8 September 2015      

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A Foolproof Formula for Success
Arthur Gordon

Creators of Our Own Good Fortunes
Ralph Waldo Trine

Your New Chapters
tom walsh

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Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our successes or failure.

Norman Vincent Peale

Remember always that you have not only
the right to be an individual,
you have an obligation to be one.

Eleanor Roosevelt

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross


A Foolproof Formula for Success
Arthur Gordon

When I was asked to give the commencement address at a nearby college, a friend said to me, "It's easy.  All you have to do is give 'em a foolproof formula for success!"

It was said jokingly, but the remark stuck in my mind.  And the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that there is a foolproof formula for success, available to anyone wise enough to recognize it and put it to work.

In American industry the competition for promising personnel is terrific.  Year after year businesspeople study college records, screen applicants, and offer special inducements to proven people.  What are they after, really? brains? energy? know-how?  These things are desirable, sure.  But they will carry a person only so far.  If one is to move to the top and be entrusted with command decisions, there must be a plus factor, something that takes mere ability and doubles or trebles its effectiveness.  To describe this magic characteristic there's only one word:  integrity.

Basically, the word means wholeness.  In mathematics, an integer is a number that isn't divided into fractions.  Just so, a person of integrity isn't divided against him or herself.  They don't think one thing and say another--so it's virtually impossible for the person to lie.  They don't believe in one thing and do another--so one is not in conflict with one's own principles.  It's the absence of inner warfare, I'm convinced, that gives a person the extra energy and clarity of thought that make achievement inevitable.

Integrity really means having a certain built-in set of attitudes.  Let me give you examples.

Integrity means living up to the best in yourself.  Years ago, a writer who had lost a fortune in bad investments went into bankruptcy.  His intention was to pay off every cent he owed, and three years later he was still working at it. To help him, a newspaper organized a fund.  Important people contributed heavily to it.  It was a temptation--accepting would have meant the end of a wearing burden.  But Mark Twain refused, and returned the money to the contributors.  Seven months later, with his new book a hit, he paid the last of his debts in full.

Integrity means having a highly developed sense of honor.  Not just honesty, mind you, honor.  The great Frank Lloyd Wright once spoke of this to the American Institute of Architects.  "What," he asked, "might this sense of honor be?  Well, what is the honor of a brick; what would be an honorable brick?  A brick brick, wouldn't it?  What would be the honor of a board?  It would be a good board, wouldn't it?  What is the honor of a person?  To be a true individual."  And that's exactly what Frank Lloyd Wright was:  an individual true to his own standards and hence to himself.

Integrity means having a conscience and listening to it.  "It is neither safe nor prudent," said Martin Luther, facing his enemies in the city where his death had been decreed, "to do aught against conscience.  Here I stand; God help me, I cannot do otherwise."

Integrity means having the courage of your convictions.  This includes the capacity to cling to what you think is right, to go it alone when necessary, and to speak out against what you know is wrong.  In the operating room of a great hospital a young nurse had her first day of full responsibility.  "You've removed eleven sponges, doctor," she said to the surgeon.  "We used twelve."
  "I've removed them all," the doctor declared.  "We'll close the incision now."
  "No," the nurse objected.  "We used twelve."
  "I'll take the responsibility," the surgeon said grimly.  "Suture!"
  "You can't do that!" blazed the nurse.  "Think of the paitent."
  The doctor smiled, lifted his foot, showed the nurse the twelfth sponge.  "You'll do," he said.  He had been testing her for integrity--and she had it.

Integrity means obedience to the unenforceable.  In a way, this is the heart of it.  No one can force you to live up to the best in yourself.  No one can compel you to get involved.  No one can make you obey your conscience.  A person of integrity does these things anyway.

