Awesome Character Building
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Awesome Character Building

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What is at your core? Do you complain about the challenges of life? Or Do you see the challenges of life as opportunities to be better, and do better? ...

What is at your core? Do you complain about the challenges of life? Or Do you see the challenges of life as opportunities to be better, and do better?

Read this FREE e-book for guidance on how to view the situations we find ourselves in.

Learn how does the way we think have anything to do with our situations.

Is thought a force that we can use for our benefit or demise?

Learn how to build momentum to be the best you can possibly be so the rest of your life can be the best of your life!

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Awesome Character Building Document Transcript

  • 1. Awesome Character BuildingUNCONSCIOUSLY we are forming habits every moment of our lives.Some are habits of a desirable nature; some are those of a mostundesirable nature. Some, though not so bad in themselves, areexceedingly bad in their cumulative effects, and cause us at timesmuch loss, much pain and anguish, while their opposites would, on thecontrary, bring as much peace and joy, as well as a continuallyincreasing power.Have we it within our power to determine at all times what types ofhabits shall take form in our lives? In other words, is habit-forming,character building, a matter of mere chance, or have we it within ourown control? We have, entirely and absolutely. "I will be what I will tobe," 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. Somethingremains to be said regarding the great law underlying habit-forming,character building; for there is a simple, natural, and thoroughlyscientific method that all should know.A method whereby old, undesirable, earth-binding habits can bebroken, and new, desirable, heaven lifting habits can be acquired, a
  • 2. method whereby life in part or in its totality can be changed,provided one is sufficiently in earnest to know and, knowing it, toapply 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 athought. Your dominating thoughts determine your dominatingactions. In the realm of our own minds we have absolute control, orwe should have, and if at any time we have not, then there is amethod by which we can gain control, and in the realm of the mindbecome thorough masters. In order to get to the very foundation ofthe matter, let us look to this for a moment. For if thought is alwaysparent to our acts, habits, character, life, then it is first necessary thatwe know fully how to control our thoughts.Here let us refer to that law of the mind which is the same as is thelaw in Connection with the reflex nerve system of the body, the lawwhich says that whenever one does a certain thing in a certain way itis easier to do the same thing in the same way the next time, and stilleasier the next, and the next, and the next, until in time it comes topass that no effort is required, or no effort worth speaking of; but onthe opposite would require the effort. The mind carries with it thepower that perpetuates its own type of thought, the same as the bodycarries with it through the reflex nerve system the power whichperpetuates and makes continually easier its own particular acts. Thusa simple effort to control ones thoughts, a simple setting about it,even if at first failure is the result, and even if for a time failure seemsto be about the only result, will in time, sooner or later, bring him tothe point of easy, full, and complete control. Each one, then, can grow the power of determining, controllinghis thought, the power of determining what types of thought he shalland what types he shall not entertain. For let us never part in mindwith this fact, that every earnest effort along any line makes the endaimed at just a little easier for each succeeding effort, even if, as hasbeen said, apparent failure is the result of the earlier efforts. This is acase where even failure is success, for the failure is not in the effort,and every earnest effort adds an increment of power that willeventually accomplish the end aimed at. We can, then, gain the full
  • 3. and complete power of determining what character, what type ofthoughts we entertain. Shall we now give attention to some two or three concretecases? 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 hasbecome suddenly rich, has made a fortune of half a million or a milliondollars in a few hours through speculation on the stock market.Perhaps he has seen an account of another man who has donepractically the same thing lately. He is not quite wise enough,however, to comprehend the fact that when he reads of one or twocases of this kind he could find, were he to look into the mattercarefully, one or two hundred cases of men who have lost all they hadin the same way. He thinks, however, that he will be one of thefortunate ones. He does not fully realize that there are no short cuts towealth honestly made. He takes a part of his savings, and as is true inpractically 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 moneyhe would be able to get back what he has lost, and perhaps make ahandsome sum in addition, and make it quickly, the
