How To Stop Worrying And Start Living - səhifə 7
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According to the book of Genesis, the Creator gave man dominion over the whole wide earth. A mighty big present. But I am not interested in any such super-royal prerogatives. All I desire is dominion over myself-dominion over my thoughts; dominion over my fears; dominion over my mind and over my spirit. And the wonderful thing is that I know that I can attain this dominion to an astonishing degree, any time I want to, by merely controlling my actions-which in turn control my reactions.
So let us remember these words of William James: "Much of what we call Evil ... can often be converted into a bracing and tonic good by a simple change of the sufferer's inner attitude from one of fear to one of fight."
Let's fight for our happiness!
Let's fight for our happiness by following a daily programme of cheerful and constructive thinking. Here is such a programme. It is entitled "Just for Today". I found this programme so inspiring that I gave away hundreds of copies. It was written thirty-six years ago by the late Sibyl F. Partridge. If you and I follow it, we will eliminate most of our worries and increase immeasurably our portion of what the French call la joie de vivre.
Just For Today
1. Just for today I will be happy. This assumes that what Abraham Lincoln said is true, that "most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Happiness is from within; it is not a matter of externals.
2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
4. Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don't want to do, as William James suggests, just for exercise.
6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticise not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
7. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
8. Just for today I will have a programme. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurry and indecision.
9. Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life.
10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.
If we want to develop a mental attitude that will bring us peace and happiness, here is Rule 1:
Think and act cheerfully, and you will feel cheerful.
Chapter 13 - The High Cost Of Getting Even
One night, years ago, as I was travelling through Yellowstone Park, I sat with other tourists on bleachers facing a dense growth of pine and spruce. Presently the animal which we had been waiting to see, the terror of the forests, the grizzly bear, strode out into the glare of the lights and began devouring the garbage that had been dumped there from the kitchen of one of the park hotels. A forest ranger, Major Martindale, sat on a horse and talked to the excited tourists about bears. He told us that the grizzly bear can whip any other animal in the Western world, with the possible exception of the buffalo and the Kadiak bear; yet I noticed that night that there was one animal, and only one, that the grizzly permitted to come out of the forest and eat with him under the glare of the lights: a skunk. The grizzly knew that he could liquidate a skunk with one swipe of his mighty paw. Why didn't he do it? Because he had found from experience that it didn't pay.
I found that out, too. As a farm boy, I trapped four-legged skunks along the hedgerows in Missouri; and, as a man, I encountered a few two-legged skunks on the sidewalks of New York. I have found from sad experience that it doesn't pay to stir up either variety.
When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness. Our enemies would dance with joy if only they knew how they were worrying us, lacerating us and getting even with us! Our hate is not hurting them, but our hate is turning our own days and nights into a hellish turmoil.
Who do you suppose said this: "If selfish people try to take advantage of you, cross them off your list, but don't try to get even. When you try to get even, you hurt yourself more than you hurt the other fellow"? ... Those words sound as if they might have been uttered by some starry-eyed idealist. But they weren't. Those words appeared in a bulletin issued by the Police Department of Milwaukee.
How will trying to get even hurt you? In many ways. According to Life magazine, it may even wreck your health. "The chief personality characteristic of persons with hypertension [high blood pressure] is resentment," said Life. "When resentment is chronic, chronic hypertension and heart trouble follow."
So you see that when Jesus said: "Love your enemies", He was not only preaching sound ethics. He was also preaching twentieth-century medicine. When He said: "Forgive seventy time seven", Jesus was telling you and me how to keep from having high blood pressure, heart trouble, stomach ulcers, and many other ailments.
A friend of mine recently had a serious heart attack. Her physician put her to bed and ordered her to refuse to get angry about anything, no matter what happened. Physicians know that if you have a weak heart, a fit of anger can kill you. Did I say can kill you? A fit of anger did kill a restaurant owner in Spokane, Washington, a few years ago. I have in front of me now a letter from Jerry Swartout, chief of the Police Department, Spokane, Washington, saying: "A few years ago, William Falkaber, a man of sixty-eight who owned a caf6 here in Spokane, killed himself by flying into a rage because his cook insisted on drinking coffee out of his saucer. The cafe owner was so indignant that he grabbed a revolver and started to chase the cook and fell dead from heart failure-with his hand still gripping the gun. The coroner's report declared that anger had caused the heart failure."
When Jesus said: "Love your enemies", He was also telling us how to improve our looks. I know women-and so do you-whose faces have been wrinkled and hardened by hate and disfigured by resentment. All the beauty treatments in Christendom won't improve their looks half so much as would a heart full of forgiveness, tenderness, and love.
