Strive to Cultivate the Habit of Good Will

Orison Swett Marden May 1 1908

Strive to Cultivate the Habit of Good Will

Orison Swett Marden May 1 1908

Strive to Cultivate the Habit of Good Will

How Little we Realize When we Hurl Thunderbolts of Hate Toward Another That These Terrible Thought Shafts Always Come back and Wound the Sender — A Kindly Feeling is One of the Very Best Assets of Life.

By Orison Swett Marden, in Success Magazine.

THE habit of holding the good will, kindly attitude of mind toward everybody has a powerful influence upon the character. It lifts the mind above petty jealousies and meannesses; it enriches and enlarges the whole life. Wherever we meet people, no matter if they are strangers, we feel a certain kinship with and friendliness for them, greater interest in them if we have formed the good will habit. We feel that if we only had the opportunity of knowing them, we should like them.

In other words, the kindly habit, the good will habit makes us feel more sympathy for everybody. And if we radiate this helpful, friendly feeling, others will reflect it back to us.

On the other hand, if we go through life with a cold, selfish mental attitude, caring only for our own, always looking for the main chance, only thinking of what will further our own interests, our own comforts, totally indifferent to others, this attitude will, after a while, harden the feelings and marbleize the affections, and we shall become dry, pessimistic, and uninteresting.

Try this year to hold the kindly, good will attitude toward everybody. If your nature is hard you will be surprised to see how it will soften under the new influence. You will become more sympathetic, more charitable toward others’ weaknesses and failings, and you will grow more magnanimous and wholesouled. The good will atti-

tude will make us more lovable, interesting, and helpful. Others will look upon us in the same way in which we regard them. The cold, crabbed, unsocial, selfish person finds the same qualities reflected from others.

How much better it is to go through life with a warm heart, with kindly feelings toward everybody, radiating good will and good cheer wherever we go! Life is short at most, and what a satisfaction it is to feel that we have scattered flowers instead of thorns, that we have tried to be helpful and kind instead of selfish and churlish.

The trouble with many of us is that we think too meanly of ourselves. Our sordid aims, and material, selfish ambitions, have so lowered our standards that we think downwards instead of upwards, we grovel instead of soaring.

Our lives are materialistic, selfish, greedy, because we live in the base of our brains, down among the brute faculties. We have never explored to any great extent the upper regions of our brain, never developed our higher intelligence.

Many people cannot understand why an all-powerful Creator did not start the world with a highly developed civilization—why we could not just as well have been provided with all of the facilities and improvements which wo now have, without the struggling with poverty, and the straining to overcome our ignorance, without paying all the penalties of our lack of knowledge. They cannot understand why an all-loving and all-powerful Creator could not have spared us all this dreary drudgery, saved us the necessity of spending the most of our lives in doing disagreeable work, in preparing to live. The world builds its monuments to the unselfish, the helpful, and if these monuments are not in marble or bronze, they are in the hearts of those whom their inspirers have cheered, encouraged, and helped. Nothing has power to attract things unlike itself. Like attracts like. Everything radiates its own quality, and attracts things which are akin. If a man wants to be wealthy and happy, he must think the happy thought; he must hold the abundance thought and not limit himself. He who has a mortal dread and fear of poverty generally gets it.

But getting a living was intended to be a mere incident, instead of the principal occupation of our lives. There are numberless indications in our make-up that we were intended for a much finer, diviner, purpose thpn the most of us appreciate. There is every indication in our constitution that we were intended for something infinitely superior to anything which human beings have yet attained.

Our very possession of the sense of nobility, our aspiring, reaching up instinct, our unlimited capacity for everything beautiful and grand, are indications that there was a superb purpose, a divine plan in the Creator’s human design.

We all know people whose particular occupation seems to be to squeeze the sour out of everything. They never see anything sweet. Everything is bitter to them.

They cannot enjoy a friend because of his faults. His mistakes and weaknesses loom up so large that they cannot appreciate the good in him. They cannot see the man God intended, perfect and immortal; they see only the deformed, diseased, crippled, handicapped man who, in their opinion, will never come to any good.

Nor do they see the world that God made. The beauty that looks out of the landscape, from the trees that rustle in the wind, that is wrapped in the flower, is lost to them. They only see the floods, the fire, the earthquakes, the lightnings, the wrecks which destroy. They are blind to beauty. It is all covered up in the ugly, the forbidding. They do not hear the infinite harmonies that entrance the ear that is in tune with the infinite. This is all lost to them in the discord of their thoughts.

These people are habitual fretters, borrowers of trouble. They have never learned to enjoy God’s medicine—mirth and joy. To them, the joy of the dance is lost in the possible sin. They have never learned the joy of living, the exulting pleasure that comes from the unspeakable privilege of being. They take life too seriously. They never learn the secret of the laughter cure, or the tonic of joy.