  • 4. thought comes to him to use some of the funds he has charge of. Innine cases out of ten, if not ten cases in every ten, the results thatinevitably follow this are known sufficiently well to make itunnecessary to follow him farther.Where is the mans safety in the light of what we have beenconsidering? Simply this: the moment the thought of using for his ownpurpose funds belonging to others enters his mind, if he is wise he willinstantly put the thought from his mind. If he is a fool he will entertainit. In the degree in which he entertains it, it will grow upon him; it willbecome the absorbing thought in his mind; it will finally becomemaster of his will power, and through rapidly succeeding steps,dishonor, shame, and degradation, penitentiary, remorse will be his. Itis 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 becomesmore and more difficult for him to put it from his mind; and by and byit becomes practically impossible for him to do it. The light of thematch, which but a little effort of the breath would have extinguishedat first, has imparted a flame that is raging through the entirebuilding, and now it is almost if not quite impossible to conquer it.Shall we notice another concrete case? A trite case, perhaps, but onein which we can see how habit is formed, and also how the same habitcan be unformed. Here is a young man, he may be the son of poorparents, or he may be the son of rich parents; one in the ordinaryranks of life, or one of high social standing, whatever that means. Heis good hearted, one of good impulses generally speaking, a goodfellow. He is out with some companions, companions of the samegeneral 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 getdrunk, no, not at all; but merely that they go and have something todrink together. The young man whom we first mentioned, wanting tobe genial, scarcely listens to the suggestion that comes into his innerconsciousness that it will be better for him not to fall in with the othersin this. He does not stop long enough to realize the fact that thegreatest strength and nobility of character lies always in taking a firmstand on the aide of the right, and allow himself to be influenced
  • 5. 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 repeatedhis power of saying "No" is gradually decreasing. In this way he hasgrown a little liking for intoxicants, and takes them perhaps now andthen byhimself. He does not dream, or in the slightest degree realize, whatway he is tending, until there comes a day when he awakens to theconsciousness of the fact that he hasn’t the power nor even theimpulse to resist the taste which has gradually grown into a minorform of craving for intoxicants. Thinking, however, that he will be ableto stop when he is really in danger of getting into the drink habit, hegoes thoughtlessly and carelessly on. We will pass over the variousintervening steps and come to the time when we find him a confirmeddrunkard. It is simply the same old story told a thousand or even amillion times over.He finally awakens to his true condition; and through the shame, theanguish, the degradation, and the want that comes upon him he longsfor a return of the days when he was a free man. But hope has almostgone from his life. It would have been easier for him never to havebegun, and easier for him to have stopped before he reached hispresent condition; but even in his present condition, be it the lowestand the most helpless and hopeless that can be imagined, he has thepower to get out of it and be a free man once again. Let us see. Thedesire 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 isthis: the moment, aye, the very instant the thought comes to him, ifhe will put it out of his mind he will thereby put out the little flame ofthe match.
  • 6. If he entertains the thought the little flame will communicate itselfuntil almost before he is aware of it a consuming fire is raging, andthen effort is almost useless. The thought must be banished from themind the instant it enters; dalliance with it means failure and defeat,or a fight that will be indescribably fiercer than it would be if thethought is ejected at the beginning.And here we must say a word regarding a certain great law that wemay call the "law of indirectness." A thought can be put out of themind easier and more successfully, not by dwelling upon it, not by,attempting to put it out directly, but by throwing the mind on to someother object by putting some other object of thought into the mind.This may be, for example, the ideal of full and perfect self-mastery, orit may be something of a nature entirely distinct from the thoughtwhich presents itself, something to which the mind goes easily andnaturally. 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 ofputting more readily out of mind the thought of drink as it presentsitself, and will gradually grow the power of putting into the mindthose objects of thought one most desires. The result will be that astime passes the thought of drink will present itself less and less, andwhen it does present itself it can be put out of the mind more easilyeach succeeding time, until the time comes when it can be put outwithout difficulty, and eventually the time will come when the thoughtwill enter the mind no more at all.
