More from and about
Orison Swett Marden
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and
no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.

   

Every experience in life, everything with which we have come in contact in life, is a chisel which has been cutting away at our life statue, molding, modifying, shaping it. We are part of all we have met. Everything we have seen, heard, felt or thought has had its hand in molding us, shaping us.

      
When we are sure that we are on the right road there is no need to plan our journey too far ahead. No need to burden ourselves with doubts and fears as to the obstacles that may bar our progress. We cannot take more than one step at a time.
  
  
The universe is one great kindergarten. Everything that exists has brought with it its own peculiar lesson. The mountain teaches stability and grandeur; the ocean immensity and change. Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon our soul.
  
The universe is one great kindergarten. Everything that exists has brought with it its own peculiar lesson. The mountain teaches stability and grandeur; the ocean immensity and change. Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon our soul.
  
  
Our destiny changes with our thought; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thought corresponds with our desires.
   

Your outlook upon life, your estimate of yourself, your estimate of your value are largely colored by your environment. Your whole career will be modified, shaped, molded by your surroundings, by the character of the people whom you come in contact everyday.

     

A good laugh makes us better friends with ourselves and everyone around us.

   

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What keeps so many people back is simply unwillingness to pay the
price, to make the exertion, the effort to sacrifice their ease and comfort.

   

Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by
the opposition you have encountered, and the courage
with which you have maintained the struggle against
overwhelming odds.

   

The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not
in your environment, it is not in luck or chance,
or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.

   
    
Orison Swett Marden, founder of Success Magazine, is also considered to be the founder of the modern success movement in America.  He certainly bridged the gap between the old, narrow notions of success and the new, more comprehensive models made popular by best-selling authors such as Napoleon Hill, Clement Stone, Dale Carnegie, Og Mandino, Earl Nightingale, Norman Vincent Peale, and today's authors Stephen R.Covey, Anthony Robbins, and Brian Tracy.

Who was Orison Swett Marden?

He was the son of poor parents, born on a New England farm in 1850.  He attended Boston University, and also Andover Theological Seminary.  Graduating from Boston University in 1871, he took an M.D. at Harvard in 1881, an LL.B. degree, also at Harvard, in 1882, and studied at the Boston School of Oratory.

During his college days he worked at catering and hotel management and was so successful that he had some $20,000 in capital when he finished his formal training.  Then he went to Block Island, near Newport, Rhode Island, and bought a property which he developed into a thriving resort area.  Hardly a background, one would think, for a later literary career.  He went on to buy a chain of hotels in Nebraska, but in 1892 met financial reverses and had to take employment once more as a hotel manager in Chicago during the World's Fair of 1893.  Then he went back to Boston and started over again.

When he first met Samuel Smiles is not disclosed, but the English writer became his first literary hero and inspired much that Marden wrote and accomplished.  Smiles's Self-Help, which he had found in an attic and read, did much in the shaping of his career.  He once wrote, "The little book was the friction which wakened the spark sleeping in the flint."  Later of course he also read Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Longfellow, Phillips Brooks, and others, but Smiles was the "awakener."  It became his ambition, he says, to become the Samuel Smiles of America, and there is little doubt that he achieved his ambition.

On his return to Boston, he began to try to put together his ideas, particularly concerning optimism, which was to be a central theme in his writings -- incidentally also a central theme in New Thought.  While most of his books make little or no mention of religion, some do.  Marden was rather a writer of essentially New Thought faith than a writer technically on New Thought as such.  Actually he was for several years president of the League for a Higher Life, A New Thought organization in New York City of which Eugene del Mar was for many years the effective leader, and of which Robert H. Bitzer, longtime president of the INTA, was one time secretary.

Marden's first book, Pushing to the Front, published in 1894, had a phenomenal circulation.  In 1897 he founded Success Magazine, which reached the enormous circulation, for that time, of nearly a half-million, meaning of course that it was read by from two to three million readers.  This publication ran into financial difficulties and suspended publication in 1912.  But once again, in 1918, he founded a new Success which was rapidly climbing in circulation when death ended his career in 1924.

His book titles express eloquently the outlook of cheerful optimism and confidence.  At his death it was said of him that he averaged two books a year, from his first in 1894 to his last just before his passing in 1924, and had some two million words in as yet unpublished manuscripts when he died.  His writings are definitely in the New Thought tradition, though, in common with those of Ralph Waldo Trine, another prolific author of this period, they wear a cloak of orthodoxy which enabled them to reach a far larger readership than many other authors in this field.

Marden was a definite and highly influential figure, whether consciously or not, in the outreach of New Thought ideas into the general culture of his time.
  

  

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