. It fell to the floor and broke. I felt awful. I apologized and offered to replace it. I was forgiven for my carelessness.

The feeling of guilt must be appropriately proportioned to the violation.

“The seriousness of the guilt must always match the seriousness of the violation.”

If I carelessly bump into a cabinet at a friend’s home and a favorite curio or statuette falls and breaks. I feel sorrow and guilt about my carelessness. I apologize and I offer to replace it. The individual accepts my apology. If I continue to feel guilty and I continue to lose sleep over my carelessness, then I am operating under false guilt.

A young woman as a child was molested repeatedly by a family member. When she becomes of age or at a place in her life where she is able to tell someone, the response she receives is, “Why didn’t you tell me? Or Somebody?” This type of response causes false guilt. The young woman now blames herself for the molestation instead of the abuser.

The self-inflicted punishment does not match the crime.

Healing False Guilt

“When we are forgiven by God or someone else, we should be released from guilt feelings.”

Nevertheless, even when we are forgiven it is a challenge to get rid of the negative voices we hear in our mind. As a counselor, I pass on a practice that helps trick the mind to forget or get rid of the negative thought. As soon I recognize a negative thought entering my mind, I place my forefinger and middle on my forehead between my eyes, tap and say, “Cancel, Cancel.”

It works for me, and I have been given feedback by my clients, it worked for them.

Habit # 3-Having A Clear Conscience is a hard habit to truly understand and get a handle on. Yet, it is very clear to me, that having a healthy mind requires having a clear conscience. If not clear at all times, we need to understand and learn tools and methods to help adjust our thoughts and feelings about ourselves.

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 4: Don’t Punish Yourself
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Habit 2: Give Yourself Permission to Fail

Habit of the Mind - Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Habit #2
Give Yourself Permission to Fail

My Personal Failure

“There is no failure in God’s Kingdom, only forced growth.”

Your permission to fail does not mean you do not care about succeeding. It just means you accept your failure as a learning experience. Examine it and move on.

“Success is nothing more than failure with the garbage brushed off.”

There are times when you come to the realization you are not going to succeed in the deal, project or relationship. It’s called the “moment of breaking” according to M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Travelled”. The key to this realization is how do you respond or react? How do you recover from this “moment when all dependence on your own self-sufficiency is shattered. You stare at the stark reality that you can’t win all the time. Sometimes you simply lose.”

You must forgive yourself and move on.

Have I failed? Yes, many times. Do I consider myself a failure? No. I consider myself tenacious and a fighter. Regardless of the disappointments and rejections in my life, both personal and business, I just keep moving ahead. Do I ever get bogged down in grief and depression? Yes, I do, but my pity parties no longer devastate me. I allow myself to feel the loss and I adjust.

Everyone Feels Failure’s Arrows

“Sometimes God speaks loudest through our apparent failures.”

“Many successful people have built that success on mountains of a failure.”

“The way to accelerate your success is to double your failure rate.”

“We do not seek to fail, it just happens. When we fail, it just gives us a second chance to fail again (or not).”

Why does Failure Devastate Us?

In our country, we have cultivated the idol, “Success”.

“God is not in the success business but in the refining business.”

Otherwise, we would succeed in everything that we attempt. If you look closely at the successful men and women, every step they took to reach their level of success came with a failure or misstep. Each time we go through a new experience, it is for the purpose to grow and mature. Success is the fruit of these experiences.

Job 23:10 “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

“God uses failure to refine us.”

God’s Purification Process

  1. Failure devastates us because it points out our imperfections.

I must confess, my biggest failures have come from failed relationships. Most of my life from the time of my childhood, I desperately desired to not only be loved but cherished. When I didn’t receive my measure of love, I ended my relationships. Since I’ve grown in my knowledge of what Godly love is, I understand no one can love and cherish me as much as God. He gave his only son so I might live eternally.

I now relate to people without setting the standards and expectations in our relationships too high. I have learned to have compassion and patience.