Hatred destroys our ability to enjoy even our food. The Bible puts it this way "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."
Wouldn't our enemies rub their hands with glee if they knew that our hate for them was exhausting us, making us tired and nervous, ruining our looks, giving us heart trouble, and probably shortening our lives?
Even if we can't love our enemies, let's at least love ourselves. Let's love ourselves so much that we won't permit our enemies to control our happiness, our health and our looks. As Shakespeare put it:
Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself.
When Jesus said that we should forgive our enemies "seventy times seven", He was also preaching sound business. For example, I have before me as I write a letter I received from George Rona, Fradegata'n 24, Uppsala, Sweden. For years, George Rona was an attorney in Vienna; but during the Second World War, he fled to Sweden. He had no money, needed work badly. Since he could speak and write several languages, he hoped to get a position as correspondent for some firm engaged in importing or exporting. Most of the firms replied that they had no need of such services because of the war, but they would keep his name on file ... and so on. One man, however, wrote George Rona a letter saying: "What you imagine about my business is not true. You are both wrong and foolish. I do not need any correspondent. Even if I did need one, I wouldn't hire you because you can't even write good Swedish. Your letter is full of mistakes."
When George Rona read that letter, he was as mad as Donald Duck. What did this Swede mean by telling him he couldn't write the language! Why, the letter that this Swede himself had written was full of mistakes! So George Rona wrote a letter that was calculated to burn this man up. Then he paused. He said to himself: "Wait a minute, now. How do I know this man isn't right? I have studied Swedish, but it's not my native language, so maybe I do make mistakes I don't know anything about. If I do, then I certainly have to study harder if I ever hope to get a job. This man has possibly done me a favour, even though he didn't mean to. The mere fact that he expressed himself in disagreeable terms doesn't alter my debt to him. Therefore, I am going to write him and thank him for what he has done."
So George Rona tore up the scorching letter he had already written, and wrote another that said: "It was kind of you to go to the trouble of writing to me, especially when you do not need a correspondent. I am sorry I was mistaken about your firm. The reason that I wrote you was that I made inquiry and your name was given me as a leader in your field. I did not know I had made grammatical errors in my letter. I am sorry and ashamed of myself. I will now apply myself more diligently to the study of the Swedish language and try to correct my mistakes. I want to thank you for helping me get started on the road to self-improvement."
Within a few days, George Rona got a letter from this man, asking Rona to come to see him. Rona went-and got a job. George Rona discovered for himself that "a soft answer turneth away wrath".
We may not be saintly enough to love our enemies, but, for the sake of our own health and happiness, let's at least forgive them and forget them. That is the smart thing to do. "To be wronged or robbed," said Confucius, "is nothing unless you continue to remember it." I once asked General Eisenhower's son, John, if his father ever nourished resentments. "No," he replied, "Dad never wastes a minute thinking about people he doesn't like."
There is an old saying that a man is a fool who can't be angry, but a man is wise who won't be angry.
That was the policy of William J. Gaynor, former Mayor of New York. Bitterly denounced by the yellow press, he was shot by a maniac and almost killed. As he lay in the hospital, fighting for his life, he said: "Every night, I forgive everything and everybody." Is that too idealistic? Too much sweetness and light? If so, let's turn for counsel to the great German philosopher, Schopenhauer, author of Studies in Pessimism.
He regarded life as a futile and painful adventure. Gloom dripped from him as he walked; yet out of the depths of his despair, Schopenhauer cried: "If possible, no animosity should be felt for anyone."
I once asked Bernard Baruch-the man who was the trusted adviser to six Presidents: Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, and Truman-whether he was ever disturbed by the attacks of his enemies. "No man can humiliate me or disturb me," he replied. "I won't let him."
No one can humiliate or disturb you and me, either-unless we let him.
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can never hurt me.
"Throughout the ages mankind has burned its candles before those Christlike individuals who bore no malice against their enemies. I have often stood in the Jasper National Park, in Canada, and gazed upon one of the most beautiful mountains in the Western world-a mountain named in honour of Edith Cavell, the British nurse who went to her death like a saint before a German firing squad on October 12, 1915. Her crime? She had hidden and fed and nursed wounded French and English soldiers in her Belgian home, and had helped them escape into Holland. As the English chaplain entered her cell in the military prison in Brussels that October morning, to prepare her for death, Edith Cavell uttered two sentences that have been preserved in bronze and granite: "I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone." Four years later, her body was removed to England and memorial services were held in Westminster Abbey. Today, a granite statue stands opposite the National Portrait Gallery in London-a statue of one of England's immortals. "I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone."
