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Over the past several months I have been blessed to receive hundreds of letters and phone calls from you readers and ever so often I get one that brings tears to my eyes. Sometimes I fail to realize that there are many, many people out there in my readership who are hurting and quite often words can bring sunshine, healing and comfort to an otherwise cloudy and dreary day.

Here is an example of what I'm saying. A lady writes, "I want to take a moment to thank you for columns like the latest one on having a winning personality. Sometimes, such writings are all that keep me from hitting the pit of negativity for good. You see, my mother was paranoid. All of my life, I've fought the (inherited?) tendency to follow in her footsteps. Now in my later years, I find myself becoming more and more like her and I don't care for what I see. I keep plowing along and talk to myself a lot. I say, "There you go again" and think of happier things. So, thank you for inspirations."

While I don't know about you, this note has brought something home to me that is very real. This lady wonders out loud if she has inherited the tendency to be paranoid from her mother. It's a legitimate question and I don't know the answer. However, I do know that millions of children in this country grow up and are constantly fed a diet of negative information. They never, I repeat never, hear praise and encouragement from those who mean the most to them. As a result they never develop self-confidence and the belief in themselves that they can achieve anything really worthwhile.

If what I am saying applies to you or someone you love, I would like to share a simple thought with you that has the power to transform a human life into something that is really beautiful. The thought is simply this, "YOU CAN BE THE BEST." Please understand in the context that I am using this term I am not talking about setting state, national or world records in athletics, sales or some other field of endeavor. What I am talking about is using our time, talents, energy and other resources to become the very best person we can be.

Here is the end result of this kind of thinking and action. When we put forth the effort and focus on reaching high goals, the awards and achievements and other recognition we receive along the path of life will be much more meaningful. To my way of thinking, striving to be the very best person we can be is one of the most important aspects of a person's life. This is really an attitude and a philosophy to live by. To say it another way, being the best is not the most important thing, but STRIVING to be the best is the most important thing.

On the other hand, to live a negative, guilt ridden life that is beset with constant problems is not living the kind of life that God intended. What does it profit a man or woman to become president of a fortune 500 company, win a gold medal in the Olympics, become a movie star or professional athlete only to suffer disgrace or a tragic death later in life because of poor character, alcoholism, drug addiction or some other personal tragedy. You will find that low self-esteem is the root problem for most people who are presently failing in life.

But moving on to the good news!! To be or become the very best person we can be, we must be totally honest, truthful and have self-respect. From this solid foundation we can then work to develop other values such as kindness, consideration, courtesy and a genuine love and concern for others. You talk about being a real winner in the game of life, this is it. Just keep saying to yourself or telling those you love, "YOU CAN BE THE BEST" and really mean it. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72032.)

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