The Seed of Success



    AFTER all is said and done, where does success reside? In material advantages, in solitary contentment, in lofty resignation? Is it in securing an aim after long years of endeavour, or is it in the daily realization of accomplished toil? Shall we measure it by the patent standard of the visible shows and circumstances of life, acknowledged by every one, or by the inward silent sanction of the individual conscience?
    Perhaps before one answers one must recall the ultimate aims and ambitions of this so frail mortality. Ask yourself, ask your friend, ask the first man you pass. I fancy they will tell you in one word, happiness is the end of man’s endeavour. Just to be happy [Page 73], to taste even for a moment the zest of radiant joy, is to partake of immortality. And to secure for himself as many serene hours and ecstatic moments as may be, this is the real aim of every man.
    Why do I desire estates, houses, display, friends, a family, society, pomp, luxury, power, ease, or amusement? Solely because in these things there reside momentary pleasures; because in them there are opportunities of reviving hour by hour the fleeting instants of unadulterated gladness; because in appreciating or experiencing them, the unresting spirit finds the very breath of its life.
    You ask me whether I call So-and-So successful; I must ask you whether he has been happy. It may be he was poor and looked down upon; but even so he was by no means unsuccessful, unless he was dejected, unless he longed for fame and wealth. It may be he was crowned with every tangible evidence of success, a man of note and influence, surrounded by everything he had striven for; still [Page 74] I call him unsuccessful if there lurked at his heart some faint reek of discontent. No, to be successful is to be happy. Happiness is success. If there can but permeate the spirit some floating sense and savour of joy, as we live, then is our success assured. If every day we can feel, if only for a moment, the elation of being alive, the realization of being our best selves, of filling out our destined scope and trend, you may be sure we are succeeding.
    And for one I must fancy that this gladness of life, this sure, radiant, happy sense of success comes only to the loving heart. It is very trite but very true to call love the seed of success.
    If anything can fill a human heart with that sunny warmth of loving kindness, for that individual success is already assured. Look at the people in the street, the faces streaming past you, as you walk. It is sad to note how many are the sorry, dejected, sick, and dispirited. But even as you look on these transparent masks, do you not know intuitively [Page 75] that the reason of their unhappy plight is their lack of success, and that the reason of their lack is their want of love? It is not a question of relative wealth. There are not more unhappy faces in one class than another. Think of the delicious thrill of encouragement one has now and again simply in encountering a glad, happy human face passing in the throng. Happiness, perhaps, comes by the grace of Heaven; but the wearing of a happy countenance, the preserving of a happy mien, is a duty, not a blessing. If I am so unloving and embittered that there is no suffusion of love in my heart which can show in my face, at least I am bound by every sacred obligation to my fellows to maintain a smiling countenance. Yes, even if it be insincere. For two reasons, for the sake of others, and for the sake of myself. There is nothing more potent than habit; and a sullen, hang-dog, injured, resentful expression is not only an unkindness to others but a menace to ourselves. While he who continually wears a smile [Page 76] must at times be betrayed into a smiling gladness of spirit.
    Let us remember the wisdom of the students of expression, in this regard, and be sure that if the inward habit of mind can control and form the outward habit of the features and frame impresses itself reflexly on the indwelling spirit. It is a realization of this truth that makes the Japanese insist so rigorously on the courteous seeming in all their daily deportment. Cheerfulness is with them a social duty; and if every man is not successful he is at least required to assume the aspect of success, the guise of a happy, contented spirit. How much might we not add to the total sum of our happiness as a people, if we, too, felt such an obligation. If you can find any justification for putting an unhappy murderer to death, there surely ought to be some punishment for that unsocial creature who constantly shows a gloomy face to the world. What right have you to sulk or be sad of visage? Your sorrow [Page 77] is, after all, no more than the common inheritance of all our kind, and there is before us still the old duty of brave, cheerful heroism. In the name of all the saints, therefore, let us pluck up a heart from somewhere and turn a pleasant look upon the world! We shall thus all become conspirators for happiness, each man in collusion with his neighbour to increase the sum of joy in the earth, to lighten the burden of the days and to put far off the night-time of inevitable natural sorrow.
    Then, too, think how the seed of success in all our artistic achievements is constantly revealing itself as the spirit of loving cheerfulness. There is nothing but the warmth of devotion which can irradiate and illumine the crafts of our hands. No skill, no technique, no device, no love of traditions, is competent for an instant to take the place of the artist’s love and care. You will see it in every line the painter draws, in every note the musician sounds, or you will miss it sorely. And wherever you are brought into touch with any piece [Page 78] of art that has the power to move you, you may be certain it has influence over the frail human heart because of the love in the heart of its creator. This is true, not only of the fine arts, but of all those less ambitious but no less honest arts we call industrial, to which so much untold toil has gone in the long history of man [Page 79].