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好文章 Would you Take a Million Dollars for What you Have?


Would you Take a Million Dollars for What you Have?

   I have known Harold Abbott for years.  He lived in Webb City, Missouri. He used to  be my lecture manager.  One day he and I met in Kansas City and he drove me down to my farm at Belton, Missouri.  During that drive, I asked him how he kept from worrying and he told me an inspiring story that I shall never forget.     

    “I  used to worry a lot,” he said, “but one spring day in 1934, I was walking down West Dougherty Street in Webb City when I saw a sight that banished all my worries.  It all happened in ten seconds, but during those ten seconds I learned more about how to live than I had learned in the previous ten years.  For two years I had been running a grocery store in Webb City.  I had not only lost all my savings, but I had incurred debts that took me seven years to pay back.  My grocery store had been closed the previous Saturday; and now I was going to the Merchants and Miners Bank to borrow money so I could go to Kansas City to look for a job.  I walked like a beaten man.  I had lost all my fight and faith.  Then suddenly I saw coming down the street a man who had no legs.  He was sitting on a little wooden platform equipped with wheels from roller skates.  He propelled himself along the street with a block of wood in each hand.  I met him just after he had crossed the street and was starting to lift himself up a few inches over the curb to the sidewalk.  As he tilted his little wooden platform to an angle, his eyes met mine.  He greeted me with a grand smile. “Good morning, sir.  It is a fine morning, isn’t it?”  he said with spirit.  As I stood looking at him, I realized how rich I was.  I had two legs.  I could walk. I felt ashamed of my self-pity.  I said to myself, if he can be happy, cheerful, and confident without legs, I certainly can with legs.  I could already feel my chest lifting.  I had intended to ask the Merchants and Miners Bank for only one hundred dollars.  But now I had courage to ask for two hundred. I had intended to say that I wanted to go to Kansas City to try to get a job.  But now I announced confidently that I wanted to go to Kansas City to get a job.  I got the loan; and I got the job.

    I now have the following words pasted on my bathroom mirror, and I read them every morning as I shave:

 I had the blues because I had no shoes,
Until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.
    I once asked Eddie Rickenbacker what was the biggest lesson he had learned from drifting about with his companions in life rafts for twenty-one days, hopelessly lost in the Pacific.  “ The biggest lesson I learned from that experience,” He said, “was that if you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you want to eat, you ought never to complain about anything.

    Time ran an article about a sergeant who had been wound on Guadalcanal. Hit in the throat by a shell fragment, this sergeant had had seven blood transfusions. Writing a note to his doctor, he asked:  “Will I live?”  The doctor replied:  “Yes.” He wrote another note, asking, “Will I be able to talk?”  Again the answer was yea.  He then wrote another note, saying “Then what in the hell am I worrying about?”

    Why don’t you stop right now and ask yourself probably find that it is comparatively unimportant and insignificant.

    About ninety percent of the things in our lives are right and about ten percent are wrong.  If we want to be happy, all we  have to do is to concentrate on the ninety percent that are right and ignore the ten percent that are wrong.  If we want to be worried and bitter and have stomach ulcers, all we have to do is to concentrate on the ten percent that are wrong and ignore the ninety percent that are glorious.

    The words “”Think of all we have to be grateful for and thank God for all our boons and bounties.

    Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s travels, was the most devastating pessimist in English Literature.  He was so  sorry that he had been born that he wore black and fasted on his birthdays; yet, in his despair, this supreme pessimist of English literature praised the great health-giving powers of cheerfulness and happiness.  “The best doctors in the world,” he declared, “are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet, and Doctor Merryman.”

    You and I may have the services of “Doctor Merryman” free every day by keeping our attention fixed on all the incredible riches we possess-riches 
exceeding by far the fabled treasures of Ali Baba.  Would you sell your eyes for a billion dollars? What would you take for your two legs? Your hands/ Your hearing? Your children? Your family? Add up your assets, and you will find that you won’t sell what you have for all the gold ever amassed by the Rockefellers, the Fords, and the Morgans combined.

    But do we appreciate all this? Ah, no.  As Schopenhauer said: “ We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack.”   Yes, the tendency to “seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack” is the greatest tragedy on earth.  It has probably caused more misery than all the wars and diseases in history.

      It caused John Palmer to turn “ from a regular guy into an old grouch,” and almost wrecked his home.  I know because he told me so.

      Mr. Palmer lived in Paterson, New Jersey, “Shortly after I returned from the Army,” he said, “ I started in business for myself.  I worked hard day and night. Things were going nicely. Then trouble started.  I could not get  parts and materials.  I was afraid I would have to give up my business.  I worried so much that I changed from a regular guy into an old grouch.  I became so sour and cross that- well, I didn’t know it then but I now realize that I came very near to losing my happy home.  Then one day a young, disabled veteran who works for me said, “ Johnny, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.  You take on as if you were the only person in the world with troubles.  Suppose you do have to shut up shop for a while-so what? You can start up again when things get normal.  You’ve got a lot to be thankful for.  Yet you are always groling.  Boy, how I wish I were in your shoes! Look at me.  I’ve got only one arm, and half of my face is shot away, and yet I am not complaining; if you don’t stop your growling and grumbling, you will lose not only your business, but also
your  health, your home, and your friends!.