  • 7. Still another case: You may be more or less of an irritable naturenaturally, perhaps, provoked easily to anger. Someone sayssomething or does something that you dislike, and your firstimpulse is to show resentment and possibly to give way to anger. Inthe degree that you allow this resentment to display itself, that youallow yourself to give way to anger, in that degree will it becomeeasier to do the same thing when any cause, even a very slightcause, presents itself. It will, moreover, become continually harderfor you to refrain from it, until resentment, anger, and possibly evenhatred and revenge become characteristics of your nature, robbingit of its sunniness, its charm, and its brightness for all with whomyou 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 otherobject of thought, the power will gradually grow itself of doing thissame thing more readily, more easily, as succeeding like causespresent themselves, until by and by the time will come when there willbe scarcely anything that can irritate you, and nothing that can impelyou to anger; until by and by a matchless brightness and charm ofnature and disposition will become habitually yours, a brightness andcharm you would scarcely think possible today. And so we might takeup case after case, characteristic after characteristic, habit after habit.The habit of faultfinding and its opposite are grown in identically thesame way; the characteristic of jealousy and its opposite; thecharacteristic of fear and its opposite. In this same way we grow eitherlove or hatred; in this way we come to take a gloomy, pessimistic viewof life, which objectifies itself in a nature, a disposition of this type, orwe grow that sunny, hopeful, cheerful, buoyant nature that brings withit so much joy and beauty and power for ourselves, as well as so muchhope and inspiration and joy for all the world.There is nothing more true in connection with human life than thatwe grow into the likeness of those things we contemplate. Literally
  • 8. and scientifically and necessarily true is it that "as a man thinketh inhis heart, so is he." The "is" part is his character. His character is thesum total of his habits. His habits have been formed by· hisconscious 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 whenwe 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 soon through all time.One can in this way attain to whatever ideals he would attain to. Twosteps are necessary: first, as the days pass, to form ones ideals; andsecond, to follow them continually, whatever may arise, whereverthey may lead him. Always remember that the great and strongcharacter is the one who is ever ready to sacrifice the presentpleasure for the future good. He who will thus follow his highest idealsas they present themselves to him day after day, year after year, willfind that as Dante, following his beloved from world to world, finallyfound her at the gates of Paradise, so he will find himself eventually atthe same gates. Life is not, we may say, for mere passing pleasure,but for the highest enfoldments that one can attain to, the noblestcharacter that one can grow, and for the greatest service that one canrender to all mankind. In this, however, we will find the highestpleasure, for in this the only real pleasure lies. He, who would find itby any short cuts, or by entering upon any other paths, will inevitablyfind that his last state is always worse than his first; and if he proceedupon paths other than these he will find that he will never find realand lasting pleasure at all.The question is not, " What are the conditions in our lives?" but, "Howdo we meet the conditions that we find there?" And whatever theconditions are, it is unwise and profitless to look upon them, even ifthey are conditions that we would have otherwise, in the attitude ofcomplaint, for complaint will bring depression, and depression willweaken and possibly even kill the spirit that would engender the powerthat would enable us to bring into our lives an entirely new set ofconditions.
  • 9. In order to be concrete, even at the risk of being personal, I will saythat there have come at various times into my life circumstances andconditions that I gladly would have run from at the time—conditionsthat caused at the time humiliation and shame and anguish of spirit.But invariably, as sufficient time has passed, I – or anyone for thatmatter - have been able to look back and see clearly the part thatevery experience of the type just mentioned had to play in my life. Ihave seen the lessons it was essential for me to learn; and the resultis that now I would not drop a single one of these experiences frommy life, humiliating and hard to bear as they were at the time; no, notfor the world. And here is also a lesson I have learned: whateverconditions are in my life today that are not the easiest and mostagreeable, and whatever conditions of this type all coming time maybring, I will take them just as they come, without complaint, withoutdepression, and meet them in the wisest possible way; knowing thatthey are the best possible conditions that could be in my life at thetime, 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 Imay not see just what part they have to play, the time will come, andwhen it comes I will see it all, and thank God for every condition justas it came.Each one is so apt to think that his own conditions, his own trials ortroubles or sorrows, or his own struggles, as the case may be, aregreater than those of the great mass of mankind, or possibly greaterthan those of any one else in the world. He forgets that each one hashis own peculiar trials or troubles or sorrows to bear, or struggles inhabits to overcome, and that his is but the common lot of all thehuman race. We are apt to make the mistake in this — in that we seeand feel keenly our own trials, or adverse conditions, or characteristicsto be overcome, while those of others we do not see so clearly, andhence 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 insightthat will enable him to see what the causes are that have brought theunfavorable conditions into his life; each must grow the strength thatwill enable him to face these conditions, and to set into operationforces that will bring about a different set of conditions. We may be of