During World War II, when our armies were slashing across France, an American colonel and his jeep driver took a wrong turn and ran into an oncoming German armored column.  Both men jumped out and took cover, the sergeant in some roadside bushes, the colonel in a culvert under the road.  The Germans spotted the sergeant and advanced on him, firing.  The colonel could easily have remained undetected.  He chose, instead, to come out fighting--one pistol against tanks and machine guns.  He was killed.  The sergeant, taken prisoner, told the story later.  Why did the colonel do it?  Because his concept of duty, though unenforceable, was stronger than his regard for his own safety.

Difficult?  Yes.  That is why true integrity is rare, and admired.  But in terms of ultimate reward it's worth all the effort.  Just consider a few of the dividends that integrity pays:

Boldness.  Integrity gives a person the strength to take chances, welcome challenge, reject the unsatisfactory-but-safe for the unknown-with-chance-for- improvement.  A person of integrity has confidence and can believe in him- or herself--because that person has no reason to distrust him- or herself.
Persistence.  Integrity often shows up as an unshakable single-mindedness of purpose, a tenacity that refuses to give up.  "Never give in!" said Winston Churchill.  "Never, never, never, never.  In nothing great or small, large or petty--never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."  And he never did.
Serenity.  People of integrity, I've noticed, are shock-resistant.  They seem to have a kind of built-in equanimity that enables them to accept setbacks, or even injustices.  Harry Emerson Fosdick tells how Abraham Lincoln was warned by his friends not to make a certain speech while campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 1858.  Lincoln replied, "If it is decreed that I should go down because of this speech, then let me go down linked to the truth."  He was serene.  He did go down, but two years later he became president.

There are many other benefits that integrity brings a person:  friendship, trust, admiration, respect.  One of the hopeful things about the human race is that people seem to recognize integrity almost instinctively--and are irresistibly attracted to it.

How does one acquire it?  I'm sure there's no pat answer.  I think perhaps the first step is schooling yourself to practice total honesty in little things:  not telling the small lie when it's inconvenient to tell the truth; not repeating that juicy bit of gossip that is quite possibly untrue; not charging that personal phone call to the office.

Such discipline may sound small, but when you really seek integrity and begin to find it, it develops its own power that sweeps you along.  Finally you begin to see that almost anything worth having has an integrity of its own that must not be violated.

A foolproof formula for success?  Yes.  It's foolproof because--regardless of fame, money, power, or any of the conventional yardsticks--if you seek and find integrity, you are a success.



A book to help people stay in love with life by Arthur Gordon. This collection of Gordon's short stories will bring back the gift of joy, wonder, and hope to all who read it. From life's littlest, often over-looked moments to the important days we all hope to enjoy, Gordon finds a way to express such warmth and comfort that zeros in on the heart. This book has been around for 40 years but now is available on line for a new generation of readers.


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Creators of Our Own Good Fortunes
Ralph Waldo Trine

15.  To take and to live always in the attitude of mind that compels gladness, looking for and thus drawing to us continually the best in all people and all things, being thereby the creators of our own good fortunes.

CHEERFULNESS, looking on the bright side of things, seeing the humorous side of situations when others see only the "too-bad," the "provoking," the "spasm," the "isn't-it-terrible," is a matter of habit quite as much as it is a matter of aptitude.  If one lacks the habit he fails in one of the most important or even essential qualities of his life; so, on the other hand, to cultivate it to its highest is to become possessor of a quality in life most eagerly to be sought.

The optimistic, cheerful, hopeful habit of mind and thought is continually putting into and keeping in operation silent subtle forces that are continually changing from the unseen into the seen, from the ideal into the actual, and attracting to us, from without, conditions of a nature kindred to the type of thought force that we give birth to and set into operation.  Ordinarily we find in people those qualities we are mostly looking for; if we show to them our best, their best will open and show itself to us.