  1. Failure devastates us because we irrationally confuse FAILING with being a FAILURE.

“You are not a failure because you failed. You are a failure when you give up or give in.”

When Is Failure Not a Failure?

Last year when Pope Francis visited the United States, he spoke in New York. He made a statement which went viral, “Jesus’ Life Ended in Failure” was the headlines. I did a, “WHAT?” Upon researching further, my emotions were soothed. I understood where he was coming from.

As I began reading this section in Dr. Hart’s book, I smiled. Again the question of whether Jesus’ life end in failure on the cross.

“God,” Oswald Chamber is quoted, “called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster.” From a human standpoint, the life of Jesus was an absolute failure. But from God’s viewpoint, it was a tremendous triumph because it fulfilled his perfect plan for the world.” Success or failure is a matter of perspective.

My perspective: Just look at the fruit of His life; past and present. I’m looking even into the future.

Was My Failure a Failure?

As I reflect on my relationships, throughout my life with friends, family, dating and marriage, I now understand the internal obsession with needing to be loved and cherished has been redirected and redefined. The emotional satisfaction I receive from my clients fulfills those areas of need. My husband and family no longer have that responsibility “to complete me”. I recognize that only God has that ability and he is sending me people and projects which reflect how he has fulfilled their needs.

So my relationship failures have only shown me how not to interact within my relationships with others, and most importantly myself. My inner peace and joy are not only reflected in my smile, it also shows in my eyes and emanates from my heart. It is also reflected in the choices I make each and every day.

Have I failed at relationships? Yes, I have. Am I a failure? No, I am not.

“Failure is a disguise of God’s best plan for my life.”

Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 3: Keep Your Conscience Clear
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Habit 1: Seeing the Good in Others

Habits of the Mind - Dr. Archibald D. Hart

How the Ten Habits Fit Together

Here is the list of the Ten Habits which help us be the best that we can be, and live the life we desire to live and achieve God’s purpose in our life.

  1. See the good in others
  2. Give yourself permission to fail
  3. Keep your conscience clear
  4. Don’t punish yourself
  5. Value life’s little blessings
  6. Accentuate the positive
  7. Be the right sort of optimist
  8. Accept yourself for who you are
  9. Stay with reality
  10. Cherish God’s love and wisdom

Habit #1

See the Good in Others

 “In order to see the good in others, you must see the good in yourself.”

“Seeing the good in others has nothing to do with liking, but everything to do with loving.”

Matthew 5:44 says, “love your enemies.”

“We are required by God to accept people for what they are: the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

God has given us the capacity to love people who we may not necessarily like. It is a process, and will not be immediate.

Not Everyone Likes Me Either
and Not Everyone is My Friend

I remind myself that even though it seems on the outside, I have a lot of friends, I don’t. It’s true a lot of people like me, and there are also a lot of people who do not.

I thank God I have progressed and matured where being liked by everyone is no longer my priority. Being nice to everyone is until they give a reason to be cautious in how I deal with them.

This is especially true for clients and customers. As an entrepreneur, you come in contact with many different personalities. Because you are in business to earn an income, you have to adjust your interactions with them according to their needs for your products and services. When the project or sale ends, your client may become a closer acquaintance, even a friend. For me, I love building relationships with my clients. But not all clients feel the same as I do.

Some have decided to go their own way, and I had to learn to let them go. I use to suffer every time my relationship ended with my clients, because of the amount of time and effort I commit to a project. I feel the loss of the kinship/relationship built between us. I now understand, people are in my life to have their needs met, once those needs are met, they no longer need me. So you must learn to let them go when it’s time to part ways.

The Divine Formula

God did not ask us to change before He could love us.

If people are to change, it is most likely because we loved them first.

They may be totally unlikable, and the love we show them may be tough love, but nevertheless we show them, love.

Negative people will change a lot sooner if we do not make it a condition of our love. Hurt people especially need our love; God’s agape love.

