Some Thoughts of Value - Nightingale

Is your life meaningful? Here's a rule-of-thumb you can use...

Thoughts of Value


Another essay by Earl Nightingale from the How to Completely Change Your Life Series


Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote:

“The great day comes when a man begins to get himself off his hands. He has lived, let us say, in a mind like a room surrounded by mirrors. Every way he turned he saw himself. Now, however, some of the mirrors change to windows. He can see through them to objective outlooks that challenge his interests. He begins to get out of himself, no longer the prisoner of self-reflections but a free man in a world where persons, causes, truths, and values exist, of value for their own sakes. Thus to pass from a mirror-mind to a mind with windows is an essential step in the development of real personality. Without that experience no one ever achieves a meaningful life.”

This is a good rule-of-thumb to determine whether or not your life is meaningful. Just ask yourself, and answer honestly, whether or not yours is a room of mirrors or of windows. There are certain to be some mirrors, I suppose, but the relation of mirrors to windows can give you an idea of your degree of maturity and real happiness.

It is a good simile because it gives us a chance to think about life in a new way—as a room. No one could long be happy living in a room of mirrors with all the world shut out. But with even one window, you could see some of the world outside, and as you grow and mature as a person, you open mere windows until finally, and ideally," the walls have disappeared and you are one with the world.

Here is another quotation I like, from Lansing P. Shield:

“Research in the minds of men will parallel research in the field of mechanics. The machine has carried us far; men will carry us farther and faster.

“Our American system is still in its infancy; we scarcely have scratched the surface of a deep deposit of initiative; we have but tapped the resources of the free enterprise system. The initiative of a mere minority has yielded unparalleled results. What tremendous horizons loom if we fully develop the initiative of the majority! The limits of our American way are only those vast expanses of about two hundred million creative minds, two hundred million creative minds in which the spark of individual initiative awaits only release. Machines move mountains, but initiative moves men.”

It is important that each of us remembers that word “initiative.” To the extent that initiative is reduced in our country will our progress as a nation be slowed. Conversely, if we can maintain and improve the rewards which trigger initiative, we will become progressively stronger, healthier, and richer as a people. Initiative is to a man what fuel is to a rocket; the more you have, the higher and farther you can travel.

People without initiative are people without hope. If you find your initiative in short supply, maybe it is because you have not decided where you want to go and what you want to do.

Carlyle wrote:

“Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are, for it shows me what your ideal of manhood is, and what kind of a man you long to be.”


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