The Secret of Obtaining Wealth: Service to Others
A friend recently read the posting “1899: A Message to Garcia” and afterward suggested I return to the writings of Elbert Hubbard for his treatment on the importance of mental attitude in performance and personal transformation. An imperfect man himself, Hubbard wrote extensively on issues of self-determination and pursuit of excellence. Hubbard believed that fear was eradicated by the employment of one’s intelligence in the relentless pursuit of truth. By doing so, he reasoned one would obtain greater strength and personal satisfaction ultimately yielding true wealth through service to others. A humbling ideal and remarkable legacy for others pursuing transformation to assume.
As a historical footnote, Hubbard died with his wife on the liner Lusitania after the ship was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on May 8, 1915. Hubbard, upon learning that the ship would sink and sufficient life boats did not exist for all women and children, returned with his wife to their cabin, locked the door and awaited the inevitable. The sinking of the Lusitania, more than any other event, galvanized American opinion toward entry into World War I and steered her people away from isolationist sentiment.
The Importance of Individualism
The better part of my readings these past three weeks included the writings of Elbert Hubbard. Mental Attitude proves one the more remarkable. The literature from this period (late 19th and early 20th centuries), beyond those of Hubbard, underscore that we – as Americans – apparently sought something within ourselves then as we do now; namely, the rugged individualism that made our country great. Although many then hearkened to the era of pioneers, our generation looks back fondly upon the “Greatest Generation”. Let it not be lost to you that that generation lead America through the Great Depression, World War II and put a man on the moon while developing the United States into the world’s premier hegemonic power. This began decades after Hubbard’s death.
Surely this spirit is not dead in all Americans, but rather dormant in so many. We need but to call upon that latent strength and willing to sacrifice the lies we tell ourselves to become truly great again. We float adrift amidst the flotsam of economic, spiritual and cultural casualties created by this latest tempest. Our leadership more aptly resembles ravening wolves than inspired shepherds. I argue now as Hubbard then that individualism remains key and mental attitude paramount in freeing us from the morass of self-centered delusion that we are not responsible for ourselves.
Character is the result of two things, mental attitude, and the way we spend our time.
It is what we think and what we do that make us what we are.
Hubbard’s words – written more than a century ago – resonate today.
Enjoy the following.
Be well. Stay well.
by Elbert Hubbard (1906)
Success is in the blood. There are men whom fate can never keep down–they march forward in a jaunty manner, and take by divine right the best of everything that the earth affords. But their success is not attained by means of … policy. They do not lie in wait, nor scheme, nor fawn, nor seek to adapt their sails to catch the breeze of popular favor. Still, they are ever alert and alive to any good that may come their way, and when it comes they simply appropriate it, and tarrying not, move steadily on.
Good health! Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost; drink in the sunshine; greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every hand-clasp.
Do not fear being misunderstood; and never waste a moment thinking about your enemies. Try to fix firmly in your own mind what you would like to do, and then without violence of direction you will move straight to the goal.
Fear is the rock on which we split, and hate the shoal on which many a barque is stranded. When we become fearful, the judgment is as unreliable as the compass of a ship whose hold is full of iron ore; when we hate, we have unshipped the rudder; and if ever we stop to meditate on what the gossips say, we have allowed a hawser to foul the screw.
Keep your mind on the great and splendid thing you would like to do; and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing the opportunities that are required for the fulfillment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the elements that it needs. Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought that you hold is hourly transforming you into that particular individual you so admire.
Thought is supreme, and to think is often better than to do.
Preserve a right mental attitude–the attitude of courage, frankness and good cheer.
Darwin and Spencer have told us that this is the method of Creation. Each animal has evolved the parts it needed and desired. The horse is fleet because he wishes to be; the bird flies because it desires to; the duck has a web foot because it wants to swim. All things come through desire and every sincere prayer is answered. We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.
Many people know this, but they do not know it thoroughly enough so that it shapes their lives. We want friends, so we scheme and chase ‘cross lots after strong people, and lie in wait for good folks–or alleged good folks–hoping to be able to attach ourselves to them. The only way to secure friends is to be one. And before you are fit for friendship you must be able to do without it. That is to say, you must have sufficient self-reliance to take care of yourself, and then out of the surplus of your energy you can do for others.
The individual who craves friendship, and yet desires a self-centered spirit more, will never lack for friends.
If you would have friends, cultivate solitude instead of society. Drink in the ozone; bathe in the sunshine; and out in the silent night, under the stars, say to yourself again and yet again, “I am a part of all my eyes behold!” And the feeling then will come to you that you are no mere interloper between earth and heaven; but you are a necessary part of the whole. No harm can come to you that does not come to all, and if you shall go down it can only be amid a wreck of worlds.
Like old Job, that which we fear will surely come upon us. By a wrong mental attitude we have set in motion a train of events that ends in disaster. People who die in middle life from disease, almost without exception, are those who have been preparing for death. The acute tragic condition is simply the result of a chronic state of mind–a culmination of a series of events.
Character is the result of two things, mental attitude, and the way we spend our time. It is what we think and what we do that make us what we are.
By laying hold on the forces of the universe, you are strong with them. And when you realize this, all else is easy, for in your arteries will course red corpuscles, and in your heart the determined resolution is born to do and to be. Carry your chin in and the crown of your head high. We are gods in the chrysalis.
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