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Why the Little Wedge of Discouragement Attracts
the Largest Number of Victims
By ORISON SWETT MARDEN
CARTOON BY GORDON ROSS
C OMEWHERE I have seen a picture called for nothing tells so quickly in one's appearance
“The Devil's Auction," in which, from and manner, or hinders so much in getting work,
among many other articles, the devil, as as a depressed mentality. In this condition, he auctioneer, exhibits a small wedge with a very was an easy mark for the devil; and when the sharp edge. This he is said to prize above all his temptation came to rob in order to relieve his other tools, because he has caught more victims necessities he yielded. “I believe we all make with it than with any of his other devices. our unfortunate slips, our bad breaks,” he wrote,
We all know what this insidious wedge is, for “when we are in a discouraged, despondent state. there is no one who has not at some time in his Then, to get rid of our anxieties, our pressing life made its acquaintance. It is called Dis- necessities, we are willing to do almost anything.” couragement.
Although this young man is filled with remorse The devil holds that this is the only thing he for what he has done, and is resolved to redeem can insert in the average mind almost without his one lapse from the straight path of honor notice: that, in fact, one is unconscious of the when he leaves prison, yet he will never be able to entry of the thin sharp edge of the wedge. But wipe out wholly the record of his crime. This after it has once entered he can make his victim is the most terrible thing about discouragement; do anything he pleases. When a person is once once you allow yourself to yield completely to its thoroughly discouraged, the devil has little depressing influence you are liable to do somedifficulty in urging him to do some desperate thing that you never can undo, something that thing that will mar or utterly ruin his whole life. you will unavailingly regret to the end of your
days. ISCOURAGEMENT is at the bottom of
more failures, more crime and misery, THE devil watches his opportunity to get his more broken hearts, more ruined lives, more I victims at a disadvantage, when they are suicides, than any other one thing. As author down and out, or suffering in some way. He and magazine editor, I receive more letters from knows that it is no use to tackle a man when he is people suffering from this form of mental disease fit, when he is courageous, energetic, and am
-chronic discouragement is a disease--than bitious--full of life and enthusiasm, working are written to me on any other subject. with a will at his life task, or preparing with high Not long ago a letter
hopes to enter his from a young man who
chosen career,--so be was then undergoing a
times his attacks until I FIND letters from God jail sentence for rob
he can get him when bery, told me that it I dropped in the street he is down and out was discouragement
mentaly. That is the and every one is signed by that had driven him to
time he spreads black crime. He had a wife God's name, and I leave pictures before his eyes and child dependent
and whispers in his ear them where they are; for I on him when he lost
words of discouragehis job, and nothing know that whereso'er I go, ment, when he tells laid by for a rainy day.
him that there is no others will punctually come, Discouragement got
use in struggling hold of him, and, no forever and ever.
against fate, that the doubt, had a great deal
only way out of the
-Walt Whitman to do with his failure
difficulty that conto get another position,
fronts him is the way
he points out. No psychologist in this world no other way. out of their trouble, whatever it knows human nature like the devil, so none was, than the taking of their own lives. knows better than he that the man who is down The student in school or college-sometimes and out is easily influenced, and will always look it is a child in grammar school-fails in his exfor the easiest way out.
aminations, or is afraid he will; the business man It is estimated that the average number of who in a financial crisis sees failure and ruin
ahead of him; the talented young artist who meets with one disappointment after another and despairs of ever making the goal of his ambition; those who are disappointed in love, who have trouble in the home, who lose dear friends or are deceived by someone in whom
they had absolute faith-the list is as long as the list of human ills—but one and all are well-nigh demented when they rob themselves of that which the normal man prizes above all other things—the precious gift of life. .
The number who cut themselves off in this way, however, are as a drop in the ocean compared with the millions whose lives are ruined every year by the devil's wedge of discouragement. He gets it into the youth's mind and makes him leave college when homesick or when he strikes extra difficulties in working his way through. He makes multitudes leave halflearned trades and professions, and persuades
"Here it is! Discouragement! My most valuable possession!”
suicides in the en
iire civilized world each year is one million; and it is safe to say that nine out of ten of this appalling number are driven to self-destruction by discouragement. Day after day, in the newspapers of every great city, we read of men, women, and even children who, under the influence of the devil's prompting, could see
students to leave their half-learned art to try something else.
