worst thing about poverty is the poverty-thought. It is
the conviction that we are poor and must remain so that is
fatal to the gaining or competence. Holding the poverty
thought keeps us in poverty-stricken and poverty-producing
POVERTY is an abnormal condition. It does not fit any
human being's constitution. It contradicts the promise and
the prophecy of the divine in man. The Creator never
intended that man should be a pauper, a drudge, or a
slave. There is not a single indication in man's wonderful
mechanism that he was created for a life of poverty. There
is something larger and grander for him in the divine plan
than perpetual slavery to the bread winning problem.
No individual can do their best work—bring out the best
thing in them—while they feel want tugging at their
heels; while they are hampered, restricted, forever at the
mercy of pinching circumstances.
The very poor, those struggling to keep the wolf at bay,
cannot be independent. They cannot order their lives.
Often they cannot afford to express their opinions or to
have individual views. They cannot always afford to live
in decent locations or in healthful houses.
it who will, poverty in its extreme form is narrowing,
belittling, contracting, ambition-killing — an
unmitigated curse. There is little hope in it, little
prospect in it, little joy in it. It often develops the
worst in man and kills love between those who would
otherwise live happily together.
difficult for the average human being to be a real man
or a real woman in extreme poverty. When worried,
embraced, entangled with debts, forced to make a dime
perform the proper work of a dollar, it is almost
impossible to preserve that dignity and self-respect
which enable a man to hold up his head and look the
world squarely in the face. Some rare and beautiful
souls have done this and in dire poverty have given us
examples of noble living that the world will never
forget; but on the other hand, how many has its lash
driven to the lowest depths!
Everywhere we see the marks of pinching, grinding,
blighting poverty. The hideous evidences of want stare
us in the face everyday. We see it in prematurely old,
depressed faces, and in children who have had no
childhood and who have borne the mark of the
poverty-curse ever since their birth. We see it
shadowing bright young faces, and often blighting the
highest ambition and dwarfing the most brilliant
Poverty is more often a curse than a blessing, and those
who praise its virtues would be the last to accept its
I wish I could fill every youth with an utter dread and
horror of it; make them feel its shame, when
preventable, its constraint, its bitterness, its
There is no disgrace in unpreventable poverty. We
respect and honor people who are poor because of
ill-health or misfortune which they cannot prevent. The
disgrace is in not doing our level best to better our
What we denounce is preventable poverty, that which is
due to vicious living, to slovenly, slipshod, systemless
work, to idling and dawdling, or to laziness; that
poverty which is due to the lack of effort, to wrong
thinking, or to any preventable cause.
Every man and woman should be ashamed of poverty which
they can prevent, not only because it is a reflection
upon their ability, and will make others think less of
them, but also because it will make them think less of
The trouble with many of poverty's victims today is that
they have no confidence that they can get away from
poverty. They hear so much about the poor man's lack of
opportunities; that the great money combination will
compel nearly everybody in the future to work for
somebody else; they hear so much talk of the grasping
and the greed of the rich, that they gradually lose
confidence in their ability to cope with the conditions
and become disheartened.
I do not overlook the heartless, grinding, grasping
practices of many of the rich, or the unfair and cruel
conditions brought about by unscrupulous political and
financial schemers; but I wish to show the poor man
that, not withstanding all these things, multitudes of
poor people do rise above their iron environment, and
that there is hope for him. The mere fact that so many
continue to rise, year after year, out of just such
conditions as you may think are fatal to your
advancement, ought to convince you that you also can
conquer your environment.
When an individual loses confidence, every other success
quality gradually leaves them, and life becomes a grind.
They lose ambition and energy, are not so careful about
their personal appearance, are not so painstaking,
do not use the same system and order in their work, grow
slack and slovenly and slipshod in every way, and become
less and less capable of conquering poverty.
Because they cannot keep up appearances and live in the
same style as their wealthy neighbors, poor people often
become discouraged, and do not try to make the best of
what they have. They do not "put their best foot
forward" and endeavor with all their might to throw
off the evidences of poverty. If there is anything that
paralyzes power it is the effort to reconcile ourselves
to an unfortunate environment, instead of regarding it
as abnormal and trying to get away from it.
