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The Elements of Success

"In God's world, for those who are in earnest there is no failure."
—F. W. Robertson

Law and order prevail throughout the universe. Whatever may appear to man to be otherwise is only the lack on his part to perceive the full working of any given thing — a partial or incomplete knowledge that causes him to think that there are only luck and chance, which, in reality, play no part either in the universe or in the life of man. Law more unalterable than that of the Medes and Persians is everywhere working, bringing first one thing to pass, and then another, so that we have an orderly sequence of events. Even in that which to the mind of man seems chaotic is the perfect action of the law, and out of chaos comes perfect order. If, then, the individual has this knowledge of law and order, to begin with, and puts from his mind all thought of chance or luck in life, thus starting right by taking as his foundation the action of perfect law and order in his life, he will then have the groundwork of that which will ultimately make for success; because success in life cannot come to anyone contrary to law. That which seems to be success is not always to be construed in that light.

One may become successful in life without a thoroughly intellectual knowledge of the laws of life by being intuitively led into conformity to law. Nevertheless, the one who has an intellectual understanding of law, as well as an intuitive perception, is better equipped for a successful life. He then has reason for his inner faith. He knows intellectually that discordant, inharmonious results come from a violation of law, and is led to ask himself the question as to how he has violated it. Getting at the causes, he is able to adjust himself in a way entirely satisfactory to his own mind. This process of readjustment is one of the most essential. Excessive friction and inharmony show a lack of adjustment to environment and that a thorough readjustment is necessary. And so, the great process of life is to adjust one's life in accord with law, and when changes and new developments come, to bring about a readjustment so that through the perfect balance of life will come the real joy of living. Because, success that does not bring with it a joy in life and a joy in doing, cannot be considered real success — at least it is only partial. The really successful man is the one who delights in his work and who gets a thorough satisfaction from the many other things in the world about him. Some people think it unwise to take any satisfaction in the things of the world. They look on asceticism as being essential to the highest development. But the rounded out, developed person is the one who can mingle with and view all sides of life, paying attention to the things of the outer world, and at the same time not neglectful of the requirements of the inner.

Nature's lavish gifts to man show that he was not intended to be an ascetic; that it was, in reality, intended that he should have the good things of life and the people who fail to enjoy them here and now, deferring them to some future time, are not following the highest conception of life. While all material things should be subordinate to spiritual, yet all material things are the expression of a power which lies back of them, and they are useful — yes, more — they are necessary to the complete life of man.

We should understand the relation of the outer to the inner world. We should not live in the one to the exclusion of the other. There is neither reason nor sense in ignoring the outer.

Now, then, the one who would be successful is going to profit by understanding the true relation between the inner and outer worlds. He is going to see that all outer things exist because of inner causes. He is going to see that his own product, be it what it may in the world, is an expression of his own mind and thought, and in order to have that expression perfect and harmonious without, his own mind and thought that generate it must, first of all, be harmonious. By doing away with friction in the inner he avoids friction in the outer. Thus he knowingly works from cause to effect. So, the real elements of success are not so much in one's environment as in one's own mind. A man must look to his own mind, then, for the real cause of success in life, and not to chance, or luck, or environment, or any external thing but to the innate qualities in the life of man.

Let us now consider some of the qualifications necessary for a successful life. First, there must be integrity of thought. This will find expression in just deeds. Integrity of thought is that quality in the life of man which seeks to know and understand things as they are, putting aside prejudice or bigotry, so that the vision is not dimmed, so that the mind can see clearly, and so, through clear vision, can act rightly. Integrity of thought and purpose causes man to adjust himself to his environment, and establishes true relations between himself and his fellow-man.

Faith is also a necessary qualification. Whatever one undertakes in life, in order to be successful in it, he must have faith — faith in his own God-given powers, faith in the thing he is about to do, faith in the people he works with. If a man has no faith in an undertaking, how is it possible to inspire faith in the minds of others? Such an undertaking must eventually fail. Faith is one of the wonder-working processes in the life of man. It is continually bringing about that which seems miraculous, and without it, a man is handicapped from the beginning.
Courage is another element in success. Sometimes everything looks dark. You have faith in the thing you want to accomplish you have faith in the people about you yet, outer circumstances seem to conspire against you. This is the time for courage, this is the time to reinforce courage with hope. It is well, then, to remember that the great things in life do not come to us without effort that it is only as we use energy, as we persevere, as we keep working day after day, that we accomplish that which we ardently desire. So, in the darkest hour, courage, hope, and perseverance are the qualities which will bring to us ultimate success.

Let these qualities be rightly directed, let us see the things we desire to do or be, let the mind vision be clear, never deceiving ourselves through false hopes, but seeing as nearly as possible all sides of the question, so that we may understand the difficulties that lie in our way and know best how to overcome them.

Many people with the very best of intentions make the mistake of seeing things as they would have them to be, taking no account of the difficulties or obstacles which lie in the way, and when confronted by them lose hope and courage and are turned back. The result of this is that they lose faith in themselves, and other people lose faith in them, so that it only makes the second undertaking harder because of failure in the first.

When one puts his hand to the plow he should feel, first of all, that it is the right thing to do and he should courageously face any and every obstacle. Having brought the undertaking to a successful termination, it will be easier for him to succeed in his next.

Again, in the pathway to success one can never expect to succeed through the failure of someone else. The world may think differently, but the world is not right. The man who makes the greatest success is the one who is thoroughly mindful of other people's interests, realizing that his own good is inseparably bound with the good coming to others with whom he may be associated. The one who takes a purely selfish interest, considering his own good regardless of the good of others, gets a very partial or one-sided view of the matter. He is deceiving himself, and through his error many of the qualities that would make for real success in his life become dormant and unused. How can a man have faith in himself and a faith in his fellow-man if his interests are centered wholly in himself?

