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Inspirational Thoughts

True success in life is possible only if you've made the business of living a spiritually richer and happier experience. Over the past 84 years, I have identified and embraced simple spiritual principles that have helped me live more fully, deeply and joyfully. These laws of life transcend time periods, cultures and religions. Each has the power to help us think more carefully about the way we live and how we interact with others.
--Sir John Templeton

Defeat is bitter only if you swallow it. There is a big difference between acknowledging that you failed at something you attempted and seeing yourself as a failure. The former relates to action, the latter is who you are. Accepting defeat is accepting failure. Better: Use defeat as a stepping-stone on the path to success.

Mistakes are inevitable in life. Taking prudent risks sharpens your instincts and develops your talent.

Example: In the process of inventing the light bulb in 1879, Thomas Edison tried and failed more than 1,000 times. Someone once asked him if he had ever become discouraged and considered giving up. Edison answered, "Those were steps on the way. In each attempt, I was successful in finding a way not to create a light bulb. I was always eager to learn, even from my mistakes."

To hate is to give others power over you. When we allow ourselves to feel hate, we allow the object of our hate to have control over our well-being. Allowing external forces to have such negative influences over you is a mistake. People are more productive when they choose to forgive others and focus their energies on positive thoughts and productive actions.

Example: The educator Booker T. Washington (18561915) was an emancipated slave who started out living in poverty and had to work from the age of nine to help support his family. But instead of becoming bitter about the hardship he faced and viewing himself as a victim, Washington worked hard to improve his situation. He first became a janitor in a school to obtain his education. Then he went on to teach at Hampton Institute, one of the first African-American colleges in the US, and later organized and became president of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Washington's lifelong motto: "I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him."

Perseverance is the difference between success and defeat .

The great people in history each had more than one great idea. They had the strength and courage to be persistent. To persevere is to remain faithful to an idea in the face of obstacles or discouragement. Tenacity is the best way to achieve your goals and dreams, and there is no substitute for it.

Example: Abraham Lincoln faced a series of failures and obstacles before he became president and brought the Civil War to a successful conclusion.

  • He suffered the death of both his mother and his sister when he was young.
  • He suffered from depression in his early 30s.
  • He suffered the death of two of his young sons.
  • He failed as a businessman.
  • He was defeated for nominations as a candidate for Congress in 1843 and 1844.
  • He was defeated as a candidate for the Senate in 1855 and 1859.
  • He was defeated for nomination as a vice-presidential candidate in 1856.

Yet Lincoln persevered and succeeded, and he is remembered for all his successes, not his failures.

Laughter

Nothing heals emotional wounds better or faster than laughter. There are physiological benefits to laughter, such as muscles relax, breathing deepens and the bloodstream becomes more fully oxygenated. Laughter is good for the body and the soul.

Example: Editor and essayist Norman Cousins used laughter to defeat cancer by watching videotaped sitcoms in his hospital room.

Whatever you have, you must use it or lose it.

We've often heard this maxim applied to physical strength and flexibility, but it applies equally well to the intellect and spirit. No matter how old you are, you must continue to think and create.

Example: In 1956, Harland Sanders was an out-of-work 66-year-old in Corbin, Kentucky, who faced the prospect of becoming older and poorer. Instead, he put his knowledge and talents to good use. He loaded his car with a 50-pound can of his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and his pressure cooker and visited restaurants to cook chicken for the owners.

Sanders would tell restaurant owners, "Let me cook chicken for you and your staff. If you like the way it tastes, I'll give you a franchise and teach you how to cook the chicken my way, and you pay me a five-cent royalty on every chicken you sell." Colonel Sanders continued to use his talents and knowledge late in life to help grow the largest and most successful chicken restaurant in the world, and he lived to be 90 years old.

All sunshine makes a desert

If it weren't for the variety in our lives and contrasting emotions, we would never improve our lives or ourselves. Problems will always exist. The key is to recognize that every problem has a solution.

Example: Actor Sidney Poitier was raised in poverty in the Bahamas. At age 16, with little education and three dollars in his pocket, he moved to New York City. He responded to an ad for an actor but was interrupted during his audition when he couldn't read all the words in the script. The rejection made him more determined than ever to get ahead. He got a job as a dishwasher, bought a radio and learned to enunciate by listening to the voices being broadcast. A waiter in the restaurant in which Poitier worked tutored him in reading. When Poitier could afford to, he took acting lessons.

Minds are like parachutes

They only function when open. An open mind can receive unexpected information and insight. It is flexible and open to new ideas and people. An open mind enables you to grow and learn. The trick is to keep yourself from coming to conclusions too quickly and to see opportunity at every turn.

Example: In 1950, Frank McNamara co-founded Diners Club, the first credit card accepted by restaurants, after eating a meal in a fancy New York restaurant and being embarrassed when he didn't have enough cash in his pocket to pay for it.

Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Sir John Templeton, the eminent financier, philanthropist and founder of the John Templeton Foundation, which supports more than 60 programs focusing on science, religion, spirituality, health and education, 100 Matsonford Rd., Ste.320, Radnor, Pennsylvania 19087. 800-561-3367. He is author of six books, including Worldwide Laws of Life (Templeton Foundation Press).

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Last modified: January 26, 2013