Harrison BarnesFuture Post RSS https://www.harrisonbarnes.com Mon, 15 Jul 2024 06:30:28 +0000 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Character-Building Thought Power https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=8276 https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=8276#comments Sun, 21 Jul 2024 06:30:40 +0000 Harrison Barnes https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=8276 In his book, Character-Building Thought Power, Ralph Waldo Trine draws a clear distinction between good and bad habits. In the process he raises questions as to whether we have control over habit forming and character building, or is it just a matter of chance? This book is extremely thought provoking and a “must-read.” Enjoy it.


Character-Building Thought Power

By Ralph Waldo Trine

The Book

UNCONSCIOUSLY we are forming habits every moment of our lives. Some are habits of a desirable nature; some are those of a most undesirable nature. Some, though not so bad in themselves, are exceedingly bad in their cumulative effects, and cause us at times much loss, much pain and anguish, while their opposites would, on the contrary, bring as much peace and joy, as well as a continually increasing power. Have we it within our power to determine at all times what types of habits shall take form in our lives? In other words, is habit-forming, character-building, a matter of mere chance, or have we it within our own control? We have, entirely and absolutely. “I will be what I will to be,” can be said and should be said by every human soul.

After this has been bravely and determinedly said, and not only said, but fully inwardly realized, something yet remains. Something remains to be said regarding the great law underlying habit-forming, character-building; for there is a simple, natural, and thoroughly scientific method that all should know. A method whereby old, undesirable, earth-binding habits can be broken, and new, desirable, heaven lifting habits can be acquired, a method whereby life in part or in its totality can be changed, provided one is sufficiently in earnest to know and, knowing it, to apply the law.

Thought is the force underlying all. And what do we mean by this? Simply this: Your every act – every conscious act – is preceded by a thought. Your dominating thoughts determine your dominating actions. In the realm of our own minds we have absolute control, or we should have, and if at any time we have not, then there is a method by which we can gain control, and in the realm of the mind become thorough masters. In order to get to the very foundation of the matter, let us look to this for a moment. For if thought is always parent to our acts, habits, character, life, then it is first necessary that we know fully how to control our thoughts.

Here let us refer to that law of the mind which is the same as is the law in Connection with the reflex nerve system of the body, the law which says that whenever one does a certain thing in a certain way it is easier to do the same thing in the same way the next time, and still easier the next, and the next, and the next, until in time it comes to pass that no effort is required, or no effort worth speaking of; but on the opposite would require the effort. The mind carries with it the power that perpetuates its own type of thought, the same as the body carries with it through the reflex nerve system the power which perpetuates and makes continually easier its own particular acts. Thus a simple effort to control one’s thoughts, a simple setting about it, even if at first failure is the result, and even if for a time failure seems to be about the only result, will in time, sooner or later, bring him to the point of easy, full, and complete control. Each one, then, can grow the power of determining, controlling his thought, the power of determining what types of thought he shall and what types he shall not entertain. For let us never part in mind with this fact, that every earnest effort along any line makes the end aimed at just a little easier for each succeeding effort, even if, as has been said, apparent failure is the result of the earlier efforts. This is a case where even failure is success, for the failure is not in the effort, and every earnest effort adds an increment of power that will eventually accomplish the end aimed at. We can, then, gain the full and complete power of determining what character, what type of thoughts we entertain.

Shall we now give attention to some two or three concrete cases? Here is a man, the cashier of a large mercantile establishment, or cashier of a bank. In his morning paper he reads of a man who has become suddenly rich, has made a fortune of half a million or a million dollars in a few hours through speculation on the stock market. Perhaps he has seen an account of another man who has done practically the same thing lately. He is not quite wise enough, however, to comprehend the fact that when he reads of one or two cases of this kind he could find, were he to look into the matter carefully, one or two hundred cases of men who have lost all they had in the same way. He thinks, however, that he will be one of the fortunate ones. He does not fully realize that there are no short cuts to wealth honestly made. He takes a part of his savings, and as is true in practically all cases of this kind, he loses all that he has put in, Thinking now that he sees why he lost, and that had he more money he would be able to get back what he has lost, and perhaps make a handsome sum in addition, and make it quickly, the thought comes to him to use some of the funds he has charge of. In nine cases out of ten, if not ten cases in every ten, the results that inevitably follow this are known sufficiently well to make it unnecessary to follow him farther.

Where is the man’s safety in the light of what we have been considering? Simply this: the moment the thought of using for his own purpose funds belonging to others enters his mind, if he is wise he will instantly put the thought from his mind. If he is a fool he will entertain it. In the degree in which he entertains it, it will grow upon him; it will become the absorbing thought in his mind; it will finally become master of his will power, and through rapidly succeeding steps, dishonor, shame, degradation, penitentiary, remorse will be his. It is easy for him to put the thought from his mind when it first enters; but as he entertains it, it grows into such proportions that it becomes more and more difficult for him to put it from his mind; and by and by it becomes practically impossible for him to do it. The light of the match, which but a little effort of the breath would have extinguished at first, has imparted a flame that is raging through the entire building, and now it is almost if not quite impossible to conquer it.

Shall we notice another concrete case? A trite case, perhaps, but one in which we can see how habit is formed, and also how the same habit can be unformed. Here is a young man, he may be the son of poor parents, or he may be the son of rich parents; one in the ordinary ranks of life, or one of high social standing, whatever that means. He is good hearted, one of good impulses generally speaking, a good fellow. He is out with some companions, companions of the same general type. They are out for a pleasant evening, out for a good time. They are apt at times to be thoughtless, even careless. The suggestion is made by one of the company, not that they get drunk, no, not at all; but merely that they go and have something to drink together. The young man whom we first mentioned, wanting to be genial, scarcely listens to the suggestion that comes into his inner consciousness that it will be better for him not to fall in with the others in this. He does not stop long enough to realize the fact that the greatest strength and nobility of character lies always in taking a firm stand on the aide of the right, and allow himself to be influenced by nothing that will weaken this stand. He goes, therefore, with his companions to the drinking place. With the same or with other companions this is repeated now and then; and each time it is repeated his power of saying “No” is gradually decreasing. In this way he has grown a little liking for intoxicants, and takes them perhaps now and then by himself. He does not dream, or in the slightest degree realize, what way he is tending, until there comes a day when he awakens to the consciousness of the fact that he hasn’t the power nor even the impulse to resist the taste which has gradually grown into a minor form of craving for intoxicants. Thinking, however, that he will be able to stop when he is really in danger of getting into the drink habit, he goes thoughtlessly and carelessly on. We will pass over the various intervening steps and come to the time when we find him a confirmed drunkard. It is simply the same old story told a thousand or even a million times over.

He finally awakens to his true condition; and through the shame, the anguish, the degradation, and the want that comes upon him he longs for a return of the days when he was a free man. But hope has almost gone from his life. It would have been easier for him never to have begun, and easier for him to have stopped before he reached his present condition; but even in his present condition, be it the lowest and the most helpless and hopeless that can be imagined, he has the power to get out of it and be a free man once again. Let us see. The desire for drink comes upon him again. If he entertains the thought, the desire, he is lost again. His only hope, his only means of escape is this: the moment, aye, the very instant the thought comes to him, if he will put it out of his mind he will thereby put out the little flame of the match. If he entertains the thought the little flame will communicate itself until almost before he is aware of it a consuming fire is raging, and then effort is almost useless. The thought must be banished from the mind the instant it enters; dalliance with it means failure and defeat, or a fight that will be indescribably fiercer than it would be if the thought is ejected at the beginning.