There is no quality that exerts more good, is of greater service to all mankind during the course of the ordinary life, than the mind and the heart that goes out in an all embracing love for all, that is the generator and the circulator of a genuine, hearty, wholesome sympathy and courage and good cheer, that is not disturbed or upset by the passing occurrence little or great, but that is serene, tranquil, and conquering to the end, that is looking for the best, that is finding the best, and that is inspiring the best in all.  There is, moreover, no quality that when genuine brings such rich returns to its possessor by virtue of the thoughts and the feelings that it inspires and calls forth from others and that come back laden with their peaceful, stimulating, healthful influences for him.

On the other hand, the peevish, gloomy, grumbling, panicky, critical—the small—cast a sort of deadening, unwholesome influence wherever they go.  They get, however, what they give, for they inspire and call back to themselves thoughts and feelings of the kind they are sufficiently stupid to allow a dominating influence in their own lives.  People ruled by the mood of gloom attract to themselves gloomy people and gloomy conditions, those that are of no help to them, but rather a hindrance.

The cheerful, confident, tranquil in all circumstances are continually growing in these same qualities, for the mind grows by and in the direction of that which it feeds upon.  This process of mental chemistry is continually working in our lives, bringing us desirable or undesirable conditions according to our prevailing mental states.

The course of determining resolutely to expect only those things which we desire, or which will be ultimately for our larger good, of thinking health and strength rather than disease and weakness, an abundance for all our needs rather than poverty, success rather than failure, of looking for and calling from others the best there is in them, is one of the greatest aids also to bodily health and perfection.  As a rule one seldom knows of those of this trend or determination of mind complaining of physical ailments, because they are generally free from the long list of ailments and disabilities that have their origin in perverted emotional and mental states, that by being regularly fed are allowed to externalize themselves and become settled conditions.

This attitude of mind is the one also that carries us through when the dark day comes and things look their worst.  It enables us to take the long view, to throw the thought on beyond the present day, difficulty, or depression to the time when it will have worked itself out all well and good.  Such times come to all.  We must be brave and bravely take our share.

It is how we bear ourselves at such times that determines our real worth and use, whether we have stamina, backbone, courage—real character—and if at such times we can stand unfaltering, uncomplaining, desirous of neither sympathy nor pity, patient but resolute, and doing today what today reveals to be done and so ready for the morrow when it comes, there can be but one outcome.  The Higher Powers of all the universe stand back of such a life, they uphold it, they sustain it, they stamp it with success, they crown it with adoration and with honour.

From The Wayfarer on the Open Road; click here for your free copy.



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For years, the people of Canyon Bluff have shared the stories of the Nogglz, their own version of the monsters in the closet. "If you don't behave, the Nogglz will come and get you and carry you down into the mines," they've told their children. Of course, they were just stories. Nobody could have stayed alive in an old mine for six decades. But when one of their own is brutally murdered one cold November night, it may be time to come to terms with the sins of their fathers and their own ties to the town's dreadful past. And for the sheriff and his deputy and the state troopers who are called to the town to deal with the murder, an ordinary day becomes an extraordinary battle for simple survival.
Sometimes I write things just to tell a story, but I just can't help mentioning some life lessons, even in a novel about creatures running amok in an old mining town in the Colorado mountains.  Nogglz is available in print by clicking here, or as a Kindle e-book by using the link to the left.  Using the mining town as the setting is a tribute to my mother, who grew up in a tiny mining town herself, and who has never left there in her heart.


The insight we gain from solitude has very little to do with
the amount of time we spend alone.  It has a lot more to do
with the quality of time we spend with ourselves.

Jan Johnson Drantell



Your New Chapters

I often look at my life as segments, as chapters in the story that I'm living out day after day.  There are many times in my life when it seems pretty obvious that one chapter is ending, while another is beginning.  Sometimes it's the result of something rather dramatic, such as a job change or a move to another place; other times, the changes are much more subtle, such as not seeing a certain friend nearly as much, or improving the way I do my job or changing the way I eat.

