Seed of Success
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
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
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].