And here we must say a word regarding a certain great law that we may call the “law of indirectness.” A thought can be put out of the mind easier and more successfully, not by dwelling upon it, not by, attempting to put it out directly, but by throwing the mind on to some other object by putting some other object of thought into the mind. This may be, for example, the ideal of full and perfect self-mastery, or it may be something of a nature entirely distinct from the thought which presents itself, something to which the mind goes easily and naturally. This will in time become the absorbing thought in the mind, and the danger is past. This same course of action repeated will gradually grow the power of putting more readily out of mind the thought of drink as it presents itself, and will gradually grow the power of putting into the mind those objects of thought one most desires. The result will be that as time passes the thought of drink will present itself less and less, and when it does present itself it can be put out of the mind more easily each succeeding time, until the time comes when it can be put out without difficulty, and eventually the time will come when the thought will enter the mind no more at all.

Still another case. You may be more or less of an irritable nature naturally, perhaps, provoked easily to anger. Someone says something or does something that you dislike, and your first impulse is to show resentment and possibly to give way to anger. In the degree that you allow this resentment to display itself, that you allow yourself to give way to anger, in that degree will it become easier to do the same thing when any cause, even a very slight cause, presents itself. It will, moreover, become continually harder for you to refrain from it, until resentment, anger, and possibly even hatred and revenge become characteristics of your nature, robbing it of its sunniness, its charm, and its brightness for all with whom you come in contact.

If, however, the instant the impulse to resentment and anger arises, you check it then and there, and throw the mind on to some other object of thought, the power will gradually grow itself of doing this same thing more readily, more easily, as succeeding like causes present themselves, until by and by the time will come when there will be scarcely anything that can irritate you, and nothing that can impel you to anger; until by and by a matchless brightness and charm of nature and disposition will become habitually yours, a brightness and charm you would scarcely think possible today. And so we might take up case after case, characteristic after characteristic, habit after habit. The habit of faultfinding and its opposite are grown in identically the same way; the characteristic of jealousy and its opposite; the characteristic of fear and its opposite. In this same way we grow either love or hatred; in this way we come to take a gloomy, pessimistic view of life, which objectifies itself in a nature, a disposition of this type, or we grow that sunny, hopeful, cheerful, buoyant nature that brings with it so much joy and beauty and power for ourselves, as well as so much hope and inspiration and joy for all the world.

There is nothing more true in connection with human life than that we grow into the likeness of those things we contemplate. Literally and scientifically and necessarily true is it that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The “is” part is his character. His character is the sum total of his habits. His habits have been formed by· his conscious acts; but every conscious act is, as we have found, preceded by a thought. And so we have it – thought on the one hand, character, life, and destiny on the other. And simple it becomes when we bear in mind that it is simply the thought of the present moment, and the next moment when it is upon us, and then the next, and so on through all time.

One can in this way attain to whatever ideals he would attain to. Two steps are necessary: first, as the days pass, to form one’s ideals; and second, to follow them continually, whatever may arise, wherever they may lead him. Always remember that the great and strong character is the one who is ever ready to sacrifice the present pleasure for the future good. He who will thus follow his highest ideals as they present themselves to him day after day, year after year, will find that as Dante, following his beloved from world to world, finally found her at the gates of Paradise, so he will find himself eventually at the same gates. Life is not, we may say, for mere passing pleasure, but for the highest unfoldment that one can attain to, the noblest character that one can grow, and for the greatest service that one can render to all mankind. In this, however, we will find the highest pleasure, for in this the only real pleasure lies. He who would find it by any short cuts, or by entering upon any other paths, will inevitably find that his last state is always worse than his first; and if he proceed upon paths other than these he will find that he will never find real and lasting pleasure at all.

The question is not, “What are the conditions in our lives?” but, “How do we meet the conditions that we find there?” And whatever the conditions are, it is unwise and profitless to look upon them, even if they are conditions that we would have otherwise, in the attitude of complaint, for complaint will bring depression, and depression will weaken and possibly even kill the spirit that would engender the power that would enable us to bring into our lives an entirely new set of conditions.

In order to be concrete, even at the risk of being personal, I will say that in my own experience there have come at various times into my life circumstances and conditions that I gladly would have run from at the time—conditions that caused at the time humiliation and shame and anguish of spirit. But invariably, as sufficient time has passed, I have been able to look back and see clearly the part that every experience of the type just mentioned had to play in my life. I have seen the lessons it was essential for me to learn; and the result is that now I would not drop a single one of these experiences from my life, humiliating and hard to bear as they were at the time; no, not for the world. And here is also a lesson I have learned: whatever conditions are in my life today that are not the easiest and most agreeable, and whatever conditions of this type all coming time may bring, I will take them just as they come, without complaint, without depression, and meet them in the wisest possible way; knowing that they are the best possible conditions that could be in my life at the time, or otherwise they would not be there; realizing the fact that, although I may not at the time see why they are in my life, although I may not see just what part they have to play, the time will come, and when it comes I will see it all, and thank God for every condition just as it came.

Each one is so apt to think that his own conditions, his own trials or troubles or sorrows, or his own struggles, as the case may be, are greater than those of the great mass of mankind, or possibly greater than those of any one else in the world. He forgets that each one has his own peculiar trials or troubles or sorrows to bear, or struggles in habits to overcome, and that his is but the common lot of all the human race. We are apt to make the mistake in this — in that we see and feel keenly our own trials, or adverse conditions, or characteristics to be overcome, while those of others we do not see so clearly, and hence we are apt to think that they are not at all equal to our own. Each has his own problems to work out. Each must work out his own problems. Each must grow the insight that will enable him to see what the causes are that have brought the unfavorable conditions into his life; each must grow the strength that will enable him to face these conditions, and to set into operation forces that will bring about a different set of conditions. We may be of aid to one another by way of suggestion, by way of bringing to one another a knowledge of certain higher laws and forces — laws and forces that will make it easier to do that which we would do. The doing, however, must be done by each one for himself. And so the way to get out of any conditioning we have got into, either knowingly or inadvertently, either intentionally or unintentionally, is to take time to look the conditions squarely in the face, and to find the law whereby they have come about. And when we have discovered the law, the thing to do is not to rebel against it, not to resist it, but to go with it by working in harmony with it. If we work in harmony with it, it will work for our highest good, and will take us wheresoever we desire. If we oppose it, if we resist it, if we fail to work in harmony with it, it will eventually break us to pieces. The law is immutable in its workings. Go with it, and it brings all things our way; resist it, and it brings suffering, pain, loss, and desolation.