  • 10. aid to one another by way of suggestion, by way of bringing to oneanother a knowledge of certain higher laws and forces — laws andforces that will make it easier to do that which we would do. Thedoing, however, must be done by each one for himself. True it is, then, not, “What are the conditions in ones 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 Brownings poem and after studying it, thank God that the conditions in our life are so favorable; and then set about with a trusting andintrepid spirit to actualize the conditions that we most desire.Thought is at the bottom of all progress or retrogression, of all successor failure, of all that is desirable or undesirable in human life. The typeof thought we entertain both creates and draws conditions thatcrystallize about it, conditions exactly the same in nature as is thethought that gives them form. Thoughts are forces, and each createsof its kind, whether we realize it or not. The great law of the drawingpower of the mind, which says that like creates like, and that likeattracts like, is continually working in every human life, for it is one ofthe great immutable laws of the universe.For one to take time to see clearly the things he would attain to, andthen to hold that ideal steadily and continually before his mind, neverallowing faith — his positive thought-forces — to give way to or to beneutralized by doubts and fears, and then to set about doing each daywhat his hands find to do, never complaining, but spending the timethat he would otherwise spend in complaint in focusing his thought-forces upon the ideal that his mind has built, will sooner or later bringabout the full materialization of that for which he sets out. There arethose who, when they begin to grasp the fact that there is what wemay term a "science of thought," who, when they begin to realize thatthrough the instrumentality of our interior, spiritual, thought-forces we
  • 11. have the power of gradually molding the everyday conditions of life aswe would have them, in their early enthusiasm are not able to seeresults as quickly as they expect and are apt to think, therefore, thatafter all there is not very much in that which has but newly come totheir knowledge. They must remember, however, that in endeavoringto overcome an old habit or to grow a new habit, everything cannot bedone all at once.In the degree that we attempt to use the thought-forces do wecontinually become able to use them more effectively. Progress is slowat first, more rapid as we proceed. Power grows by using, or, in otherwords, using brings a continually increasing power. This is governed bylaw the same as are all things in our lives, and all things in theuniverse about us.Every act and advancement made by the musician is in full accordancewith law. No one commencing the study of music can, for example, sitdown to the piano and play the piece of a master at the first effort. Hemust not conclude, however, nor does he conclude, that the piece ofthe 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, andmore surely each succeeding time, and there also comes intooperation and to his aid the law underlying the action of the reflexnerve system of the body, which we have also noticed, whereby hisfingers co-ordinate their movements with the movements of his mindmore readily, more rapidly, and more accurately each succeedingtime; until by and by the time comes when that which he stumblesthrough at first, that in which there is no harmony, nothing butdiscord, finally reveals itself as the music of the master, the music thatthrills and moves masses of men and women. So it is in the use of thethought-forces. It is the reiteration, the constant reiteration of thethought that grows the power of continually stronger thought-focusing,and that finally brings manifestation.
  • 12. There is character building not only for the young but for the oldas well. And what a difference there is in elderly people! How manygrow old gracefully, and how many grow old in ways of quite adifferent nature. There is a sweetness and charm that combine forattractiveness in old age the same as there is something that cannotbe described by these words. Some grow continually more dear totheir friends and to the members of their immediate households, whileothers become possessed of the idea that their friends and themembers of their households have less of a regard for them than theyformerly had, and many times they are not far wrong. The onecontinually sees more in life to enjoy, the other sees continually less.The one becomes more dear and attractive to others, the other lessso. And why is this? Through chance? By no means. Personally Ido not believe there is any such thing as chance in the whole ofhuman life, nor even in the world or the great universe in which welive. The one great law of cause and effect is absolute; and effect isalways kindred to its own peculiar cause, although we may have attimes to go back considerably farther than we are accustomed to inorder 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? Theone keeps from worryings, and fearings, and frettings, andfoundationless imaginings, while the other seems especially tocultivate these, to give himself or herself especially to them. And whyis this? At a certain time in life, differing somewhat in differentpeople, life-long mental states, habits, and characteristics begin tofocus themselves and come to the surface, so to speak.Predominating thoughts and mental states begin to show themselvesin actualized qualities and characteristics as never before, and no oneis immune.
  • 13. 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 toputting into operation all necessary counter-balancing forces andinfluences. Where there is life nothing is ever irretrievably lost, thoughthe enjoyment of the higher good may be long delayed. But if onewould have an especially beautiful and attractive old age he mustbegin 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 totake unto themselves a strongly dominating power, and the thoughthabits of a lifetime begin to come to the surface.Fear and worry, selfishness, a hard-fisted, grabbing, holdingdisposition, a carping, fault- finding, nagging tendency, a slavery ofthought and action to the thinking or to the opinions of others, alacking of consideration, thought, and sympathy for others, a lack ofcharity for the thoughts, the motives, and the acts of others, a lack ofknowledge of the powerful and inevitable building qualities of thought,as well as a lack of faith in the eternal goodness and love and powerof the Source of our being, all combine in time to make the old age ofthose in whom they find life, that barren, cheerless, unwelcomesomething, 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 bringabout that cheerful, hopeful, helpful, beautified, and hallowed old agethat is so welcome and so attractive both to itself and to all withwhom it comes in contact. Both types of thoughts, qualities, anddispositions, moreover, externalize themselves in the voice, in thepeculiarly different ways in which they mark the face, in the stoop orlack of stoop in the form, as also in the healthy or unhealthyconditions of the mind and body, and their susceptibility to disordersand weaknesses of various kinds.