Poverty itself is not so bad as the poverty-thought.
It is the conviction that we are poor and must remain
so, that is fatal. It is the attitude of mind that is
destructive, the facing toward poverty and feeling so
reconciled to it that one does not turn about face and
struggle to get away from it with a determination which
knows no retreat.
It is facing the wrong way, toward the black,
depressing, hopeless outlook that kills effort and
demoralizes ambition. So long as you carry around a
poverty-atmosphere and radiate the poverty-thought, you
will be limited.
You will never be anything but a beggar while you think
beggarly thoughts, a poor man or woman while you think
poverty thoughts, a failure while you think failure
If you are afraid of poverty, if you dread it, if you
have a horror of coming to want in old age, it is more
likely to come to you, because this constant fear saps
your courage, shakes your self-confidence, and makes you
less able to cope with hard conditions.
The magnet must be true to itself, it must attract
things like itself. The only instrument by which man has
ever attracted anything in this world is his mind, and
his mind is like his thought; if it is saturated with
the fear-thought, the poverty-thought, no matter how
hard he works, he will attract poverty.
You walk in the direction in which you face; if you
persist in facing toward poverty, you cannot expect to
reach abundance. When every step you take is on the road
to failure, you cannot expect to reach the success goal.
If you can conquer inward poverty, we can soon conquer
poverty of outward things, for when we change the mental
attitude, the physical changes do correspond.
Holding the poverty-thought keeps us in touch with
poverty-stricken, poverty-producing conditions; and the
constant thinking of poverty, talking poverty, living
poverty, make us mentally poor. This is the worst kind
We cannot travel toward prosperity until the mental
attitude faces prosperity. As long as we look toward
despair, we shall never arrive at the harbor of delight.
The individual who persists in holding their mental
attitude toward poverty, or who is always thinking of
their hard luck and failure to get on, can by no
possibility go in the opposite direction, where the goal
of prosperity lies.
I know a young man who was graduated from Yale only a
few years ago—a broad-shouldered, vigorous young
fellow—who says that he hasn't the price of a hat, and
that if his father did not send him five dollars a week
he would go hungry.
This young man is the victim of discouragement, of the
poverty-thought. He says that he does not believe there
is any success for him. He has tried many things, and
has failed in them all. He says he has no confidence in
his ability, that his education has been a failure, and
that he has never believed he could succeed. So he has
drifted from one thing to another, and is poor and a
nobody, just because of his mental attitude, because he
does not face the right way.
If you would attract good fortune you must get rid of
doubt. As long as that stands between you and your
ambition, it will be a bar that will cut you off. You
must have faith. No man or woman can make a fortune
while they are convinced that they can't. The "I
can't" philosophy has wrecked more careers than
almost anything else. Confidence is the magic key that
unlocks the door of supply.
I never knew a person to be successful who was always
talking about business being bad. The habit of looking
down, talking down, is fatal to advancement.
The creator has bidden every human being to look up, not
down, has made them to climb, not to grovel. There is no
providence which keeps a person in poverty, or in
painful or distressing circumstances.
A young man of remarkable ability who has an established
position in the business world, recently told me that
for a long time he had been very poor, and remained so
until he made up his mind that he was not intended to be
poor, that poverty was really a mental disease of which
he intended to rid himself. He formed a habit of daily
affirming abundance and plenty, of asserting his faith
in himself and in his ability to become a man of means
and importance in the world. He persistently drove the
poverty-thought out of his mind. He would have nothing
to do with it.
He would not allow himself to think of possible failure.
He turned his face toward the success goal, turned his
back forever on poverty and failure, and he tells me
that the result of this positive attitude and persistent
affirmation has been marvelous.