But a few days ago I was talking with a lady, a most estimable lady living on a little New England farm of some five or six acres. Her husband died a few years ago, a good-hearted, industrious man, but one who spent practically all of his earnings in drink. When he died the little farm was unpaid for, and the wife found herself without any visible means of support, with a family of several to care for. Instead of being discouraged with what many would have called her hard lot, instead of rebelling against the circumstances in which she found herself, she faced the matter bravely, firmly believing that there were ways by which she could manage, though she could not see them clearly at the time. She took up her burden where she found it, and went bravely forward. For several years she has been taking care of summer boarders who come to that part of the country, getting up regularly, she told me, at from half-past three to four o’clock in the morning, and working until ten o’clock each night. In the winter time, when this means of revenue is cut off, she has gone out to do nursing in the country round about. In this way the little farm is now almost paid for; her children have been kept in school, and they are now able to aid her to a greater or less extent. Through it all she has entertained no fears nor forebodings; she has shown no rebellion of any kind. She has not kicked against the circumstances which brought about the conditions in which she found herself, but she has put herself into harmony with the law that would bring her into another set of conditions. And through it all, she told me, she has been continually grateful that she has been able to work, and that whatever her own circumstances have been, she has never yet failed to find some one whose circumstances were still a little worse than hers, and for whom it was possible for her to render some little service.

Most heartily she appreciates the fact, and most grateful is she for it, that the little home is now almost paid for, and soon no more of her earnings will have to go out in that channel. The dear little home, she said, would be all the more precious to her by virtue of the fact that it was finally hers through her own efforts. The strength and nobility of character that have come to her during these years, the sweetness of disposition, the sympathy and care for others, her faith in the final triumph of all that is honest and true and pure and good, are qualities that thousands and hundreds of thousands of women, yes, of both men and women, who are apparently in better circumstances in life, can justly envy. And should the little farm home be taken away tomorrow, she has gained something that a farm of a thousand acres could not buy. By going about her work in the way she has gone about it the burden of it all has been lightened, and her work has been made truly enjoyable.

Let us take a moment to see how these same conditions would have been met by a person of less wisdom, one not so far-sighted as this dear, good woman has been. For a time possibly her spirit would have been crushed. Fears and forebodings of all kinds would probably have taken hold of her, and she would have felt that nothing that she could do would be of any avail. Or she might have rebelled against the agencies, against the law which brought about the conditions in which she found herself, and she might have become embittered against the world, and gradually also against the various people with whom she came in contact. Or again, she might have thought that her efforts would be unable to meet the circumstances, and that it was the duty of someone to lift her out of her difficulties. In this way no progress at all would have been made towards the accomplishment of the desired results, and continually she would have felt more keenly the circumstances in which she found herself, because there was nothing else to occupy her mind. In this way the little farm would not have become hers, she would not have been able to do anything for others, and her nature would have become embittered against everything and everybody.

True it is, then, not, “What are the conditions in one’s life?” but, “How does he meet the conditions that he finds there?” This will determine all. And if at any time we are apt to think that our own lot is about the hardest there is, and if we are able at any time to persuade ourselves that we can find no one whose lot is just a little harder than ours, let us then study for a little while the character Pompilia, in Browning’s poem and after studying it, thank God that the conditions in our life are so favorable; and then set about with a trusting and intrepid spirit to actualize the conditions that we most desire.

Thought is at the bottom of all progress or retrogression, of all success or failure, of all that is desirable or undesirable in human life. The type of thought we entertain both creates and draws conditions that crystallize about it, conditions exactly the same in nature as is the thought that gives them form. Thoughts are forces, and each creates of its kind, whether we realize it or not. The great law of the drawing power of the mind, which says that like creates like, and that like attracts like, is continually working in every human life, for it is one of the great immutable laws of the universe. For one to take time to see clearly the things he would attain to, and then to hold that ideal steadily and continually before his mind, never allowing faith — his positive thought-forces — to give way to or to be neutralized by doubts and fears, and then to set about doing each day what his hands find to do, never complaining, but spending the time that he would otherwise spend in complaint in focusing his thought-forces upon the ideal that his mind has built, will sooner or later bring about the full materialization of that for which he sets out. There are those who, when they begin to grasp the fact that there is what we may term a “science of thought,” who, when they begin to realize that through the instrumentality of our interior, spiritual, thought-forces we have the power of gradually molding the everyday conditions of life as we would have them, in their early enthusiasm are not able to see results as quickly as they expect and are apt to think, therefore, that after all there is not very much in that which has but newly come to their knowledge. They must remember, however, that in endeavoring to overcome an old habit or to grow a new habit, everything cannot be done all at once.

In the degree that we attempt to use the thought-forces do we continually become able to use them more effectively. Progress is slow at first, more rapid as we proceed. Power grows by using, or, in other words, using brings a continually increasing power. This is governed by law the same as are all things in our lives, and all things in the universe about us. Every act and advancement made by the musician is in full accordance with law. No one commencing the study of music can, for example, sit down to the piano and play the piece of a master at the first effort. He must not conclude, however, nor does he conclude, that the piece of the master cannot be played by him, or, for that matter, by anyone. He begins to practice the piece. The law of the mind that we have already noticed comes to his aid, whereby his mind follows the music more readily, more rapidly, and more surely each succeeding time, and there also comes into operation and to his aid the law underlying the action of the reflex nerve system of the body, which we have also noticed, whereby his fingers co-ordinate their movements with the movements of his mind more readily, more rapidly, and more accurately each succeeding time; until by and by the time comes when that which he stumbles through at first, that in which there is no harmony, nothing but discord, finally reveals itself as the music of the master, the music that thrills and moves masses of men and women. So it is in the use of the thought-forces. It is the reiteration, the constant reiteration of the thought that grows the power of continually stronger thought-focusing, and that finally brings manifestation.

There is character-building not only for the young but for the old as well. And what a difference there is in elderly people! How many grow old gracefully, and how many grow old in ways of quite a different nature. There is a sweetness and charm that combine for attractiveness in old age the same as there is something that cannot be described by these words. Some grow continually more dear to their friends and to the members of their immediate households, while others become possessed of the idea that their friends and the members of their households have less of a regard for them than they formerly had, and many times they are not far wrong. The one continually sees more in life to enjoy, the other sees continually less. The one becomes more dear and attractive to others, the other less so. And why is this? Through chance? By no means. Personally I do not believe there is any such thing as chance in the whole of human life, nor even in the world or the great universe in which we live. The one great law of cause and effect is absolute; and effect is always kindred to its own peculiar cause, although we may have at times to go back considerably farther than we are accustomed to in order to find the cause, the parent of this or that effect, or actualized, though not necessarily permanently actualized, condition.

Why, then, the vast difference in the two types of elderly people? The one keeps from worryings, and fearings, and frettings, and foundationless imaginings, while the other seems especially to cultivate these, to give himself or herself especially to them. And why is this? At a certain time in life, differing somewhat in different people, life-long mental states, habits, and characteristics begin to focus themselves and come to the surface, so to speak. Predominating thoughts and mental states begin to show themselves in actualized qualities and characteristics as never before, and no one is immune.

In the lane leading to the orchard is a tree. For years it has been growing only “natural fruit.” Not long since it was grafted upon. The spring has come and gone. One-half of the tree was in bloom and the other half also. The blossoms on each part could not be distinguished by the casual observer. The blossoms have been followed by young fruit which hangs abundantly on the entire tree. There is but a slight difference in it now; but a few weeks later the difference in form, in size, in color, in flavor, in keeping qualities, will be so marked that no one can fail to tell them apart or have difficulty in choosing between them. The one will be a small, somewhat hard and gnarled, tart, yellowish-green apple, and will keep but a few weeks into the fall of the year. The other will be a large, delicately flavored apple, mellow, deep red in color, and will keep until the tree which bore it is in bloom again.

