"He who loves work gains all the favor of the gods," says Dr. Frank Crane.
Instead of being a curse, work is man's greatest blessing. There is no one thing that has ever done so much for humanity, that has given so much happiness, saved so many human beings from despair, and kept so many from suicide; no one thing that has called forth so many hidden resources, developed and strengthened so many powers of mind and body as has work.
A woman whose husband's health had failed, and who had also lost his property, said that she had never known what real happiness, real satisfaction, was until she had to push out for herself, to struggle to make a living for herself and her husband. She said that many of the things which previously had loomed so large, and annoyed her intensely when she had little or nothing to do, disappeared altogether as the larger responsibilities came to her. In the exercise of her talents in her daily work she found new life, new courage, new ambition. Her health also improved greatly after she had been thrown upon her own resources.
Dr. Richard C. Cabot, of Harvard University, says: "A human being is a creature who cannot be healthy or happy or useful unless his balance is preserved by motion, by change, by action, by progress." In other words, no man or woman can be healthy, happy or useful if not engaged in useful, productive work, work that will be of some service to mankind.
Many people have a sort of vague impression that a happy, constructive life is a thing apart from the day's work, that it is a mystical something, determined largely by fate or destiny. The truth is, it depends entirely on how we manipulate our personal assets. The material of which success and happiness are built is in our own hands. The building is the work of every day. It consists in living life up to its maximum possibility of good. There is no unnatural straining and striving in this. It is a simple matter of honest, earnest, persistent endeavor every day; of always trying to better our best and to make our highest moment permanent.
"Get your happiness out of your work or you will never know what real happiness is," said Elbert Hubbard. The idle life is never a happy life. You must feel satisfied with yourself before you can be happy, and you are not satisfied with yourself unless you are doing the best thing possible to you. I never knew an idle person to approve of or think much of himself. Such people are always restless, discontented, unhappy, always hunting for new sensations, new excitements.
No one has ever found greater happiness than in the normal, vigorous exercise of his faculties along the line of his bent. If you have the right spirit; if you have the soul of an artist, no matter what your vocation, however laborious your work, you will find joy and satisfaction in it. The only genuine satisfaction that can come to a human being is to be a real man, or a real woman, and one can not be that and live an idle, useless life.
One of the greatest delusions that ever crept into a human brain is the idea that the body of man, with its complex activities and functions, and the mind, with its divine possibilities, its immortal out reachings and longings can be satisfied with the froth of life, with its glittering but unsatisfying pleasures.
The human machine was made for action, was designed to perform useful work, and there can be no happiness for an able-bodied man or woman outside of an industrious life. We cannot cheat nature. If we would be happy, we must conform to nature's laws. Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man's being.
"Work cannot be evaded without serious spiritual loss," says Hamilton W. Mabie; "for work is the most general and the most searching method of education to which men are subject. A process which is educational, in a way at once so deep and rich must, in the nature of things, form part of the spiritual order of life; for education is always spiritual in its results. Christ's life among men was one of toil; He was bred to a trade, and practised it; His labors were manifold and continuous; and in word, deed and habit He identified Himself with those who work. Many of His most beautiful parables grew out of His familiarity with the tasks of the shepherd and husbandmen; many of the deepest truths He gave to His disciples were made real and comprehensible by the imagery of the working life in the fields and at home; and when he said, 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.' He not only gave a divine sanction to work, but He made it a part of the divine life."
There is something inside a man that condemns him and utters its everlasting protest against his taking out of life's granary all the good things which the workers have put into it, while he has done nothing himself to produce or to earn these things. There is something inside of him that tells him he is mean and contemptible, that he is a thief, if he does not perform his part of the world's work.
How would you feel if you were wrecked at sea and should climb upon a great raft which your fellow passengers had made out of floating pieces of the wrecked ship, taking the most comfortable position, eating heartily of the scant food, drinking all the water you wanted, even though the workers went thirsty while you refused to do your share of the necessary work in the desperate effort to get ashore? How do you think your companions would feel? Would they not be justified in throwing you overboard?
Now, the human race is a great world raft, sailing at lightning speed through space, and the work of every human being on board is necessary to keep the raft headed in the right direction, and always moving toward the appointed goal. If any one neglects to do his part the whole raft suffers.