 Four Key Steps

To Seeing the Good In Others


  1. Acknowledge your own un-loveliness.


  1. Set aside emotional reactions.


  1. Remember that every person is loved by God.


  1. Recognize your own need to be seen as a good person.

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 2: Give Yourself Permission to Fail
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Rules for Building Strong Habits

Advice from One Smart Lady

As I continue to grow professionally and personally, I marvel at the fact I have all I need to know right at my fingertips. Over the years, I have attended many seminars, workshops both online and in classrooms. I even called myself, “The Seminar Junkie”. Recently, I have been concentrating on my mind and how it works. I have been blessed with many skills, talents, and gifts. I say ‘blessed’, but it is also a curse. Because of my varied interests, I tend to be all over the place.

I have been given the heart of service and teaching and I tend to answer, “Yes” when asked, “Can you help me with…” You fill in the blank.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was unpacking my books, I came across “Habits of the Mind” by Dr. Archibald D. Hart. He may or may not be a familiar name. I was introduced to Dr. Hart through my Biblical Counseling training. His book was recommended by my Counseling Teacher and at that time it was out of print and unavailable. I was not daunted, as a publisher, I knew that authors always had their own stash so I wrote tracked him down and asked if he had a copy available for sale. He was pleasantly surprised that I went to such great lengths to get a copy of his book. I sent him a check and he sent me an autographed copy, “To Deborah, With God’s Blessings. Archibald D. Hart”. I will treasure this book forever.

One of the skills we are taught is how to take our counseled clients through the process of swapping out bad habits and replacing them with good habits. The process was called “put off – put on”.

It would go like this:

Put Off – Lying                                     Put On – Truth
Put Off – Negative Talk                      Put On – Positive Self-Talk
Put Off – Procrastination                   Put On – Taking Action

In the “Habits of the Mind”, Dr. Hart takes the reader through ten exercises to renewing your thinking. Along with these exercises are six (6) rules.

Rule for Building Strong Habits

  1. Have A Plan
  2. Define the Habit You Desire
  3. Challenge Whatever Sabotages Your New Habit
  4. Set Up A System of Reminders
  5. Reinforce Your New Habit
  6. Challenge Your Plan if isn’t Working.

Have A Plan

Be intentional about what you plan to do. No good habits can be formed without a plan. Imagine a building contractor who is hired to build a skyscraper. He or she would not take blueprints which lacked a strong foundation.

I want to be Financially Wealthy and Debt-Free.

Define the Habit You Desire

Be specific in defining your desired outcome. If it is setting a dollar amount that you want to earn each month, write it down and also list every skill, product or idea you have to bring in a specific dollar amount. It is learning a skill. Write down the source of training, the length of time it will take for you to achieve this training and a target deadline.

I want to earn a Six-Figure Income a month. Write down the steps to achieve this. Place it at the top of the tier and work your way up from the bottom. Build a strong foundation. What will it take?

  1. Six-Figure Income a month
  2. $75,000 Income a month
  3. $50,000 Income a month
  4. $25,000 Income a month
  5. $15,000 Income a month
  6. $10,000 Income a month
  7. $5,000 Income a month
  8. $1,000 Income a month

Challenge Whatever Sabotages Your New Habit

Be a good steward of your income. Challenge yourself to Tithe 10% (or more), Save (10%), (60%) Pay Your Bills/Discretionary Spending  and reinvest 20% in your business. Note: Paying your bills will decrease as your bills are paid off. The challenge is to still hold down discretionary spending.

Set up a System of Reminders

Set up a daily routine of monitoring your activities:

  • Morning Devotion to align yourself with right thinking
  • Reflection of the previous day’s activities
  • Setting out the plans for the day
  • Act on your plans

Reinforce Your New Habit

Set up an accountability partner and receive confirmation you are on target. Reinforce yourself knowing that God is pleased with your progress. Remember it is a journey and a process we all are going through.

Change Your Plan if it isn’t Working

Examine the areas of your plans that are not working and don’t hesitate to change or get rid of them.

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together
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