But why this incident from nature’s garden? This. Up to a certain period in the fruit’s growth, although the interior, forming qualities of the apples were slightly different from the beginning, there was but little to distinguish them. At a certain period in their growth, however, their differing interior qualities began to externalize themselves so rapidly and so markedly that the two fruits became of such a vastly different type that, as we have seen, no one could hesitate in choosing between them. And knowing once the soul, the forming, the determining qualities of each, we can thereafter tell beforehand with a certainty that is quite absolute what it, the externalized product of each portion of the tree, will be.

And it is quite the same in human life. If one would have a beautiful and attractive old age, he must begin it in youth and in middle life. If, however, he has neglected or failed in this, he can then wisely adapt himself to circumstances and give himself zealously to putting into operation all necessary counter-balancing forces and influences. Where there is life nothing is ever irretrievably lost, though the enjoyment of the higher good may be long delayed. But if one would have an especially beautiful and attractive old age he must begin it in early and in middle life, for there comes by and by a sort of “rounding-up” process when long-lived-in habits of thought begin to take unto themselves a strongly dominating power, and the thought habits of a lifetime begin to come to the surface.

Fear and worry, selfishness, a hard-fisted, grabbing, holding disposition, a carping, fault-finding, nagging tendency, a slavery of thought and action to the thinking or to the opinions of others, a lacking of consideration, thought, and sympathy for others, a lack of charity for the thoughts, the motives, and the acts of others, a lack of knowledge of the powerful and inevitable building qualities of thought, as well as a lack of faith in the eternal goodness and love and power of the Source of our being, all combine in time to make the old age of those in whom they find life, that barren, cheerless, unwelcome something, unattractive or even repellent to itself as well as to others, that we not infrequently find, while their opposites, on the contrary, combine, and seem to be helped on by heavenly agencies, to bring about that cheerful, hopeful, helpful, beautified, and hallowed old age that is so welcome and so attractive both to itself and to all with whom it comes in contact. Both types of thoughts, qualities, and dispositions, moreover, externalize themselves in the voice, in the peculiarly different ways in which they mark the face, in the stoop or lack of stoop in the form, as also in the healthy or unhealthy conditions of the mind and body, and their susceptibility to disorders and weaknesses of various kinds.

It is not a bad thing for each one early to get a little “philosophy” into his life. It will be of much aid as he advances in life; it will many times be a source of great comfort, as well as of strength, in trying times and in later life. We may even, though gently perhaps, make sport of the one who has his little philosophy, but unless we have something similar the time will come when the very lack of it will deride us. It may be at times, though not necessarily, that the one who has it is not always so successful in affairs when it comes to a purely money or business success, but it supplies many times a very real something in life that the one of money or business success only is starving for, though he doesn’t know what the real lack is, and although he hasn’t money enough in all the world to buy it did he know.

It is well to find our centre early, and if not early then late; but, late or early, the thing to do is to find it. While we are in life the one essential thing is to play our part bravely and well and to keep our active interest in all its varying phases, the same as it is well to be able to adapt ourselves always to changing conditions. It is by the winds of heaven blowing over it continually and keeping it in constant motion, or by its continual onward movement, that the water in pool or stream is kept sweet and clear, for otherwise it would become stagnant and covered with slime. If we are attractive or unattractive to ourselves and to others the cause lies in ourselves; this is true of all ages, and it is well for us, young or old, to recognize it. It is well, other things being equal, to adapt ourselves to those about us, but it is hardly fair for the old to think that all the adapting should be on the part of the young, with no kindred duty on their part. Many times old-age loses much of its attractiveness on account of a peculiar notion of this kind. The principle of reciprocity must hold in all ages in life, and whatever the age, if we fail to observe it, it results always sooner or later in our own undoing.

We are all in Life’s great play— comedy and tragedy, smiles and tears, sunshine and shadow, summer and winter, and in time we take all parts. We must take our part, whatever it may be, at any given time, always bravely and with a keen appreciation of every opportunity, and a keen alertness at every turn as the play progresses. A good “entrance” and a good “exit” contribute strongly to the playing of a deservedly worthy role. We are not always able perhaps to choose just as we would the details of our entrance, but the manner of our playing and the manner of our exit we can all determine, and this no man, no power can deny us; this in every human life can be made indeed most glorious, however humble it may begin, or however humble it may remain or exalted it may become, according to conventional standards of judgment.

To me we are here for divine self-realization through experience. We progress in the degree that we manipulate wisely all things that enter into our lives, and that make the sum total of each one’s life experience. Let us be brave and strong in the presence of each problem as it presents itself and make the best of all. Let us help the things we can help, and let us be not bothered or crippled by the things we cannot help. The great God of all is watching and manipulating these things most wisely and we need not fear or even have concern regarding them.

To live to our highest in all things that pertain to us, to lend a hand as best we can to all others for this same end, to aid in righting the wrongs that cross our path by means of pointing the wrongdoer to a better way, and thus aiding him in becoming a power for good, to remain in nature always sweet and simple and humble, and therefore strong, to open ourselves fully and to keep ourselves as fit channels for the Divine Power to work through us, to open ourselves, and to keep our faces always to the light, to love all things and to stand in awe or fear of nothing save our own wrong-doing, to recognize the good lying at the heart of all things, waiting for expression all in its own good way and time—this will make our part in life’s great and as yet not fully understood play truly glorious, and we need then stand in fear of nothing, life nor death, for death is life. Or rather, it is the quick transition to life in another form; the putting off of the old coat and the putting on of a new; the falling away of the material body and the taking of the soul to itself a new and finer body, better adapted to its needs and surroundings in another world of experience and growth and still greater divine self-realization; a going out with all that it has gained of this nature in this world, but with no possessions material; a passing not from light to darkness, but from light to light; a taking up of life in another from just where we leave it off here; an experience not to be shunned or dreaded or feared, but to be welcomed when it comes in its own good way and time.

All life is from within out. This is something that cannot be reiterated too often. The springs of life are all from within. This being true, it would be well for us to give more time to the inner life than we are accustomed to give to it, especially in this Western world.

There is nothing that will bring us such abundant returns as to take a little time in the quiet each day of our lives. We need this to get the kinks out of our minds, and hence out of our lives. We need this to form better the higher ideals of life. We need this in order to see clearly in mind the things upon which we would concentrate and focus the thought-forces. We need this in order to make continually anew and to keep our conscious connection with the Infinite. We need this in order that the rush and hurry of our everyday life does not keep us away from the conscious realization of the fact that the spirit of Infinite life and power that is back of all, working in and through all, the life of all, is the life of our life, and the source of our power; and that outside of this we have no life and we have no power. To realize this fact fully, and to live in it consciously at all times, is to find the kingdom of God, which is essentially an inner kingdom, and can never be anything else. The kingdom of heaven is to be found only within, and this is done once for all, and in a manner in which it cannot otherwise be done, when we come into the conscious, living realization of the fact that in our real selves we are essentially one with the Divine life, and open ourselves continually so that this Divine life can speak to and manifest through us. In this way we come into the condition where we are continually walking with God. In this way the consciousness of God becomes a living reality in our lives; and in the degree in which it becomes a reality does it bring us into the realization of continually increasing wisdom, insight, and power. This consciousness of God in the soul of man is the essence, indeed, the sum and substance, of all religion. This identifies religion with every act and every moment of everyday life. That which does not identify itself with every moment of every day and with every act of life is religion in name only and not in reality. This consciousness of God in the soul of man is the one thing uniformly taught by all the prophets, by all the inspired ones, by all the seers and mystics in the world’s history, whatever the time, wherever the country, whatever the religion, whatever minor differences we may find in their lives and teachings. In regard to this they all agree; indeed, this is the essence of their teaching, as it has also been the secret of their power and the secret of their lasting influence.

