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.
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.
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.
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.
Real joy seems dissonant from the human character in its present condition; and if it be felt, it must come from a higher region, for the world is shadowed by sorrow; thorns array the ground; the very clouds, while they weep fertility on our mountains, seem also to shed a tear on man’s grave who departs, unlike the beauties of summer, to return no more; who fades unlike the sons of the forest, which another summer beholds new clothed, when he is unclothed and forgotten.
Do every act of your life as if it were your last.
There are many seasons in a man’s life - and the more exalted and responsible his position, the more frequently do these seasons recur - when the voice of duty and the dictates of feeling are opposed to each other; and it is only the weak and the wicked who yield that obedience to the selfish impulses of the heart which is due to reason and honor.