But for the blessing of work the human mind would go to pieces. It is good, honest, regular work that preserves the physical and mental balance and keeps us in a normal condition.
God's medicine is work that we love. God's plan for man's development, his growth in mental and physical power and resourcefulness, is work.
It is the desire to attain, the struggle to realize our dreams, that unfolds our powers, calls, out our reserves, forms the character, makes the man; and there is no other possible way than through this exercise and through this evolutionary process that this great end can be accomplished.
Growth and happiness are found only in work; yet how most of us grumble at having to work so hard for everything we get! Who has not sometimes asked himself the question, "Why could not the Omnipotent cause bread ready made to grow on trees, and our clothing and our homes to come to us ready for use, so that we could spend our time in the development of our intellects, in self-culture, in travel, in pleasure?"
How little do the majority of us realize that everything that is desirable is so only because of its cost in effort! Supposing the Creator had provided everything full grown, ready made for our use, and that every human being had been college educated when born; supposing every wish could be gratified without any effort on our part, who would want to live in such a backbone less, jellyfish world, where there was no stamina, no initiative, no grit, no resolution, no incentive to activity, and consequently no stalwart manhood, no strong sweet womanhood, - because these things would be impossible without the constant struggle to attain? Who would care to live in a world of satisfied desires, with no motive for climbing?
This is not God's way. He planned a life of glorious achievement and self-development for man through work. "Work or starve" is written all over the universe, on the sod and on the starry heavens. Ceaseless activity characterizes all life. Every substitution that has ever been tried for work, for personal effort, has been a failure.
The man and the woman who tried to get the good things out of life without paying for them, without giving any equivalent in work, have been heard from. We all know them. They are characterless, selfish, indolent, greedy, overbearing, undeveloped; they never know what to do with themselves, they suffer more from ennui and satiety than they would ever suffer from the hardest work. They are always hunting for happiness but never finding it, because they don't earn it. We get the worth while things in life only through personal effort.
The chief ingredients of happiness are the right spirit and wholesome employment. We have the right spirit, when we are in harmony with our environment. When we add to this the doing of a superb piece of work, a fine day's work, we feel a sense of great satisfaction because we are using the human machine in a normal way, in the way it was intended to be used. We have been exercising it to the best of our ability, bringing into play our highest faculties, and contributing our share to the world's wealth.
If we have found our niche, if we are doing the thing we were made to do, we shall find no other happiness, no other satisfaction quite equal to that which we get out of our day's work.
I have rarely known of anyone to break down in doing work he loved. If we were all in our right places, doing the thing nature planned us to do, our work would be almost like play. Where the heart is there is no friction or discord, and friction and discord are what wear life out. These are what exhaust the vitality and waste the brain power. If you love your work, it will not deplete your strength, because it will not be a grind. On the contrary, it will be a pleasure, a perpetual stimulus.
The New Thought philosophy teaches that the mental attitude which we hold toward our work, or our aim in life, has everything to do with what we accomplish, with what life yields of true happiness and success. No one can make a real masterpiece of life until he sees something infinitely greater in his vocation than bread and butter and shelter. Until he sees his work as a task appointed him by the Father, to be done in the spirit of love, he will not have the right mental attitude toward it. Has not the Christ, whose life has taught all men how to live, said: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work"? And again, just before Gethsemane and Calvary: "Father, I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Even if you are doing something that is not congenial, make the best of it. Throw your whole soul into it. Do it with a manly, or a womanly spirit, in the spirit of an artist in love with his work, and you will rob it of its drudgery. Resolve that you will like it so long as you are obliged to do it, and that very mental attitude will be a step in leading you to that work which you were really created to do.
When you work in a grudging, unwilling spirit, you discourage and weaken the very qualities in yourself that will enable you to lift yourself out of an uncongenial position into the one you long to fill. If you have a level head, perseverance, and the right spirit you can make success enough even in the thing you do not like to enable you to open the door to your real work.
Good work never goes unrewarded. The willingness to do right, the spirit which never tires of trying to do its best, which puts willing effort into the humblest or most disagreeable task - this is the spirit which accomplishes the great things of life.
There is no other road to happiness than work.