It is the attitude of the child that is necessary before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. As it was said, “Except ye become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” For we then realize that of ourselves we can do nothing, but that it is only as we realize that it is the Divine life and power working within us, and it is only as we open ourselves that it may work through us, that we are or can do anything. It is thus that the simple life, which is essentially the life of the greatest enjoyment and the greatest attainment, is entered upon.

In the Orient the people as a class take far more time in the quiet, in the silence, than we take. Some of them carry this possibly to as great an extreme as we carry the opposite, with the result that they do not actualize and objectify in the outer life the things they dream in the inner life. We give so much time to the activities of the outer life that we do not take sufficient time in the quiet to form in the inner, spiritual, thought-life the ideals and the conditions that we would have actualized and manifested in the outer life. The result is that we take life in a kind of haphazard way, taking it as it comes, thinking not very much about it until, perhaps, pushed by some bitter experiences, instead of molding it, through the agency of the inner forces, exactly as we would have it. We need to strike the happy balance between the custom in this respect of the Eastern and Western worlds, and go to the extreme of neither the one nor the other. This alone will give the ideal life; and it is the ideal life only that is the thoroughly satisfactory life. In the Orient there are many who are day after day sitting in the quiet, meditating, contemplating, idealizing, with their eyes focused on their stomachs in spiritual revery, while through lack of outer activities, in their stomachs, they are actually starving. In this Western world, men and women, in the rush and activity of our accustomed life, are running hither and thither, with no centre, no foundation upon which to stand, nothing to which they can anchor their lives, because they do not take sufficient time to come into the realization of what the centre, of what the reality of their lives is.

If the Oriental would do his contemplating, and then get up and do his work, he would be in a better condition; he would be living a more normal and satisfactory life. If we in the Occident would take more time from the rush and activity of life for contemplation, for meditation, for idealization, for becoming acquainted with our real selves, and then go about our work manifesting the powers of our real selves, we would be far better off, because we would be living a more natural, a more normal life. To find one’s centre, to become centred in the Infinite, is the first great essential of every satisfactory life; and then to go out, thinking, speaking, working, loving, living, from this centre.

In the highest character-building, such as we have been considering, there are those who feel they are handicapped by what we term heredity. In a sense they are right; in another sense they are totally wrong. It is along the same lines as the thought which many before us had inculcated in them through the couplet in the New England Primer: “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” Now, in the first place, it is rather hard to understand the justice of this if it is true. In the second place, it is rather hard to understand why it is true. And in the third place there is no truth in it at all. We are now dealing with the real essential self, and, however old Adam is, God is eternal. This means you; it means me; it means every human soul. When we fully realize this fact we see that heredity is a reed that is easily broken. The life of every one is in his own hands and he can make it in character, in attainment, in power, in divine self-realization, and hence in influence, exactly what he wills to make it. All things that he most fondly dreams of are his, or may become so if he is truly in earnest; and as he rises more and more to his ideal, and grows in the strength and influence of his character, he becomes an example and an inspiration to all with whom he comes in contact; so that through him the weak and faltering are encouraged and strengthened; so that those of low ideals and of a low type of life instinctively and inevitably have their ideals raised, and the ideals of no one can be raised without its showing forth in his outer life. As he advances in his grasp upon and understanding of the power and potency of the thought-forces, he finds that many times through the process of mental suggestion he can be of tremendous aid to one who is weak and struggling, by sending him now and then, and by continually holding him in, the highest thought, in the thought of the highest strength, wisdom and love. The power of “suggestion,” mental suggestion, is one that has tremendous possibilities for good if we will but study into it carefully, understand it fully, and use it rightly.

The one who takes sufficient time in the quiet mentally to form his ideals, sufficient time to make and to keep continually his conscious connection with the Infinite, with the Divine life and forces, is the one who is best adapted to the strenuous life. He it is who can go out and deal, with sagacity and power, with whatever issues may arise in the affairs of everyday life. He it is who is building not for the years but for the centuries; not for time, but for the eternities. And he can go out knowing not whither he goes, knowing that the Divine life within him will never fail him, but will lead him on until he beholds the Father face to face.

He is building for the centuries because only that which is the highest, the truest, the noblest, and best will abide the test of the centuries. He is building for eternity because when the transition we call death takes place, life, character, self-mastery, divine self-realization — the only things that the soul when stripped of everything else takes with it — he has in abundance, in life, or when the time of the transition to another form of life comes, he is never afraid, never fearful, because he knows and realizes that behind him, within him, beyond him, is the Infinite wisdom and love; and in this he is eternally centred, and from it he can never be separated. With Whittier he sings:

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care

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Builders and Destroyers https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=19 https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=19#comments Sat, 20 Jul 2024 06:30:24 +0000 Harrison Barnes https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=19 Several years ago, I wrote an article for BCG Attorney Search called “Builders and Destroyers”. In this article, I discussed the two types of people one may encounter inside a law firm: (1) People whose mission it is to build and improve things around them, and (2) People whose mission seems to be to tear down, criticize, and damage the whole.

In reviewing the financial crisis this past week, and in thinking about my own career and life, I come back more and more to this belief and its importance in the business world.

Organizations surrounding themselves with positive employees – and that even make this attitude a requirement – typically have higher success than those who do not. In the law firm merger space, for example, I have noticed that firms that do not merge, and instead raise and maintain their own positive culture, tend to do much better in the long run (and survive), as compared to law firms that do not do the same. The social culture of law firms, and all organizations, tends to be much healthier, and conducive to success when the organization surrounds itself with positive people.

When organizations grow too quickly and unnaturally, they often end up absorbing at least a few negative people. The forces inside the organization that would have traditionally kept these people out cease to function as they should. On Wall Street, with the advent of mortgages being sold in bulk, a similar lack of accountability has entered the system. The contact bankers used to have with borrowers, and the subsequent understanding of their particular family and work history, is gone. Also, it seems some employers do not care who people are as long as they appear to contribute to the bottom line. People who cannot contribute to the overall system effectively or for a sustained period of time are also allowed in for one reason or another.

It benefits everything, be it a system, organization, or individual, to avoid those who do not contribute positively along the path to success and growth. For example, we have all come across people who continually find fault in the world and in the people around them. We know how draining people like this can be. When organizations bring in these types of individuals, it affects the whole. Staff can become unmotivated and unsure of themselves and their organization. Personally, when I spend time with negative people I tend to get a little depressed. I also notice avoiding them makes me feel better.

