From the very beginning of a person’s life one learns that the purpose of life is not uninterrupted pleasure. Every infant suffers pains and illnesses. We should not perceive illness and pain as negative. Suffering teaches us humility. We learn that we do not have complete power over ourselves.
The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing every day as the last, and in being neither violently excited nor torpid nor playing the hypocrite.
Let us cherish sympathy. By attention and exercise it may be improved in every man. It prepares the mind for receiving the impressions of virtue; and without it there can be no true politeness. Nothing is more odious than that insensibility which wraps a man up in himself and his own concerns, and prevents his being moved with either the joys or the sorrows of another.
Upon every hand we meet with those who have some secret resentment that is ever being nurtured within their hearts. They resent the success, or happiness of some one whom they think is less deserving than they are. They resent the just recognition that comes to others from work and long effort to excel. Or, they may resent being born poor - or resent the fact that they were even born!... Strive to excel, strive to achieve, where others have failed, and you will find no space within your mind to lodge resentment. Resentment is the child of selfishness, foolish envy, and inactivity... Our life upon this earth is too valuable for resentment of any kind. There is so much to do, so much to learn - so little time in which to live and work it all out.
To live each day as though one's last, never flustered, never apathetic, never attitudinizing - here is the perfection of character.
I cannot teach you the ten principles of service. But a little child and a thief can show you what they are. From the child you can learn three things: He is merry for no particular reason; never for a moment is he idle; when he needs something, he demands it vigorously. The thief can instruct you in seven things: He does his service by night; if he does not finish what he has set out to do, in one night, he devotes the next night to it; he and those who work with him love one another; he risks his life for small gains; what he takes has so little value for him that he gives it up for a very small coin; he endures blows and hardship, and it matters nothing to him; he likes his trade and would not exchange it for any other.
It is indifference which is the cause of most of our unhappiness. Indifference to religion, to the happiness of others, and to the precious gift of freedom, and the wide liberty that is the inheritance of all in a free land. Are we our "Brother's Keeper"? We certainly are! If we had no regard for others' feelings or fortune, we would grow cold and indifferent to life itself. Bound up with selfishness, we could not hope for the success that could easily be ours.
The most feared event in a person’s life is death. But we have the ability to transform our death into the greatest act we will perform in our entire life. We can perceive death as our total submission to the will of the Almighty and find tremendous spiritual elevation.
Idleness is the hot-bed of temptation, the cradle of disease, the waster of time, the canker-worm of felicity. To him that has no employment, life in a little while will have no novelty; and when novelty is laid in the grave, the funeral of comfort will soon follow.
Whoever sets out to persuade men to accept a new idea, or one which seems to be new, not just as an idea, but as a truth that is felt, should know beforehand that the human mind is not a blank sheet, on which one an write with ease, and should not therefore grieve or despair when he finds that people do not pay attention to him.
The first real mental illumination I remember to have experienced was when I saw that the universe exists in each of its individual atoms - that is, the universe is the result of a few simple processes infinitely repeated. When a drop of water has been mathematically measured, every principle will have been used which would be called form in the measurement of the heavens. All life on the globe is sustained by digestion and assimilation; when by voluntary and traumatic action these stop death follows. The history of an individual mind is the history of the race. Know one thing in its properties and relations and you will know all things.