One sure way to forgive and forget our enemies is to become absorbed in some cause infinitely bigger than ourselves. Then the insults and the enmities we encounter won't matter because we will be oblivious of everything but our cause. As an example, let's take an intensely dramatic event that was about to take place in the pine woods of Mississippi back in 1918. A lynching! Laurence Jones, a coloured teacher and preacher, was about to be lynched. A few years ago, I visited the school that Laurence Jones founded-the Piney Woods Country School-and I spoke before the student body. That school is nationally known today, but the incident I am going to relate occurred long before that. It occurred back in the highly emotional days of the First World War. A rumour had spread through central Mississippi that the Germans were arousing the Negroes and inciting them to rebellion. Laurence Jones, the man who was about to be lynched, was, as I have already said, a Negro himself and was accused of helping to arouse his race to insurrection. A group of white men-pausing outside the church-had heard Laurence Jones shouting to his congregation: "Life is a battle in which every Negro must gird on his armour and fight to survive and succeed."
"Fight!" "Armour!" Enough! Galloping off into the night, these excited young men recruited a mob, returned to the church, put a rope round the preacher, dragged him for a mile up the road, stood him on a heap of faggots, lighted matches, and were ready to hang him and burn him at the same time, when someone shouted: "Let's make the blankety-blank-blank talk before he burns. Speech! Speech!" Laurence Jones, standing on the faggots, spoke with a rope around his neck, spoke for his life and his cause. He had been graduated from the University of Iowa in 1907. His sterling character, his scholarship and his musical ability had made him popular with both the students and the faculty. Upon graduation, he had turned down the offer of a hotel man to set him up in business, and had turned down the offer of a wealthy man to finance his musical education. Why? Because he was on fire with a vision. Reading the story of Booker T. Washington's life, he had been inspired to devote his own life to educating the poverty-stricken, illiterate members of his race. So he went to the most backward belt he could find in the South-a spot twenty-five miles south of Jackson, Mississippi. Pawning his watch for $1.65, he started his school in the open woods with a stump for a desk. Laurence Jones told these angry men who were waiting to lynch him of the struggle he had had to educate these unschooled boys and girls and to train them to be good farmers, mechanics, cooks, housekeepers. He told of the white men who had helped him in his struggle to establish Piney Woods Country School-white men who had given him land, lumber, and pigs, cows and money, to help him carry on his educational work.
When Laurence Jones was asked afterward if he didn't hate the men who had dragged him up the road to hang him and burn him, he replied that he was too busy with his cause to hate-too absorbed in something bigger than himself. "I have no time to quarrel," he said, "no time for regrets, and no man can force me to stoop low enough to hate him."
As Laurence Jones talked with sincere and moving eloquence as he pleaded, not for himself but his cause, the mob began to soften. Finally, an old Confederate veteran in the crowd said: "I believe this boy is telling the truth. I know the white men whose names he has mentioned. He is doing a fine work. We have made a mistake. We ought to help him instead of hang him." The Confederate veteran passed his hat through the crowd and raised a gift of fifty-two dollars and forty cents from the very men who had gathered there to hang the founder of Piney Woods Country School-the man who said: "I have no time to quarrel, no time for regrets, and no man can force me to stoop low enough to hate him."
Epictetus pointed out nineteen centuries ago that we reap what we sow and that somehow fate almost always makes us pay for our malefactions. "In the long run," said Epictetus, "every man will pay the penalty for his own misdeeds. The man who remembers this will be angry with no one, indignant with no one, revile no one, blame no one, offend no one, hate no one."
Probably no other man in American history was ever more denounced and hated and double-crossed than Lincoln. Yet Lincoln, according to Herndon's classic biography, "never judged men by his like or dislike for them. If any given act was to be performed, he could understand that his enemy could do it just as well as anyone. If a man had maligned him or been guilty of personal ill-treatment, and was the fittest man for the place, Lincoln would give him that place, just as soon as he would give it to a friend. ... I do not think he ever removed a man because he was his enemy or because he disliked him."
Lincoln was denounced and insulted by some of the very men he had appointed to positions of high power-men like McClellan, Seward, Stanton, and Chase. Yet Lincoln believed, according to Herndon, his law partner, that "No man was to be eulogised for what he did; or censured for what he did or did not do," because "all of us are the children of conditions, of circumstances, of environment, of education, of acquired habits and of heredity moulding men as they are and will for ever be."