While my career advice may be an overly simplistic solution, I do believe that many problems can be solved by having more personal accountability, and by surrounding ourselves with positive, forward-thinking people, those who want and are able to work toward a common goal. As simple as it may seem, I have experienced how big a difference this can make.


Companies necessarily seek to employ positive, forward-minded people. A firm’s success depends on their employees, and they seek people who will enhance them rather than merely contribute to the bottom line. People with positive natures, who contribute to a healthy social environment, prove essential to the growth and success of their employers.

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Push Yourself Outside Your Comfort Zone https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=14138 https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=14138#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2024 06:30:05 +0000 Harrison Barnes https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=14138

About ten years ago, an attorney who had been practicing about seven or eight years longer than me purchased his first house.  I remember congratulating him on the purchase, and his response shocked me at the time:

“I am very happy with the house.  I plan on living here the rest of my life.”

I just looked him up and he is still living there.

At the time, I purchased a house of equivalent value in the exact same neighborhood he did.  I sold my house within two years. Then I bought another house and moved.  Then I bought another house and moved. Then I bought another house and moved. Then I bought another house and moved.

Why so much movement?

Each time I bought a house, I spent all of my free time redoing the house. I would redo the floors, I would paint, I put in new landscaping, I built pools, I created new rooms inside the house, I tore out just about every kitchen and bathroom, and I fixed everything that was wrong.  I became obsessed with making the house perfect. I was never satisfied with the quality of the house when I moved in.  One time I did this, and in less than two years I sold the house for over $1 million more than I had purchased it for.

Once I had made the house perfect, I would start to get very bored and restless.  I needed to continually be improving the house, and without this to do, I invariably would put the home on the market. Because the house was in such great condition, it would almost always sell very rapidly. Then I would find a new (superior) house and do the same thing again.

In business, I am the same way. I am continually going “full throttle” at work and spend hours a day writing down various things that need to be improved and doing reports.  In business, this sort of work never ends. I am never comfortable or satisfied with the way things are going, and I’m always doing everything I can to fix what seems to be broken. It is an obsession. I even carry a notebook in my car to make sure I am taking note of everything that needs to be improved at all times. I spend my entire day on Sundays writing down stuff that needs to improve. I never get satisfied.

Week after week, month after month, year after year, I am working myself up into a virtual “mini-frenzy” finding things that are wrong or need improvement. I am fighting a constant, ongoing battle to make sure that everything I do and am involved in is being perfected to the most I can.  The problem with a business and relationships with people is that nothing can ever be perfected like it can with a house.  These sorts of things involve constant oversight.

I am not alone in my obsession with residential real estate. For several years, I was with a woman who was an extremely successful landscape architect. She worked for men who were billionaires and she worked exclusively on their homes. The men were obsessed with the smallest of details in their quest to perfect their homes. No detail was too small or unimportant. Despite employing tens of thousands of people, men like this could give you a ten-minute lecture about how their pool heater functions, or spend hours discussing the seasonality of various plants on their property. I am guessing that these men took such interest in their homes because it was the one thing they could control with certainty.  Like me, these men always seemed to sell their homes after completing all of the work. I believe that they thrived on being dissatisfied and that the ability to become dissatisfied was the source of their success.

In terms of the attorney who bought the home he planned on living in for the rest of his life, I certainly do not think there is anything wrong with this.  However, he clearly did not have the state of mind where he was going to push himself outside of his comfort zone continually. Doing so most likely would have changed his life.

When I was in law school, I remember going out to an event one evening with one of my classmates.  We were sitting in his car waiting for some people to show up and he said:

This is great.  All we need to do is complete law school and we can get jobs paying $60,000 a year for the rest of our lives.

“This is great.  All we need to do is complete law school and we can get jobs paying $60,000 a year for the rest of our lives.”

At the time, I remember thinking that there was something a little sad about this. His goal was to just become comfortable and leave it at that. After he graduated from law school, he worked in the same law firm for twelve years, and then one day the law firm told him they could not afford to pay him anymore. He had gotten comfortable, but ultimately this comfort ended up turning on him.

If you want to be successful, you are never going to be able to get too comfortable.

If you want to be successful, you are never going to be able to get too comfortable.

Everyone wants to be comfortable. The fights that are continually going on between unions and companies (or unions and governments) are generally about comforts.  People want to be guaranteed a job. People want to be guaranteed they cannot be laid off. People want to be guaranteed a certain amount of vacation. People want to be guaranteed health care. People want to be guaranteed they only have to work a certain number of hours a week.

When people succeed, they tend to feel good about themselves and they tend to forget what got them to where they are. When I was 14 years old, my father remarried.  Within a few months of remarrying, he moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where he was working on a business.  My stepmother stayed behind for three months to wind up all of our household-related affairs.

Three months later when my step mother arrived in Bangkok, my father was waiting for her as she got off the plane. She walked right by him and he did not recognize her.  Incredibly, she had gained more than fifty pounds and no longer looked like the same person. She continued to gain more and more weight over the next year of the marriage–at which point my father and stepmother divorced. My father realized that she had “slimmed down” after her divorce from her prior husband and then gained all of the weight back right after getting married again. In sum, she was “comfortable” again after she had remarried.

I think my father and stepmother had other problems besides the fact that she gained 100-plus pounds; however, I believe that my stepmother becoming too comfortable had something to do with the collapse of the marriage.  You can never get too comfortable with anyone or anything.

One of the best things that can happen to you in your life is to fail.  When you fail at something, you get frustrated, your brain starts turning over and over what might have happened to make you fail, and you look for ways not to fail the next time.  Frustration, rejection, and failure are some of the most powerful emotions we have access to because they can help us improve in everything we are doing.

Yesterday, I was reading a business-related book and I came upon a discussion about various well-known and successful people who have filed for bankruptcy:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Walt Disney
  • Henry Ford
  • Milton Hershey (Hershey Chocolate)
  • Donald Trump
  • Larry King
  • Henry John Heinz (Heinz Ketchup)
  • Mark Twain
  • P.T. Barnum
  • Rembrandt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • William Crapo Durant (founder of General Motors)
  • William Fox (founder of the Fox Film Corporation)

Prior to reviewing this list, I never was aware that any of these people ever had any sort of financial trouble. I have known scores of extremely successful people in my life who ended up getting extremely overextended financially—and in all sorts of other ways. I would say that one secret of the most successful people is that they are always pushing things beyond their comfort zone. They are never satisfied with the status quo. Financial obstacles do not stand in their way, and this can often have disastrous consequences.

Each of the men above probably could have used lots of justifications for not spending too much money and remaining “comfortable.” Most of these men prior to their bankruptcies already had very successful careers and lives.  But each of them kept pushing and pushing. They were never satisfied with what they had, and they pushed themselves and their businesses far beyond an acceptable comfort zone.

Each time you get outside of your comfort zone—and you succeed–you create a new sense of what is normal for you in your life. Then you push yourself out of your comfort zone again and get a new sense once more. Pretty soon your life becomes completely unrecognizable to what it was before. You need to continually get dissatisfied and push yourself outside your comfort zone.