Selfishness is that false quality in man which breeds suspicion of other men, and the suspicion in the mind of the selfish man will call out suspicion in the minds of others toward him, thereby making it the less possible for him to become really successful. The truly upright man can never be selfish. He may desire his own good he may desire an abundance of this world's goods, but he will not desire them at the expense of others. He will be considerate and fair in all his dealings. He will realize that justice and honor are true basic principles for a successful life, and this sense of justice and honor in him will appeal to the minds of those he is associated with, and will be recognized, doing away with suspicion or anything that could act to the man's detriment.

No individual stands alone. He is an integral part of society, and the real law never works for the benefit of any one individual to the exclusion of all others. The law works to bring about the larger good to humanity; so, the individual, in turn, enters into the larger life because of the good that has come to the many.

The man, then, who has made the greatest success in life is the one who has been the greatest benefactor to the race — is the one who receives the love of the many. Now, in order to receive the love of the many, it is only as he has given of himself to the many that the many in turn give to him. A man may have an abundance of this world's goods, but without the love and respect of his fellow-man his life is a barren one. It can in no way be considered a success. The real riches of life are not made up of material accumulation, but consist in the development of all the qualities necessary to the well-being of man, and these are the things that in turn bring him into touch with his fellow-man, so that he is able in a sympathetic way to enter into the lives of many, understanding their needs and knowing how he can best be useful to them. The man who has succeeded in doing this is the truly successful man, is the man who will never know want — want of love, friendship, or respect, or want of any material thing; because he has sought and found God's Kingdom. Having come into the inner kingdom and being also in true relation to the outer kingdom, he has not only an abundance within, but that inner abundance finds true outer expression. True it is he is not weighted down by vast accumulations bringing with them untold responsibilities — for it is well to remember right here that vast material wealth brings with it tremendous responsibilities, responsibilities that are not always recognized, but which, nevertheless, exist, and only as they are fulfilled does it become possible for the rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Kingdom of Heaven is a state of peace and harmony — peace and harmony in our own mind, and peace and harmony with the rest of mankind; and if one is not living up to the requirements of life but shirking its responsibilities, there can be no such peace and harmony.
Individual success, then, must never be considered apart from its effect upon society. If the effect of any given course of action by the individual proves beneficial to society, then there must be a corresponding benefit or success to the individual. So, the wise course for the individual to follow in each and all of his undertakings is to ask himself two questions: First, the larger question, What is going to be the effect upon the lives of the people with whom I am associated? Second, what is going to be the effect on my own life? When he has decided that the effect is going to be good upon others, the second is easy to answer. That which is going to prove good to the many, must of necessity be good for the individual.

Next comes the question of work. When we desire a thing greatly we should be willing to work for the accomplishment of the desire. The working for it should be a pleasure and should not be considered as a burden or even as a duty, but as a blessed privilege. What greater privilege can one have than to see the manifestation of his own ideals, to see the things that he has wrought out in his own mind taking an expression in the world about him? There is nothing degrading nor mean about labor, so long as that labor is unselfish, so long as that labor is going to be a benefit to the world. It makes no difference whether a man tills the ground, or builds houses, or engages in mercantile life, whether a man is an artist or a day-laborer, his work is honorable if he gives it his honest thought and does not try to avoid the responsibilities coming to him. No matter what position a man may occupy in life he is of use in that station and should occupy it until he can fill a better one, and he can never fill a better one until he has made himself, in a sense, proficient in that one. He can make himself most proficient by doing his work in the best possible way, each day trying to do it better than the day before, gaining a little here and a little there. Through following this course he makes himself a necessity to his fellow-man. No matter what one does he can do it best by entering into the spirit of the thing, by looking at the calling, whatever it may be, as one that is honorable and upright, and by doing the work cheerfully and well. The more cheerfulness and concentration we put into the things we do, the easier we will find them to do and the greater satisfaction we will get and also give to others.

To sum up, the elements of success might be enumerated as follows: A study of the inner law of life, and a study of the expression of that law in the outer world. The results flowing from such knowledge would be integrity, honor, clear insight, courage, perseverance, concentration of mind, and, over and above all, the great soul qualities that cannot be pictured by mind nor expressed by words, but which all may feel and all may give expression to if they will to do so for they are latent as living force and power in the lives of all men — faith, hope, love. Faith in God, faith in the power given us which comes from God, faith in our fellow-men, faith, in fact, that everything is working together for our good, and the good of all. Hope that will fill the mind with brightness, that will cause us to turn away from the gloom and despondent things of life, that will bring gladness to our hearts so that our very faces will radiate with the truest joy. Thus, our hope and faith may find abiding places in the minds of many. Love that perceives God in our very soul, and, knowing of God in the inmost, comes in vital touch with God in the lives of others. Love so wise and all-embracing that kindness will flow to every living and moving thing; love that will tend to bring God's Kingdom here and now so that His Will may be done on earth even as it is done in heaven.
The individual who realizes the truth contained in these things will be the one who is the most eminently successful in life, whose life will become one unending joy.

"He who knows that power is inborn, that he is weak because he has looked for good out of him and elsewhere, and so perceiving, throws himself unhesitatingly on his thought, instantly rights himself, stands in the erect position, commands his limbs, works miracles; just as a man who stands on his feet is stronger than a man who stands on his head."

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Charles Brodie Patterson

  • Canadian New Thought author
  • Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917

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