Perhaps Lincoln was right. If you and I had inherited the same physical, mental, and emotional characteristics that our enemies have inherited, and if life had done to us what it has done to them, we would act exactly as they do. We couldn't possibly do anything else. As Clarence Darrow used to say: "To know all is to understand all, and this leaves no room for judgment and condemnation." So instead of hating our enemies, let's pity them and thank God that life has not made us what they are. Instead of heaping condemnation and revenge upon our enemies, let's give them our understanding, our sympathy, our help, our forgiveness, and our prayers."
I was brought up in a family which read the Scriptures or repeated a verse from the Bible each night and then knelt down and said "family prayers". I can still hear my father, in a lonely Missouri farmhouse, repeating those words of Jesus- words that will continue to be repeated as long as man cherishes his ideals: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
My father tried to live those words of Jesus; and they gave him an inner peace that the captains and the kings of earth have often sought for in vain.
To cultivate a mental attitude that will bring you peace and happiness, remember that Rule 2 is:
Let's never try to get even with our enemies, because if we do we will hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them. Let's do as General Eisenhower does: let's never waste a minute thinking about people we don't like.
Chapter 14 - If You Do This, You Will Never Worry About Ingratitude
I recently met a business man in Texas who was burned up with indignation. I was warned that he would tell me about it within fifteen minutes after I met him. He did. The incident he was angry about had occurred eleven months previously, but he was still burned up about it. He couldn't speak of anything else. He had given his thirty-four employees ten thousand dollars in Christmas bonuses-approximately three hundred dollars each-and no one had thanked him. "I am sorry," he complained bitterly, "that I ever gave them a penny!"
"An angry man," said Confucius, "is always full of poison." This man was so full of poison that I honestly pitied him. He was about sixty years old. Now, life-insurance companies figure that, on the average, we will live slightly more than two-thirds of the difference between our present age and eighty. So this man-if he was lucky-probably had about fourteen or fifteen years to live. Yet he had already wasted almost one of his few remaining years by his bitterness and resentment over an event that was past and gone. I pitied him.
Instead of wallowing in resentment and self-pity, he might have asked himself why he didn't get any appreciation. Maybe he had underpaid and overworked his employees. Maybe they considered a Christmas bonus not a gift, but something they had earned. Maybe he was so critical and unapproachable that no one dared or cared to thank him. Maybe they felt he gave the bonus because most of the profits were going for taxes, anyway.
On the other hand, maybe the employees were selfish, mean, and ill-mannered. Maybe this. Maybe that. I don't know any more about it than you do. But I do know what Dr. Samuel Johnson said: "Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation. You do not find it among gross people."
Here is the point I am trying to make: this man made the human and distressing mistake of expecting gratitude. He just didn't know human nature.
If you saved a man's life, would you expect him to be grateful? You might-but Samuel Leibowitz, who was a famous criminal lawyer before he became a judge, saved seventy-eight men from going to the electric chair! How many of these men, do you suppose, stopped to thank Samuel Leibowitz, or ever took the trouble to send him a Christmas card? How many? Guess. ... That's right-none.
Christ healed ten lepers in one afternoon-but how many of those lepers even stopped to thank Him? Only one. Look it up in Saint Luke. When Christ turned around to His disciples and asked: "Where are the other nine?" they had all run away. Disappeared without thanks! Let me ask you a question: Why should you and I-or this business man in Texas-expect more thanks for our small favours than was given Jesus Christ?
And when it comes to money matters! Well, that is even more hopeless. Charles Schwab told me that he had once saved a bank cashier who had speculated in the stock market with funds belonging to the bank. Schwab put up the money to save this man from going to the penitentiary. Was the cashier grateful? Oh, yes, for a little while. Then he turned against Schwab and reviled him and denounced him-the very man who had kept him out of jail!
If you gave one of your relatives a million dollars, would you expect him to be grateful? Andrew Carnegie did just that. But if Andrew Carnegie had come back from the grave a little while later, he would have been shocked to find this relative cursing him! Why? Because Old Andy had left 365 million dollars to public charities-and had "cut him off with one measly million," as he put it.
That's how it goes. Human nature has always been human nature-and it probably won't change in your lifetime. So why not accept it? Why not be as realistic about it as was old Marcus Aurelius, one of the wisest men who ever ruled the Roman Empire. He wrote in his diary one day: "I am going to meet people today who talk too much-people who are selfish, egotistical, ungrateful. But I won't be surprised or disturbed, for I couldn't imagine a world without such people." That makes sense, doesn't it? If you and I go around grumbling about ingratitude, who is to blame? Is it human nature-or is it our ignorance of human nature? Let's not expect gratitude. Then, if we get some occasionally, it will come as a delightful surprise. If we don't get it, we won't be disturbed.
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