Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Will Power.
    A Man who signs himself "Rags and Tatters,"
appeals to the public for aid--spiritual aid.  He
says: "I am more or less afflicted with a philosophical
misanthropy, and have fundamentally no ambition.
At this age I have no definite idea or principle that
I can aspire to, and as a result anything I touch is
only half-hearted and is doomed to failure.
    "Give me an honest, practicable ideal; give me
light to see the old and worn-out truth, and not only
light to see, but also strength to grasp it, and I will
let you have all the material treasure of this earth."
    This man is very much better off than thousands
of men and women who are in the same condition,
but who do not know it.
    Once we know our faults, the remedy is half
obtained.  I like "Rags and Tatters."  I like the
earnestness in his last plea, and the insight it shows
of a great truth.  He realizes that "all the material
treasures of the earth" are as nothing compared to
the light within one's own mind and soul.  Perhaps
he realizes, too, that once he obtains that light it
will so illuminate the darkness that he will be able
to see and find "all the material treasures of earth"
he may desire.
    The very first thing this man must do is to cease
to think of himself as "Rags and Tatters."  He
must rename himself "Purple and Fine Linen."
    A man who can write a whole sermon in a few
concise sentences, as the author of the appeal
has done, belongs to the aristocrats of God's intel-
lectual kingdom.  He must so regard himself.
Being of noble birth, he must expect everything
noble and great to come into his life.  Rags and
tatters do not belong in his house.  He must not
think of them as in any way associated with himself.
    The most foolish, the most senseless, and the most
pernicious philosophy in the world is that which
prompts a person to say, "It is my nature; I cannot
do otherwise, because it is natural to me to do this
way."  I hear this atrocious and false statement
made by all sorts of people as an excuse for all sorts
of failures, faults, and vices.
    "It is natural for me to be very quick-tempered,
and if anything crosses me I go all to pieces in a
minute.  It is my nature."  Or, "It is natural for
me to be very despondent.  I can't help it.  I was
always that way, and my mother was so before me."
Or, "I am naturally very unsystematic, and it is
impossible for me to have things orderly about me.
I would like to, but I can't.  You see we can't
change our natures."
    But we can improve our natures, and so better
them that they are as good as new ones.
    We can do anything we set about resolutely to do
with our dispositions, and habits, and bodies.
    A weak muscle can be made strong and vigorous
by systematic exercise every day.  A poor memory
can be strengthened by practical methods of using
it.  A quick temper can be governed by the will,
and by a consciousness that it is vulgar and crude
to give way to every temptation to be irritable. A
tendency to disorder can be overcome by a realiza-
tion that it interferes with the comfort of others, and
by an unselfish resolve to give pleasure instead of
annoyance to one's associates.  All these things
I have seen done.
    Just in the same way can the writer of the above
create ambition within himself, and make a success
of his life if he so chooses.
    Let him take the first waking half hour of every
day to clear the cobwebs out of his mind.  He
should begin by telling himself that he is heir to all
God's great wealth of cheerfulness, ambition,
industry, courage, and success.
    All these things exist, and he has a right to them
--the right of direct inheritance.
    Perhaps this may seem foolish to one who has
called himself "Rags and Tatters," but why not
this foolishness, as well as the foolishness of misan-
thropy?  Since it has accomplished nothing for
the man in thirty years, let him try a new kind
of thinking for one year, and note its results.
Should he persist faithfully for even one month, in
a half hour each day given to these healthful
mental gymnastics, I am confident he will be sur-
prised at the results.
    Ambition will begin to sprout, courage will take
root, and cheerfulness will sun the soil of his
    The first thoughts which we allow to dominate
the waking mind in the morning have a vital influ-
ence upon the whole day.
    Invoke cheerfulness, ambition, and hope!  Say
the words over and over.  There is a great deal in
a spoken word. While you are saying "ambition"
and "cheerfulness," misanthropy and gloom are
being held at bay.  After you have said the rosary
a few times, you will begin to think it, and to act
it.  Try and see.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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