No matter what the change, though, it's fascinating to think of starting anew in life.  I know many people who don't really know what it's like to start anew, because they're afraid of letting go of the past, afraid of venturing into the unknown and taking what probably will be significant risks.  But when I look at such changes as chapters, I realize that with any change that I go through in life, I have the benefit of bringing along with me all my prior learning and experience, but I also have the possibility of leaving behind me all of the negative experiences and feelings.  As I write new chapters in my life through my words and deeds and actions and reactions, I really do have a choice as to how I want the new chapter to proceed.

I also keep in mind that in many ways, I'm creating more than one book and living through the chapters of several books at a time.  After all, the book of my relationships moves on to new chapters at different times than does the book of my work.  I may learn something very important about how I relate to other people at one time, yet learn something important about my job--or move on to another job--at a completely different time.  While I begin the next chapter of the book of my spirituality next week, I may be stuck in the same chapter of the book of my intellectual growth until next spring.

I like to see these books as reflections of growth, not simply as changes.  I like to see the chapters as having positive progressions as I leave behind unhelpful habits and limited ways of thinking and destructive ways of treating other people, and move on to doing helpful things, thinking more productively and positively, and treating other people in constructive ways.  It really is my choice, of course, because I choose if I'm going to learn and grow, or if I'm going to stay stuck in the same patterns that hold me back and hold me down.

How many of us would like to imagine starting a new job and immediately getting stuck in old habits of complaining and being bored and getting stuck in ruts?  How many of us would want the new job to turn into exactly what the old job was after a month or two, except for a different setting and different people around us?  But that's exactly what happens to many, many people in the world who don't use the job as an opportunity to write new stories--stories about being helpful to their co-workers, about excelling at what they do instead of doing adequate work, about learning all they can about their job and responsibilities and getting really good at it all.

How many of us would like to move to a new city and have our lives become exactly what they were in the old city after a few weeks?  Wouldn't we rather be taking advantage of new opportunities and seeing new things and learning about our new environment?  Unfortunately, many people move to a new city and spend their free time with the same old TV shows or video games, never finding out just what the new place has to offer.  They follow the same patterns that they followed in the previous chapter, and this new chapter becomes a repeat of the last one, with simply a different setting and different names.

Thinking about life in chapters is helpful to me because in times of trouble or stress, I can always remind myself that this chapter, too, shall come to an end.  After I was laid off at a school during the recession (all of the teachers who had advanced degrees were let go because they were paying us a bit more), for example, the chapters that I had to write were difficult, at best, though still positive.  I keep in mind, though, that the difficulties will come to an end as long as I persevere and do my best to make the most of my situations.

Thinking this way also helps me to excel in whatever I do, because I know that I don't necessarily need to see myself as building a strong life--which would look like an overwhelming task--but as creating strong chapters that comprise the overall whole of my life.  And positive parts work together to create a positive whole.

We can start a new chapter any time we want.  We can end the previous chapter with the words "And then he or she decided that a change was needed, and started. . . ."  The new chapter would begin perhaps with words like, "Although it was difficult at first, she or he soon started to see the positive results of the changes in life."  And after that, we would talk about the difficulties that the changes caused and then the positive results of it all.  Starting a new chapter doesn't have to be an intimidating, ominous task; it can simply be a few minor changes in habits or attitude or perspective.

Our lives are made up of chapters, and we all go through our lives writing many different books at once.  Once we're aware of this dynamic, wouldn't it be nice to be writing our own new chapters instead of hanging around and hoping that life writes them for us?  It definitely is within our power to be doing so.


More on change.


One of the most important elements
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People must be able to cut
a knot, for everything cannot
be untied; they must know how
to disengage what is essential
from the detail in which it
is enwrapped, for everything
cannot be equally considered;
in a word, they must be able to
simplify their duties, their
business, and their lives.

Henri Frederic Amiel


A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!--
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


If I am walking with two other people, each of them will serve as my
teacher.  I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them,
and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.



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