You can never become too comfortable if you wish to be successful. Your success will largely depend on your ability to become dissatisfied with your current position. Successful people are never satisfied with the status quo, and constantly push beyond their comfort zone. When do you this and succeed, you set a new standard for normality in your life. Be continually dissatisfied, and always pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

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Be Resourceful https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=2666 https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=2666#respond Thu, 18 Jul 2024 06:30:51 +0000 Harrison Barnes https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=2666

Something that very few people realize is the most important aspect in any of our success, regardless of whom we may be, is our ability to be resourceful. Being resourceful is an incredible skill and something that really separates the extraordinary people out there from the average. In fact, if you can be resourceful, you can do and achieve just about anything.

I rarely remember my dreams, but for some reason, I have a vivid memory about a dream I had last evening. When I was young, I used to go to an asphalt tar plant called Goddard Coatings, in Auburn Hills, Michigan, to purchase various materials for my asphalt work. I dreamed I was going back right now, some 15 years after my last visit to the asphalt plant. Back then, Goddard Coatings was a family owned business and in addition to selling asphalt coatings, occasionally they would sell various types of equipment. In the dream, I was going back there and discovered they had no business because the economy in Detroit is so slow at the moment. In addition, I discovered they had some equipment for sale at very good prices.

While I won’t get too far into this dream, the idea the entire dream represented to me was that now is a time of opportunity. I thought about the fact that the asphalt coatings business might be available for sale now at a good price. I thought about how I could purchase equipment at a good price. I thought about how I could figure out how to gain market share in the asphalt business during a very slow time in Detroit. I enjoyed this dream and thinking about it right now makes me quite excited.

Now, I’m dreaming on a very basic level. What I’m trying to show you is that there are reasons to get excited right now. When bad things are happening in the economy and change is occurring, you can do very well and you can achieve all of these things through the power of resourcefulness. Your ability to be resourceful is among the greatest gifts that you have. The more resourceful you are, the better you can do at anything and everything out there.

The people who have historically achieved the most in every single industry and are American icons of sorts, are the captains of various industries who figured out how to be resourceful. For example, Henry Ford figured out how to make cars faster and cheaper using an assembly line. Sam Walton figured out how to bring large stores to small towns. Steve Jobs figured out how to sell MP3s to people using iPods. Cars existed before Henry Ford came along. Large stores existed before Sam Walton came along. All any of these people did was look at the existing way things were done and improved upon them. If you are able to be resourceful and take what you already know and improve upon this, then you can accomplish really extraordinary things.

One of the funniest examples of resourcefulness is the practice many publishers have of changing the titles of various books. A book can be sitting on a shelf not selling a single copy, and then the publisher decides to suddenly change the title and “BOOM” the book becomes a best seller. This is a phenomenon I’ve heard about for years, and it’s something that works.

What does any of this mean for your career and life? What this means is that you need to learn to use your resources and everything around you for your maximum benefit. Far, far too many people fail to take advantage of their existing resources and, instead, sit around feeling as if they cannot do things in a certain way or achieve what they want to achieve due to various limitations. This is what I would term “deficit based thinking” and deficit based thinking isn’t something that is in your best interest to continually do. Many people spend their lives and all of their time thinking about the things that are wrong, and what they don’t have, instead of what is right and the things they do have. When you start concentrating on your resources and what you have at your disposal, the world changes and what is available to help you reach your goals makes a large fundamental change as well.

Regardless of the economy, there are always going to be businesses which are doing well. Everything seems to move in cycles. If you are interested in working in a thriving industry, at any point in time there are an incredible number of businesses that are thriving. In addition, at different points in time, there are geographic areas which are always doing well. Geographic areas, hot industries, and so forth are examples of resources that you have available to you on a macro sense.

On a micro sense, there are countless resources you can take advantage of to assist you in reaching whatever goals you are seeking to reach in your career. If you are looking for a job, these resources are incredibly widespread and and something you need to really take advantage of.

Getting a really good job is something that can be compared in some respects to playing the lottery. All you need is to hit once, and you can be a winner. You can win it all by one pick of the draw. However, in order to win the lottery, you need to increase your odds. If your life is depending on winning the lottery tomorrow and you were told that unless you won you would die the next day, you would likely go out and get every cent you could together, borrow all of the money you could from everyone you know, and take every resource you could to purchase as many lottery tickets as possible. You might even consult someone (an expert) about which numbers were most likely to come up that day. In short, you would do everything within your power you could to increase your odds.

In order to be as resourceful as possible in your job search, you also need to do everything within your power to increase your odds. You need to give yourself the best chance possible of getting a job and, in order to do this, the most important thing you can do for yourself is be as resourceful as possible.

  • You need to find everyone out there who can help you.
  • You need to call people you have worked with in the past.
  • You need to call people you’ve interviewed with in the past.
  • You need to apply to as many jobs as possible.
  • You need to make your résumé as good as possible.
  • You need to make your appearance as good as possible for interviews.
  • You need to follow up after interviews.
  • You need to learn how to interview as well as you can.
  • You need to learn to write the best cover letters possible.
  • You need to be as geographically flexible as possible.
  • You need to market yourself as different things to different people.

If you go out there and think about people who are achieving the most in the world, most of them had the ability to be resourceful. You too need to do everything within your power to be resourceful in your job search, life, and career. Be resourceful.


Resourcefulness can make you better at everything you do, and separates the truly extraordinary people from the general herd. Do everything within your power to be resourceful in your job search, life, and career to give yourself the best possible chance of achieving your goals, and learn how to employ the resources currently at your disposal for maximum impact.

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Sick Crows, Your Attitude, and Being on the Winning Team https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=3113 https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=3113#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2024 06:30:43 +0000 Harrison Barnes https://www.harrisonbarnes.com/?p=3113 Over the past week I have been witnessing something extremely unusual in my backyard.

There is a crow outside, who appears to be ill – he’s not doing well at all. The crow appears to be infected with West Nile Virus. He wanders around appearing drunk, frequently falling over. He stands in one place most of the time. The interesting thing about this crow, however, is that all around him, there are a multitude of other crows cackling and cawing at him, almost as if they are supporting him – cheering him on. So many crows perched high up in the trees are making noise all day long, looking down upon him.

Anytime I go outside, the crows go crazy and warn their sick friend that I am around. They fly close to me overhead if I walk near the crow. My family and I have been doing what we can to help, offering him water and so forth. However, the crow appears to be too out of it even to drink water.

The crow spent his first several days wandering around the garden. More recently, he has taken up residence on some wooden steps. When humans are not around, groups of crows congregate around this particular crow keeping him company. All of the steps near the crow are completely covered in bird droppings.

Having never seen animals act like this, I am absolutely astonished by how supportive these other crows have been. Typically when an animal is dying, other surrounding animals leave it to die. However, here the crow has a huge audience of supporters cheering for him, hoping he will get better. These crows are really showing a ton of solidarity for this cause.

Most people do not want to be part of a losing situation. Being part of a losing situation makes us extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable, and it is something that we want to avoid altogether. In fact, this is almost a law of the world: Most people, animals, and others will do what they can to avoid a losing situation. That is what makes the situation with this crow so remarkable.

I spent a lot of time visiting relatives and others in hospitals growing up. Hospitals to me are about the most depressing places on earth. There are people who have lost their mind. Other people are writhing in pain. Some people are dying. The food is horrible. The surfaces are so hard, often cold. Most of the people are very impersonal. There is a lot not to like about hospitals.

