Closing Breakfast: Michael Broome Urges Attendees to Find the Positive

By Buisch, Michele D. | Corrections Today, April 2003 | Go to article overview

Closing Breakfast: Michael Broome Urges Attendees to Find the Positive


Buisch, Michele D., Corrections Today


Michael Broome, motivational speaker and founder of Broyhilll Leadership Conferences, provided some inspirational words to live by during the Closing Breakfast, Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The key to maintaining good mental health, offered Broome, is learning how to manage stress and maximize relationships, both private and professional.

More than 150 years ago, philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Good mental health results in the ability to see good in bad situations," Broome noted. "Look for the best in the hand that we are dealt," he added. He went on to say that many people are in mental health facilities not because there is anything physically wrong with their brains, but because they have simply "lost control of their thoughts."

However, people cannot be blindly optimistic because life can be tough at times. "Life doesn't always turn out the way we want it to," said Broome. "It can be tough and difficult at times."

To illustrate his point, Broome described the devastation he and his wife felt when they were told several years ago that they could not have children. After receiving the bad news, they went on to adopt three children they love dearly. Although they initially thought it was a curse, they now consider their fertility problems a blessing. "More than anything else in life, our attitude is a result of what we value and the result of what we love," he said. "One thing we should all value, especially in difficult times, is a sense of humor."

Broome stressed the importance of a sense of humor and being able to laugh at oneself. He said that Adolf Hitler was funny, entertaining and the "life of the party," however, the humor was never directed at himself--he was incapable of laughing at himself. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, loved to poke fun at himself. According to Broome, during a political debate with Stephen Douglas, Douglas called Lincoln a "two-faced politician." In response Lincoln said, "If I had two faces, why would I wear this one?" Broome continued that the No. 1 thing that top Fortune 500 CEOs have in common is a sense of humor, which helps them deal with the frustrating situations they face on a daily basis.

Inside each person, Broome said, there is a red dog and a white dog. The red dog represents hate, anger, stress, jealousy and all other negative emotions and thoughts. The white dog represents love, laughter, hope, faith and all other positive emotions and thoughts. "When we think negative thoughts, we feed the red dog. When we think positive thoughts, we feed the white dog," he said. And these dogs, Broome said, fight all day long. The winner of this struggle is determined by which dog we feed and which dog we starve.

Today, Broome conceded, it is difficult to maintain a positive attitude toward the world, especially with all the negativity coming from television news. "But isn't it amazing with all the things supposedly harming us, people are living longer than they have ever lived before?" he asked. Many times, people say they would like to go back to the good ol' days because of all the negativism. "I don't know when the good ol' days were," he said. Eighty percent of the people who landed at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock were dead within two years after arriving; in 1776, the average American died by age 35, said Broome. He continued that people today say it is a dangerous world to be raising children in, however, 100 years ago, children died all the time from diseases that are not even thought about anymore. Then there was World War I in 1917, the Depression in the 1930s, World War II in the 1940s, the Korean War in the 1950s, the Vietnam War in the 1960s, etc. "My point is this: We've always had problems and we're always going to have problems. I think the problems we have today, even the terrorism threat, pale in comparison to those we've overcome in the past," he said.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Moving forward into the new millennium, Broome said there are going to be two types of people, just as there have always been: "those who get mired down in the pessimism of the age and choose to feed the red dog and those who look toward the future with hope and confidence and choose to feed the white dog. …

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