He says that he used to pinch himself in every possible
way in order to save in little ways. He would eat the
cheapest kind of food, and as sparingly as possible. He
would rarely go on a street-car, even if he had to walk
for miles. Under the new impulse he completely changed
his habits, resolved that he would go to good
restaurants, that he would get a comfortable room in a
good location, and that he would try in every way to
meet cultured people, and to form acquaintances with
those above him who could help him.
The more liberal he has been, the better he has been to
himself in everything which could help him along, which
would tend to a higher culture and a better education,
the more things have comes his way. He found that it was
his pinched, stingy thoughts that shut off his supply.
Although he is now living well, he says that the amount
he spends is a mere bagatelle compared with the larger
things that come to him from his enlarged thought, his
changed attitude of mind.
Stingy, narrow minds do not attract money. If they get
money they usually get it by parsimonious saving, rather
than by obeying the law of opulence. It takes a broad,
liberal mind to attract money. The narrow, stingy mind
shuts out the flow of abundance.
It is the hopeful, buoyant, cheerful attitude of mind
that wins. Optimism is a success-builder; pessimism, an
Optimism is the great producer. It is hope, life. It
contains everything which enters into the mental
attitude which produces and enjoys.
Pessimism is the great destroyer. It is despair, death.
No matter if you have lost your property, your health,
your reputation even, there is always hope for the man
who keeps a firm faith in himself and looks up.
As long as you radiate doubt and discouragement, you
will be a failure. If you want to get away from poverty,
you must keep your mind in a productive, creative
condition. In order to do this you must think confident,
cheerful, creative thoughts. The model must precede the
statue. You must see a new world before you can live
If the people who are down in the world, who are
side-tracked, who believe that there opportunity has
gone by forever, that they can never get on their feet
again, only knew the power of reversal of their thought,
they could easily get a new start.
I know a family whose members completely reversed their
condition by reversing their mental attitude. They had
been living a discouraging atmosphere, so long that they
were convinced that success was for others, but not for
them. They believed so thoroughly that they were fated
to be poor that their home and entire environment were
pictures of dilapidation and failure. Everything was in
a run-down condition. There was almost no paint on the
house, no carpets on the floors, and scarcely a picture
on the wall — nothing to make the home comfortable and
All the members of the family looked like failures. The
home was gloomy, cold and cheerless. Everything about it
One day the mother read something that suggested that
poverty was largely a mental disease, and she began at
once to reverse her thinking habit, and gradually to
replace all discouraging, despondency, failure thoughts
with their opposites. She assumed a sunny, cheerful
attitude, and looked and acted as if life were worth
Soon the husband and children caught the contagion of
her cheerfulness, and in a short time the whole family
was facing the light. Optimism took the place of
pessimism. The husband completely changed his habits.
Instead of going to his work unshaven and unkempt, with
slovenly dress and slipshod manner, he became neat and
tidy. He braced up, brushed up, cleaned up and looked
up. The children followed his example. The house was
repaired, renovated within and without, and the family
forever turned their backs on the dark picture of
poverty and failure.
The result of all this was that it brought what many
people would call "good luck." The change in
the mental attitude, the outlook towards success and
happiness instead of failure, re-acted upon the father's
mind, gave him new hope and new courage, and so
increased his efficiency that he was soon promoted, as
were also his sons. After two or three years of the
creative, inspiring atmosphere of hope and courage, the
entire family and the homes were transformed.
Every man and woman must play the part of their
ambition. If you are trying to be a successful person
you must play the part. If you are crying to demonstrate
opulence, you must play it, not weakly, but vigorously,
grandly. You must feel opulent, you must think opulence,
you must appear opulent. Your bearing must be filled
with confidence. You must give the impression of your
own assurance, that you are large enough to play your
part and to play it superbly.
Suppose the greatest actor living were to have a play
written for them in which the leading part was to
represent a man in the process of making a fortune — a
great, vigorous, progressive character, who conquered by
his very presence. Suppose this actor, in playing the
part, were to dress like an unprosperous man, walk on
the stage in a stooping, slouchy, slipshod manner, as
though he had no ambition, no energy or life, as though
he had no real faith that he could ever make money or be
a success in business; suppose he went around the stage
with an apologetic, shrinking, sulking manner, as much
as to say "Now, I do not believe that I can ever do
this thing that I have attempted; it is too big for me.
Other people have done it, but I never thought that I
should ever be rich or prosperous.
Somehow good things do not seem to be meant for me. I am
just as ordinary man, I haven't had much experience and
I haven't much confidence in myself, and it seems
presumptuous for me to think I am ever going to be rich
or have much influence in the world." What kind of
an impression would he make upon the audience? Would he
give confidence, would he radiate power or forcefulness,
would he make people think that kind of a weakling could
create a fortune, could manipulate conditions which
would produce money? Would not everybody say that the
man was a failure? Would they not laugh at the idea of
his conquering anything?
Suppose a young man should start out with a
determination to get rich, and should all the time
parade his poverty, confess his inability to make money,
and tell everybody that he is "down on his
luck"; that he "always expects to be
poor." Do you think he would become rich? Talking
poverty, thinking poverty, living poverty, assuming the
air of a pauper, dressing like a failure, and with a
slipshod, slovenly family and home, how long will it
take a man to arrive at the goal of success?
Our mental attitude toward the thing we are struggling
for has everything to do with our gaining it. If an
individual wants to become prosperous, they must believe
that they were made for success and happiness; that
there is a divinity in them which will, if they follow
it, bring them into the light of prosperity.
Erase all the shadows, all the doubts and fears, and the
suggestions of poverty and failure from your mind. When
you have become master of your thought, when you have
once learned to dominate your mind, you will find that
things will begin to come your way. Discouragement,
fear, doubt, lack of self-confidence, are the germs
which have killed the prosperity and happiness of tens
of thousands of people.
If it were possible for all the poor to turn their backs
on their dark and discouraging environment and face the
light and cheer, and if they should resolve that they
are done with poverty and a slipshod existence, this
very resolution would, in a short time, revolutionize
Every child should be taught to expect prosperity, to
believe that the good things of the world were intended
for them. This conviction would be a powerful factor in
the adult life if the child were so trained.
Wealth is created mentally first; it is thought out
before it becomes a reality.
When a young man or woman decides to become a physician,
they put themselves in a medical atmosphere just as much
as possible. They talk medicine, read medicine, study
medicine, think medicine until they become saturated
with it. They do not decide to become a physician and
then put themselves in a legal atmosphere, read law,
talk law, think law. So if you want success, abundance,
you must think success, you must think abundance.
Stoutly deny the power of adversity or poverty to keep
you down. Constantly assert your superiority to your
environment. Believe that you are to dominate your
surroundings, that you are the master and not the slave
Resolve with all the vigor you can muster that, since
there are plenty of good things in the world for
everybody, you are going to have your share, without
injuring anybody else or keeping others back. It was
intended that you should have a competence, an
abundance. It is your birthright. You are success
organized, and constructed for happiness, and you should
resolve to reach your divine destiny.
When you make up your mind that you are done with
poverty forever; that you will have nothing more to do
with it; that you are going to erase every trace of it
from your dress, your personal appearance, your manner,
your talk, your actions, your home; that you are going
to show the world your real mettle; that you are no
longer going to pass for a failure; that you have set
your face persistently toward better things—a
competence, an independence — and that nothing on
earth can turn you from your resolution, you will be
amazed to find what a reinforcing power will come to
you, what an increase of confidence, reassurance, and
The very act of turning your back upon the black picture
and resolving that you will have nothing more to do with
failure, with poverty; that you will make the best
possible out of what you do have; that you will put up
the best possible appearance; that you will clean up,
brush up, talk up, look up, instead of down — hold
your head up and look the world in the faces instead of
cringing, whining, complaining — will create a new
spirit within you which will lead you to the light. Hope
will take the place of despair, and you will feel the
thrill of a new power, of a new force coursing through
Thousands of people in this country have thought
themselves away from a life of poverty by getting a
glimpse of that great principle, that we tend to
realize in the life what we persistently hold in the
thought and vigorously struggle toward.