He has induced people in every field to quit the things that they longed to do and had struggled hard to get started in. With the help of his diabolical wedge of discouragement the devil has driven untold numbers from their lifetask, the work they were created to do, by
him. Unless he turns about face, shuts out the devil and his wedge, and finds the God in himself there is no hope for him.
making them believe they were on the wrong track, and that somewhere else, in some other field, they would have a better chance. So he has kept people moving about all over the world, shifting, changing, never finding the satisfaction and happiness they crave because they are round pegs in square holes.
N ISCOURAGEMENT is a disease that is
universal in some form. Everybody in greater or less degree is the victim of its poison. I frequently get letters from young men and women on the threshold of their active careers, with fine possibilities ahead of them, telling me how discouraged they are. A recent one from a young woman, after detailing a pitiful list of her troubles and discouragements, the things which she says are keeping her down and making her prematurely old, closes with, “Yours from the depths of the blues.”
Now, people who live in “the depths of the blues” are sure marks for the devil's wedge. Our habitual moods have everything to do with our success, and the man or woman who encourages the "blues" instead of driving them away is bidding for failure. Encouraging the “blues” usually ends in chronic discouragement, and when any one allows himself to fall into this state, no one outside of himself can do anything for
Qo long as life remains, no matter what your D age or sex or condition, you can regain your lost hope and courage. You can drive out fear, worry, the “blues," all forms of discouragement, all the enemies of your success and happiness, by claiming your divine inheritance and asserting your kinship with God.
The Creator never made any one to be a coward, to run away from difficulties. It is only the devil's wedge that does that. We were made to hold up our heads, to look the world in the face without flinching, to conquer every difficulty that opposes us in our efforts to do the thing we were sent here to do. We were made to succeed in our work, to be happy in it, and if we fail, it is because we turn coward in the battle of life; for it is cowardice, lack of faith in the Creator, that drives people to despair and suicide.
No matter how depressing your present condition, or what your troubles, if you take your higher self, the man or woman God made you to be for your guide, you can recover your footing, you can be the brave, successful, happy being the Creator planned.
DON'T PUT OFF
HE hard problem, the tough job. Tackle it first.
Writing to your mother or father, or brother or sister, and in other ways showing your affection for them.
The putting on of new clothes, Don't put off putting up a good front, making a good appearance that will tally with the thing you are after in life.
Keeping fit, looking after your physical and mental welfare.
The daily bath and the perfect grooming of your self.
Self-improvement. While it is never too late to learn, it is better to begin early.
Attending to your friendships. Friends will leave us if we give them no attention, and one of the greatest regrets of multitudes of men, as they near the end of life, is that they have put off their friendships--put off cultivating them while they were making money.
Getting acquainted with your family, giving time to your children, showing interest in their sport
and having fun with them. Be their pal and you will not regret it later.
Being kind to others; saying and doing the helpful, considerate thing to-day.
Trying to control your unbridled temper or cruel tongue.
Giving time and attention to your home life, and contributing toward a beautiful home atmosphere.
Registering your vow for better things.
The higher impulses until they cease to plead with you.
The beginning of the thing your heart longs for, and that you feel able to accomplish.
Making a decision until it is useless or you lose your power to decide.
Getting out of a rut. The present is a good time to make the effort.
Turning over a new leaf and reforming your bad habits. Do it now!
-0. S. M.
How Leigh Hunt, Admiral Farragut, Salmon P. Chase, David
Livingston, Karl Harriman, Peter Clark MacFarlane and Others Who Became Successful Started for Their Goals
TOU'RE fired!' said the managing editor of Y a newspaper in Detroit, Michigan, to a
young fellow, several years ago. The man who was thus suddenly informed that fate no longer wanted him around these parts as a substantial part of the pay roll grinned.
He grinned just as some men grin when they face their executioner, but his heart was as heavy as a three-ton truck. He had been married only a month. All during that month, in the enthusiasm of youthful optimism, he casually informed his wife that the next move for him would probably be the city-editor's desk. Instead, the next move was through the front door.
"But it was the best thing that ever happened to me!” this same man said to me a few days ago, as I sat in his office in Chicago. He is Karl Harriman, now editor of the Red Book Magazine, with supervision over two other magazines.
“Why do you consider being fired such a glorious experience?” I asked him.
"Because, if I hadn't been fired I would be writing copy to-day for that paper at a meager salary. As it was, being fired compelled me to
dig out for myself. I went to Philadelphia and applied for a job with a publishing house in that city, and, in a few years' time, Mr. Edward Bok invited me to be the managing editor of The Ladies' Home Journal.