These people seem to have a genius for anticipating evil. The weather looks bad, the season is too wet or too dry, and the crops are likely to be poor. It is going to be a bad year for business; money will be hard or tight. They can always see a storm coming on the horizon. Their imaginations are wonderfully prolific in all sorts of gloomy predictions.

People who are always seeing disaster in the future, who are afraid that their families or their friends are going to be killed in railroad wrecks, or burned up, or wrecked in steamships, who predict hard times and poor crops and poverty, never amount to much, because their pessimism strangles their possibilities. The mind becomes a magnet and attracts the realities of the very thoughts and sentiments that prevail there and dominate it.

These people do not realize what a great part hope plays in success and happiness. They do not understand that people who always see good things coming, who believe the best of everybody, who believe that there are great and good things in store for them, who think abundance and good times, are likely to realize what they expect, for they put themselves in a success and happiness attitude. Their minds look in the right direction, and thus they attract the things which they long for.

All of us, no matter how poor we may be, whether we have succeeded or failed in our vocations, can be great successes in helpfulness, in radiating good will, good cheer, and encouragement.

Everybody can be a success in the good will business, and it is infinitely better to fail in our vocation and to succeed in this, than to accumulate great wealth and be a failure in helpfulness, in a kindly, sympathetic attitude toward others.

The habit of wishing everybody well, of feeling like giving everybody a Godspeed, ennobles and beautifies the character wonderfully, magnifies our ability, and multiplies our mental power.

We were planned on lines of nobility; we were intended to be something grand; not mean and stingy, but large and generous; we were made in God’s image that we might be God-like.

Selfishness and greed dwarf our natures and make us mere apologies of the men and women God intended us to be. The way to get back to our own, to regain our lost birthright, is to form a habit of holding the kindly, helpful, sympathetic, good will attitude toward everybody.

How little we realize when we hurl thunderbolts of hatred toward another that these terrible thought shafts always come back and wound the sender, that all the hateful, revengeful, bitter thoughts intended for another are great javelins hurled at ourselves !

How many people go through life lacerated and bleeding from these thrusts which were intended for others !

Think of what people who refuse to speak to another, because of some fancied grievance or wrong, are really doing to themselves ! How this venom intended for another poisons their own minds and cripples their efficiency!

A kindly feeling, a feeling of good

will toward another, is our best protection against bitter hatred or injurious thoughts of any kind. Nothing can penetrate the love shield, the good will shield. We are unharmed behind that.

It does not matter what feelings of revenge and jealousy a person may have toward us, if we hold the love thought, the charitable thought, towards him his javelins of hate will glance from us, fly back and wound only himself.

How easily, beautifully, and sweetly some people go through life, with very little to jar them or to disturb their equanimity. They have no discord in their lives because their natures are harmonious. They seem to love everybody, and everybody loves them. They have no enemies, hence little suffering or trouble.

Others, with ugly, crabbed, crossgrained dispositions, are always in hot water. They are always misunderstood. People are constantly hurting them. They generate discord because they are discordant themselves.

The human race is still in its infancy. Up to the present moment, with a few grand exceptions, man has lived mostly an animal existence. The brute is only partially educated out of him. He has not yet evolved that superb character, that diviner man, foreshadowed in the beast.

How few people ever get anything more than a mere glimpse of the true glory of life ! Few of us see any real sentiment in life or anything above the real animal existence and animal pleasures. Most of us look upon our occupation as a disagreeable necessity that somehow or other ought to have been, and might have been avoided.

The young man who starts out with a determination to make himself comfortable, to surround himself with abundance, who builds his foundation as though he expected a large, generous superstructure, is much more likely to succeed than the man who does not prepare for much, who does not believe there is anything great in store for him.

Stop thinking trouble if you want to attract its opposite. Stop thinking poverty if you want to attract wealth. Do not have anything to do with the things you have been tearing. They are fatal enemies of your advancement. Cut them off. Expel them from your mind. Think the opposite thoughts just as persistently as you can, and you will be surprised to see how soon you will become a magnet to attract the very things you long for.

It is astonishing how a poor boy with no chance, even in the midst of an iron environment, begins to attract success to himself by constantly and persistently holding to his ambition, dreaming of the future he longs for, thinking of it, struggling toward it. He increases his power of attraction more and more by the longing and the struggling and working toward the desired goal, even when he cannot see the light.

A fatal penalty awaits those who always look on the dark side of everything, who are always predicting evil and failure, who see only the seamy, disagreeable side of life; they draw upon themselves what they see, what they look for.

The plants of prosperity and happiness will not thrive in such an atmosphere. They will never bear fruit when blighted and chilled by the winds of pessimism. The conditions must be congenial, or there will be no flowering or fruitage.