In the end, we are all the sum total of our actions. Character cannot be counterfeited, nor can it be put on and cast off as if it were a garment to meet the whim of the moment. Like the markings on wood which are ingrained in the very heart of the tree, character requires time and nurture for growth and development. Thus also, day by day, we write our own destiny; for inexorably we become what we do. This I believe, is the supreme logic and the law of life.
A treaty, in the minds of our people, is an eternal word. Events often make it seem expedient to depart from the pledged word, but we are conscious that the first departure creates a logic for the second departure, until there is nothing left of the word.
If you had been looking for happiness in people and events, you discovered that it is not there. If you look to outer circumstances for your satisfaction cues, you will stay on an emotion seesaw... True joy is actually part of your nature... Events merely give us an excuse to feel it.
Custom is the great guide of human life. It is that principle alone which renders our experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for the future, a similar train of events with those which have appeared I the past. Without the influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately present to the memory and senses. We should never know how to adjust means to ends, or to employ our natural powers in the production of any effect. There would be an end at once of all action, as well as of the chief part of speculation.
It is universally acknowledged that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the same, in its principles and operations. The same motives always produce the same actions: the same events follow the same causes. Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit: these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society, have been from the beginning of the world, and still are, the source of all the actions and enterprises, which have ever been observed among mankind.
Ambition | Avarice | Beginning | Character | Events | Generosity | Human nature | Love | Mankind | Men | Motives | Nations | Nature | Principles | Public | Self | Self-love | Society | Spirit | Uniformity | World |
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Fear is like fire: If controlled it will help you; if uncontrolled, it will rise up and destroy you. Men's actions depend a great deal upon fear. We do things either because we enjoy doing them or because we are afraid not to do them. This sort of fear has not relation to physical or moral courage. It is inspired by the knowledge that we are not adequately prepared to face the future and the events it may bring - poverty perhaps, or injury, or death.
He who recognizes no higher logic than that of the shilling may become a very rich man, and yet remain a very poor creature, for riches are no proof of moral worth, and their glitter often serves only to draw attention to the worthlessness of their possessor, as the glowworm's light reveals the grub.
The humorous man recognizes that absolute purity, absolute justice, absolute logic and perfection are beyond human achievement and that men have been able to live happily for thousands of years in a state of genial frailty.
He that has a "spirit of detail" will do better in life than many who figured beyond him in the university. Such an one is minute and particular. He adjusts trifles; and these trifles compose most of the business and happiness of life. Great events happen seldom, and affect few; trifles happen every moment to everybody; and though one occurrence of them adds little to the happiness or misery of life, yet the sum total of their continual repetition is of the highest consequence.