I remember sitting in the hospital once with one of our old family friends when he had come to visit a very sick relative of ours. He was in his 40s at the time and had spent his life in a “hard charging” way having all sorts of adventures and mishaps. He drank a lot and used drugs. He had slept around a lot. He wore leather and rode around on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He had inherited a lot of money and did not need to work.

But when we saw him that day, within a few moments of entering the hospital it appeared that everything had changed with him. I saw his entire face frown, his body slump, and he broke out into a sweat. I am not sure if it was that he was confronting his own mortality at the moment, or what it was. What I do know, however, was that the sight of the hospital made him physically ill. He excused himself and went to the bathroom where he must have thrown up.

We had walked through the corridors on the way to visit my relative, and the doors to all the individual patient rooms were open. Our friend had looked in each room and each room seemed to hold something that was more disheartening than the last. A man on a lung machine. Someone in another room who looked over 120 years old. Someone in another room who was bandaged from head to toe.

This friend visited my relative for only a few minutes, just enough time to turn down some warm apple juice that was offered to him by an orderly. This person had been close to our family, and specifically this relative, for his entire life. But after that hospital visit, he just dropped off the face of the earth. He did not even attend the funeral a few years later.

“I haven’t been in a hospital in 20 years!” I remember him exclaiming as we had walked through the automatic doors of the hospital entrance, with a smile still on his face.

But then, within a matter of moments, suddenly he was confronted with his own mortality, with losing, and with death. And he simply could not bear it.

None of us want to be associated with the losing side.

When I was growing up, my best friend lived with his grandmother, who had gotten multiple sclerosis at a young age, and eventually was confined to bed. When I used to visit my friend, his grandmother loved to sit and talk for hours on end. She was a nice woman and I would often sit and chat with her. However, I am ashamed to admit that sitting with her for long periods of time often made me uncomfortable. Looking back I think it was mostly because I was afraid of being sick myself. You might call me a horrible person, but I often feel uneasy when I am speaking with people who are sick and dying, because it reminds me that I too will not be around forever.

I also feel uncomfortable when spending time with people who are losing and doing horribly. For example, on the school playground when kids would pick each other for teammates, the children who are picked last are 99 out of 100 times not the most popular kids. The kids who are bad at sports also typically experience a spillover effect, wherein they also become unpopular with the other kids, due to their lack of athletic ability. The other kids do not want to associate with losers.

I think this is something in our genetic makeup, which helps us with survival. If we associate with people who are losing we are likely to lose as well. We want to stay on the side of the people who are winning. We know that being around winners is most likely to make us a winner as well.

If a man wants to attract the most desirable mate, he does not say to himself: “I am going to fail at everything I do, be unemployed, and lose at everything. I am also going to let my body go and get really depressed.”

No. Generally, the man will do what he can to better himself and be as attractive as possible, as powerful and happy as possible, and as wealthy as possible. The goal is to always be, or at least appear to be on the winning side. In order to impress a woman, a man does not walk up to her and start explaining what a loser he is, and how he fails at everything he tries. Instead, he does the opposite. When you hear about the most desirable people getting married they are generally not marrying the weak, down on their luck, and depressed people out there. They are pairing up with those who appear to be on the winning side.

Did someone ever recommend a bad doctor to you?

“Hey, this guy is horrible and he will really misdiagnose and mess you up. He’ll hack you up real bad. You gotta check him out.”

Of course no one has ever said this to you. Instead, the doctors you get recommended are usually people who are “the best in their field” and the top of this or that. Every time someone has recommended a doctor to me they have told me how the doctor won this or that award – i.e., the doctor is on the winning side.

In the practice of law, no one ever recommends attorneys to others with a recommendation like:

“You need to use this guy. He lost the case for me and has lost his last several cases. Almost all of his former clients are in jail!”

We simply do not receive these sorts of recommendations from people. Instead we hear about the attorney who wins all of his cases – the best in town.

If a sports team is losing and doing horribly, its attendance will sag and go down. Some will go to watch the games, but far fewer people want to go watch a losing team than a winning team. We want to associate with winners.

In school growing up, and out in the adult world, you never see a group of happy people standing around talking to someone who is depressed and complaining. Instead, the person they are attracted to is the one who is positive in nature, smiling, and excited about the world. This is the person who attracts friends and followers.

Advertisers do not hire as spokespeople the athletes who have lost more than they have won; they hire the people who win and are constantly exuding excitement about what they are doing.

And this brings me to you: Everyone wants to associate with winners and hire winners, and everyone runs like hell from losers. The smartest employers out there typically hire based on attitude. The best people I have hired in my life have not had the best educations, the best families, or even the best experience: They had the best attitude. A great attitude is the most important possible quality you can possess, and there is nothing more important to an employer.

With very limited exceptions, almost any skill can be taught on the job. You could learn to fly, and land a 747 airplane with 500 passengers on it in a week, with no previous flight experience if you needed to. A surgeon could teach you how to remove a gall bladder in a week. A lawyer could show you how to write a brief in a week or so. Almost every skill is teachable but the one thing that is not teachable is your attitude. A winning attitude is what people want to associate with, and it will attract others to you.

I remember several years ago after I had been practicing law for a few years, I went out on some interviews. In virtually every instance where I was less than 100% enthusiastic about practicing law, my previous job, and law firm experience in general, I did not get the job. All it took was me offering up a couple of things I did not like or that rubbed me the wrong way. By contrast, In virtually every instance where I was 100% enthusiastic about practicing law and working in a law firm, I got the job.

You see, law firms like people who they can associate with the word ‘positive.’

One of the strangest things about law firms is that if someone has been laid off from their previous position they have an extraordinarily difficult time getting hired by law firms of the same prestige level again. The reason? Because the next law firm who interviews them knows that the law firm did not lay everyone off and wonders why the law firm decided to lay this person off and not others. The implication becomes, almost immediately, that this particular person was not on the winning team. Law firms do not want to hire losers.

I have noticed throughout the years that when people have been fired from their previous job, or if they left a law firm under bad circumstances, they will almost never get hired by another law firm if they talk about this in the interview. Instead, the smart ones bat around the subject, or make it sound as if they did not do anything wrong, and they somehow make everything seem as if they are on the “winning side.” Then they end up getting the job. But a top firm will not hire a lawyer who dwells on the negative, even for an instant.

Neither would you. Smart employers simply do not want any sour grapes when they are interviewing people. Negative people will almost always bring that negativity with them and infect those around them. This is just how it works.

As someone in the working world, your attitude is crucial for your success because this is largely what employers buy. If employers buy bad attitudes then they are going to hurt their organization. If employers buy good attitudes then they are going to help their organization. The right attitude is crucial for success.

If you have a good attitude then everything will fall into place. You need to look like you are on the winning team and constantly show yourself to be a winner–even if times are tough. People do not want to hire losers or people with bad attitudes.


Adopting a positive attitude will always bring you closer to success, as nobody wants to be associated with a losing side. Everyone wants to associate with and hire winners, and avoids losers. Nothing is more important than maintaining a positive attitude, as many employers hire people based primarily on attitude; with the right attitude, everything else will fall into place. You must look like you are on the winning team, even if times are tough; nobody wants to hire a loser.

Read More About Why Your Attitude is Just as Important as the Quality of Your Work:

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