  • 14. All life is from within out. This is something that cannot bereiterated too often. The springs of life are all from within. This beingtrue, it would be well for us to give more time to the inner life thanwe are accustomed to give to it, especially in this Western world.There is nothing that will bring us such abundant returns as to take alittle time in the quiet each day of our lives. We need this to get thekinks out of our minds, and hence out of our lives. We need this toform better the higher ideals of life. We need this in order to seeclearly in mind the things upon which we would concentrate and focusthe thought-forces.We need this in order to make continually anew and to keep ourconscious connection with the Infinite. We need this in order that therush and hurry of our everyday life does not keep us away from theconscious realization of the fact that the spirit of Infinite life andpower that is back of all, working in and through all, the life of all, isthe life of real lack is, and although he hasnt money enough in all theworld to buy it did he know.It is well to find our center early, and if not early then late; but, late orearly, the thing to do is to find it. While we are in life the one essentialthing is to play our part bravely and well and to keep our activeinterest in all its varying phases, the same as it is well to be able toadapt ourselves always to changing conditions.
  • 15. We are all in Lifes great play— comedy and tragedy, smiles and tears,sunshine and shadow, summer and winter, and in time we take allparts. We must take our part, whatever it may be, at any given time,always bravely and with a keen appreciation of every opportunity, anda keen alertness at every turn as the play progresses. A good"entrance" and a good "exit" contribute strongly to the playing of adeservedly worthy role. We are not always able perhaps to choose justas we would the details of our entrance, but the manner of our playingand the manner of our exit we can all determine, and this no man, nopower can deny us; this in every human life can be made indeed mostglorious, however humble it may begin, or however humble it mayremain or exalted it may become, according to conventional standardsof judgment.To me we are here for divine self-realization through experience. Weprogress in the degree that we manipulate wisely all things that enterinto our lives, and that make the sum total of each ones lifeexperience. Let us be brave and strong in the presence of eachproblem as it presents itself and make the best of all. Let us help thethings we can help, and let us be not bothered or crippled by thethings we cannot help.
  • 16. In the Orient there are many who are day after day sitting in thequiet, meditating, contemplating, and idealizing, with their eyesfocused on their stomachs in spiritual revelry, while through lack ofouter activities, in their stomachs, they are actually starving.In this Western world, men and women, in the rush and activity of ouraccustomed life, are running hither and thither, with no center, nofoundation upon which to stand, nothing to which they can anchortheir lives, because they do not take sufficient time to come into therealization of what the center, of what the reality of their lives is.If the Oriental would do his contemplating, and then get up and do hiswork, he would be in a better condition; he would be living a morenormal and satisfactory life. If we in the Occident would take moretime from the rush and activity of life for contemplation, formeditation, for idealization, for becoming acquainted with our realselves, and then go about our work manifesting the powers of our realselves, we would be far better off, because we would be living a morenatural, a more normal life.To find ones center, to become centered in the Infinite, is the firstgreat essential of every satisfactory life; and then to go out, thinking,speaking, working, loving, living, from this center.In the highest character building, such as we have been considering,there are those who feel they are handicapped by what we termheredity. In a sense they are right; in another sense they are totallywrong. It is along the same lines as the thought which many beforeus had inculcated in them through the couplet in the New EnglandPrimer: "In Adams fall, we sinned all." Now, in the first place, it israther hard to understand the justice of this if it is true. In thesecond place, it is rather hard to understand why it is true. And inthe third place there is no truth in it at all. We are now dealingwith the real essential self, and, however old Adam is, God iseternal.
  • 17. 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 isbuilding for eternity because when the transition we call death takes place,life, character, self-mastery, divine self-realization — the only things thatthe soul when stripped of everything else takes with it — he has inabundance, in life, or when the time of the transition to another form of lifecomes, he is never afraid, never fearful, because he knows and realizes thatbehind him, within him, beyond him, is the Infinite wisdom and love; and inthis he is eternally centered, 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