“So that's why you believe now that the managing editor did you a good turn when he fired you?” I asked, with a smile of understanding.
“I sure do!"
"No! I considered it a great calamity then. That's why I am anxious to tell others that getting fired from that job was the best trick that fate ever played me.”
"You were, then, literally and figuratively kicked into your little kingdom here in this office, weren't you?”
"Kicked is right; kicked just like the boy peeping under the tent when along came, a circus roustabout and, the first thing the boy knew, he was sitting in the lap of a clown: 'How did you get here?' asked the clown. 'I was kicked in,' answered the boy. “Then in you stay!' said the clown. You are my guest from
now on.' That boy, I would say, was, to use Goethals when he took the sea trip for his your phrase, literally kicked into a boy's king health. “It was only to get rid of a serious dom.'” Thus spake the editor from his little malady that threatened my life. In fact I room on the top floor of a big Chicago office- didn't know what I was to do. I was blue and building.
discouraged, with no money and no possibility of His is truly a little kingdom. The bell rang going back to preaching, because of my health. and in came an artist. The decision as to When we landed in Panama, I decided to have a whether an illustration should be cut for two talk with Goethals, if that were possible. It pages or run clear across double pages was made was. I landed a real interview. It won attenin a few seconds, and made by the editor. A tion, and then came others. They were folyoung woman entered. “Mr. Blank, to see lowed by stories and books." you.” I recognized the name as that of a well “So you, too, were 'kicked into your kingknown author.
dom' by fate?” I said to him. It was fascinating to watch Karl Harriman at “I certainly was! And I still bear the prints work, and to realize that, as is the case of any of the hobnails on my anatomy!” he said with a successful editor, more than a million people are grin. a part of his kingdom; a part of his audience; a “So far as that is concerned,” said Macpart of his congregation; a part of his political Farlane, “Theodore Roosevelt was kicked into constituency; a part of his great group of his kingdom' too, by fate.” unknown.
“What do you mean; into the Presidency?” His is truly a little kingdom of power, and he I asked him. had been kicked into it.
“No, I wasn't thinking of that. I was thinking
of the time he suddenly faced the fact that he How Peter Clark MacFarlane Left
was a weakling, physically, and bad to go West the Ministry
for his health. That was the turning point in T KNOW a successful writer. He is Peter Roosevelt's career. He told me so himself; so
Clark MacFarlane. Fate kicked him out of bad health literally kicked him in, too!" the theater. He was an actor. As he walked
Leigh Hunt and Farragut Were Misfits home he saw a little church boarded up, a sign on the front door stating that the church was THEN, I thought of Leigh Hunt. He had closed because it didn't have a preacher.
I been a misfit through all bis early days. In MacFarlane had always had a hankering to school and college, he was one of the men who preach, so he hunted up the deacons and said didn't fit in. A sudden sickness came while he that he would fill the pulpit until they could was in New York. It was a sickness that was engage a regular preacher. He captivated the accompanied by terrible suffering. But he says congregation, and the result was that he became of this sickness in his autobiography: “One a successful preacher. Then fate gave him great benefit resulted to me from this suffering. another kick. This time it was sickness, and he It gave me an amount of reflection, such as, in all landed in Panama where he interviewed George probability, I never should have had without it. W. Goethals, the engineer who built the Panama It taught me patience, it taught me charity, it Canal. It was the first time that the great taught me the worth of little pleasures, as well as American had ever been successfully interviewed, the utility and dignity of great pains; it taught although many magazines had made an attempt. that evil itself contains good.”
MacFarlane was a sick man. He had to have This sickness made Leigh Hunt. It changed a sea voyage for a rest. His friend, Captain his life. Yardley, then commanding a small coast-wise ship, out of San Francisco, bantering him, said, AVID FARRAGUT was kicked into his “Bring your family and take a trip with me kingdom by his father. down to Panama.”
He had been rather dissolute and careless, and “I had no idea he would take me up," Captain held the idea that a real seaman must be a Yardly told me, as I talked with him in San swearing tyrant. According to an old story of Francisco. “But, when the ship was ready to his early life, his father called him into his own sail, Peter showed up with his whole family. cabin after turning everybody else out, and, They were a great crowd. I remember that the locking the door, remarked: children told the passengers their father was the “David, what do you mean to be?” janitor of a New York apartment house. That “I mean to follow the sea.” was their idea of a man of power.”
"Follow the sea!" said his father. “Be a MacFarlane had no idea of interviewing poor, miserable, drunken sailor before the mast,