What do you believe to be the object of your life?
To be happy and successful, perhaps you are thinking, even if you do not answer in those words.
That is the idea of the many. Meanwhile others, who have been educated in the melancholy faith of their ancestors, believe the object of this life is to be miserable, poor, and full of sorrow, that they may wear a crown of glory hereafter.
But the clear thinker and careful observer must realize that there is one and only one main object in life—the building of character.
He who sets out in early youth with that ambition and purpose, and keeps to it, will not only attain his object, but he will, too, attain happiness and true success—for there is no such thing as failure for the man or woman of character.
We often apply the two words character and success, unworthily.
We speak of a man of "much character" when he is merely self-assertive and stubborn, and we call a man successful, who has accumulated a fortune, or achieved fame and a position, by doubtful methods.
Then what is character, and what is success?
Character is the result of the cultivation of the highest and noblest qualities in human nature, and putting those qualities to practical use.
Success is the conquest of the lower and baser self, and the ability to be useful to one's fellow men.
There are men of brain, wealth and position who are failures, and there are men of limited abilities and in humble places who are yet successful, inasmuch as they make the utmost of themselves, and their opportunities.
It makes no difference how lowly your sphere in life may be, and no matter how limited your environment, you can build your character if you will. You need no outlay of money, no assistance from those in power, no influence.
Character Building must be done alone, and by yourself. The ground must be cleansed of debris, and the structure must be erected stone by stone.
It is dull, slow, hard work, especially the preparation.
All preparation is drudgery.
When this little whirling globe of ours began to cool in space think what a task lay before it! Think of the mass of chaos, which had to slowly shape itself into mighty, green, glad and snow-capped mountains,
fertile vales, and noble forests.
Each one of us is a little world, whirling alone on an individual orbit, but the divine power is within us, to grow into symmetry, beauty, and perfection if we only realize it.
And the happiness of the work, once we begin it, is beyond the power of description.
There is no other satisfaction can compare with that of looking back across the years and finding that you have grown in self-control, in charity of judgment, in a sense of justice, in generosity, and in unselfishness.
If you are conscious of this growth, let no lack of material success for one moment disturb you. That will come, enough for your need, in time.
The man of symmetrically developed character is never a pauper.
He is never dependent for more than a temporary period.
To possess character is to be useful, and to be useful is to be independent, and to be useful and independent, is to be happy, even in the midst of sorrow; for sorrow is not necessarily unhappiness.
The man who has made the development of a noble and harmonious character the business of his life, accepts his sorrows as means of greater growth, and finds in them an exaltation of spirit which is closely allied to happiness.
To such a nature, absolute wretchedness would only be possible through the loss of self-respect; the lowering of an ideal or the failure of a principle.
Would you be happy and successful? Then set yourself to build character.
Seek to be worthy of your own highest commendation.
More Articles by This Author Ella Wheeler Wilcox
- Author and poet
- Born November 5th, 1850 in Johnstown, Wisconsin and died October 30th, 1919
- Famous line in poetry: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone."