Unquenchable Spirit (1949)
 
Dale Carnegie

  

One day when I was a boy, I was playing in an abandoned house in northwest Missouri.  I rested my feet on a window sill for a moment--and then jumped.  I had a ring on my left forefinger and the ring caught on a nailhead and tore off my finger.

I was terrified.  I was positive I was going to die.  But after the hand healed, I never worried about it.  Now, I seldom think about the fact that I have only three fingers and a thumb on my left hand.

A few years ago, I met a man who was running a freight elevator in a New York office building.  I noticed that his left hand had been cut off at the wrist.  I asked him if that loss bothered him.  He said, "Oh, no.  Only when I try to thread a needle."

It is astonishing how quickly we can accept almost any situation--if we have to--and adjust ourselves to it.  George V of England had these words framed on the wall of his library:  "Teach me neither to cry for the moon nor over spilt milk."  The same thought is expressed by Schopenhauer:  "A good supply of resignation is of the first importance in providing for the journey of life."

Obviously, circumstances alone do not make us happy or unhappy.  Our feelings are determined by the way we react to them.  We can all endure disaster and triumph over it--if we have to.  

We may not think we can, but we have inner resources that will see us through if we only make use of them.  We are stronger than we think.

The late Booth Tarkington had always believed that he could take anything that life could force upon him except one thing--blindness.  Then when he was along in his 60's, he began losing his sight.

When total darkness closed in, Tarkington said, "I found I could take the loss of my eyesight, just as one can take anything else.  If I lost all five of my sense, I know I could live on inside my mind.  For it is in the mind we see, and live."

Am I advocating that we simply bow down to all adversities?  Not by a long shot!  As long as there is a chance that we can save a situation, let's fight!  But when common sense tells us that we are up against something that cannot be otherwise, then, in the name of our sanity, let's not pine for what is not.

Sarah Bernhardt was an illustrious example of a woman who knew how to cooperate with the inevitable.  After half a century as the reigning queen of the theater on four continents, at 71 she found herself broke in Paris.  Worse than that, while crossing the Atlantic, she had fallen during a storm and injured her leg so severely that phlebitis developed.  The pain became so intense that the doctor finally concluded that the leg must be amputated, but he was almost afraid to tell the stormy, tempestuous Sarah what had to be done for fear the news would set off an explosion of hysteria.  But he was wrong.  Sarah looked at him a moment, and said quietly, "If it has to be, it has to be."

No one has enough emotion and vigor to fight the inevitable and, at the same time, enough left over to create a new life.  Choose one or the other.  You can either bend with the inevitable storms of life--or you can resist them and break!

Why do you think your automobile tires stand up on the road and take so much punishment?  At first, manufacturers tried to make a tire that would resist the shocks of the road.  It was soon cut to ribbons.  Then they made a tire that would absorb the shocks of the road.  That tire could "take it."  You and I will last longer, and enjoy smoother riding, if we learn to do the same.

  
   

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