Why this stuff is important.
This book concerns everyone. Essentially, it says that there is a workable system for self-improvement which has been tested and proven through popular subscription – people like it and buy its authors' works. If one believes the data from these books to be true, then all manner of improvement in life is open to that person.
But let me quote this value as seen by the authors themselves:
“The operation of this thought process is seen in those fortunate natures that possess everything that others must acquire by toil, who never have a struggle with conscience because they always act correctly, can never conduct themselves otherwise than with tact, learn everything easily, complete everything they begin with a happy knack, live in eternal harmony with themselves, without every reflecting much what they do, or ever experiencing difficulty or toil.
“The fruit of this thought is, as it were, a gift of the gods, but a gift which few as yet realize, appreciate, or understand. The recognition of the marvelous power which is possessed by the mind under proper conditions and the fact that this power can be utilized, directed, and made available for the solution of every human problem is of transcendental importance.”
Thomas F. Haanel, The Master Key System
“The real battle of life is one of ideas; it is being fought out by the few against the many; on the one side is the constructive and creative thought, on the other side the destructive or negative thought; the creative thought is dominated by an ideal, the passive thought is dominated by appearances. On both sides are men of science, men of letters, and men of affairs.” (ibid.)
“All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual responsibility must be absolute. A man's weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own and not another man's. They are brought about by himself and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man's. His sufferings and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so is he; as he continues to think, so he remains.
“A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped. And even then the weak man must become strong of himself. He must, by his own efforts, develop the strength which he admires in another. None but himself can alter his condition.”
James Allen, As A Man Thinketh.
“The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows them as the realities which it shall one day see and know. Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage--these are the makers of the after-world, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived. Without them, laboring humanity would perish. He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart, will one day realize it. Columbus cherished a vision of another world and he discovered it. Copernicus fostered the vision of a multiplicity of worlds and a wider universe, and he revealed it. Buddha beheld the vision of a spiritual world of stainless beauty and perfect peace, and he entered into it.
“Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
“To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve. Shall man's basest desires receive the fullest measure of gratification, and his purest aspirations starve for lack of sustenance? Such is not the Law. Such a condition can never obtain: 'Ask and receive.'
“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg. And in the highest vision of a soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” (ibid.)
“The world in which you live is not primarily determined by outward conditions and circumstances but by thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Remember the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, one of the great thinkers of antiquity, who said, 'A man's life is what his thoughts make of it.'
“It has been said that the wisest man who ever lived in America was Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Sage of Concord. Emerson declared, 'A man is what he thinks about all day long.'
“A famous psychologist says, 'There is a deep tendency in human nature to become precisely like that which you habitually imagine yourself to be.'
“It has been said that thoughts are things, that they actually possess dynamic power. Judged by the power they exercise one can readily accept such an appraisal. You can actually think yourself into or out of situations. You can make yourself ill with your thoughts and by the same token you can make yourself well by the use of a different and healing type of thought. Think one way and you attract the conditions which that type of thinking indicates. Think another way and you can create an entirely different set of conditions. Conditions are created by thoughts far more powerfully than conditions create thoughts.”
Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Think ing.
I give you here concrete principles which you can use to improve your life in any aspect or on the whole. You can test these as much as you want, they belong to no author as his sacrosanct copyright; they were observed by Plato and Aristotle and many thinkers since. That this Western world has isolated a few of these as important enough to re-publish, re-sell and re-distribute long after their authors have returned to dust is the highest validation of them as basic and true, useful principles for self-improvement.
There are perhaps no factual limits to what can be accomplished in using these principles. Logically, one could see that there are no real barriers to thought and imagination, so conceivably no limit to what could be accomplished in the physical universe.
Even while Haanel above points out that one cannot change another for him, while Wattles warns not to get into occult practices in an effort to change another against their will, Peale also tells us a story where a woman restored her marriage and avoided divorce through the above principles, Covey tells of deciding to handle a disruptive conflict he was having for months with an associate – only to find that the associate wanted to handle it as well. One doesn't know what another wants particularly, but by the tools above – visualization, faith, prayer, action – many, many intersocial and intercultural affairs can be resolved. One doesn't know that the other doesn't want to change or improve – your work would minimally give them that chance.
Several of the authors (Haanel, Peale, Wattles) say to think and visualize as big as you can, that these make the smaller problems fall away as insignificant. With the application of the principle involved in the “Master Mind,” a wide association of individuals with the common ideal will achieve many, widespread – even global effects. One such example is the view of Human Rights, which started with Locke, Jefferson and the Founding Fathers, then was spread through the globe due to the efforts of the United States UN delegate, Eleanor Roosevelt, who drafted and got agreement from other delegates enough to sign it into a UN resolution – all from her New York apartment. Now this is a held standard across the globe, defended and advanced with economic sanctions to those spineless dicto-crats who insist on violating it. One by one, these countries are being forced to accede to this thought, this vision which is shared now by so many internationally.
It is my personal hope that within our own lifetimes we might see world peace. Certainly if the principles that these authors and their reading public found so useful were spread across this globe, the planet and its culture would be a more positive, less strife-driven place. Peace would then be possible, with a decent standard of living and defended liberties for every single member of humankind. But it is up to you and I to carry this torch and to forward these ideals and bring them to real substance.
That is why this stuff is important.