     “Those remarks stopped me dead in my tracks. They made me realize hos well off I was.  I resolved then and there that I would change and be my old self again-and I did “

     A friend of mine, Lucile Black, had to tremble on the edge of tragedy before she learned to be happy about what she had instead of worrying over what she lacked.

     I met Lucile years ago, when we were both studying short-story writing in the Columbia University School of Journalism.  Some years ago, she got the shock of her life.  She was living then in Tucson, Arizona.  She had-well, here is the story as she told it to me:

     “I had been living in a whirl: studying the organ at the University of Arizona, conducting a speech clinic in town, and teaching a class in musical appreciation at the Desert Willow Ranch, where I was staying.  I was going in for parties, dances, horseback rides under the stars.  One morning I collapsed.  My heart!  ‘You will have to lie in bed for a year of complete rest,’ the doctor said.  He didn’t encourage me to believe I would ever be strong again.

     “ In bed for a year!  To be an invalid-perhaps to die! I was terror-stricken! Why did all this have to happen to me? What had I done to deserve it? I wept and wailed.  I was bitter and rebellious.  But  I did go to bed as the doctor advised.  A neighbor of mine, Mr. Rudolf, an artist, said to me, ‘you think now that spending a year in bed will be a tragedy.  But it won’t be.  You will have time to think and get acquainted with yourself.  You will make more spiritual growth in these few months than you have made during all your previous life.’ I became calmer, and tried to develop a new sense of values.  I read books of inspiration.  One day I heard a radio commentator say: ‘You can express only what is in your own consciousness.’ I had heard words like these many times before, but now they reached down inside me and took root. I resolved to think only the thoughts I wanted to live by: thoughts of joy, happiness, health.  I forced myself each morning, as soon as I awoke, to go over all the things I had to be grateful for.  No pain.  A lovely young daughter.  My eyesight.  My hearing.  Lovely music on the radio.  Time to read.  Good food.  Good friends.  I was so cheerful and had so many visitors that the doctor put up a sign saying that only one visitor at a time would be allowed in my cabin-and only at certain hours.

     Many years have passed since then, and I now lead a full, active life.  I am deeply grateful now for that year I spent in bed. It was the most valuable and the happiest year I spent in Arizona.  The habit I formed then of counting my blessings each morning still remains with me.  It is one of my most precious possessions.  I am ashamed to realize that I never really learned to live until I feared I was going to die.”

     My dear Lucile Blake, you may not realize it, but you learned the same lesson that Dr. Samuel Johnson learned two hundred years ago. “The habit of looking on the best side of every event.” said Dr. Johnson, “is worth more than a thousand pounds a year.”

     Those words were uttered, mind you, not by a professional optimist, but by a man who had known anxiety, rags, and hunger for twenty years-and finally became one of the most eminent writers of his generation and the most celebrated conversationalist of all time.

      Logan Pearsall Smith packed a lot of wisdom into a few words when he said : “There are two things to aim at in life; first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it.  Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.  “

     Would you like to know how to make even dishwashing at the kitchen sink a thrilling experience? If so, read an inspiring book of incredible courage by Borghild Dahl.  It is called I Wanted to See.
     This book was written by a woman who was practically blind for half a century . “I had only one eye.” she writes, “ and it was so covered with dense scars that I had to do all my seeing through one small opening in the left of the eye.  I could see a book only by holding it up close to my face and by straining my one eye as hard as I could to the left.

     But she refused to be Pitied, refused to be considered “different.” As a child, she wanted to play hopscotch with other children, but she couldn’t see the markings.  So after the other children had gone home, she got down on the ground and crawled along with her eyes near the marks.  She memorized every bit of the ground where she and her friends played and soon became an expert at running games.  She did her reading at home, holding a book of large print so close to her eyes that her eyelashes brushed the pages.  She earned two college degrees: an A.B. from the University of Minnesota and Master of Arts from Columbia University.

     She started teaching in the tiny village of Twin Valley, Minnesota, and rose until she became professor of journalism and literature at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  She taught there for thirteen years, lecturing before women’s club and giving radio talks about books and authors.  “In the back of my mind,” she writes, “there had always lurked a fear of total blindness.  In order to overcome this, I had adopted a cheerful, almost hilarious, attitude toward life.”

     Then in 1943, when she was fifty-two years old, a miracle happened: an operation at the famous Mayo Clinic.  She could now see forty times as well as she had ever been able to see before.

     A new and exciting world of loveliness opened before her.  She now found it thrilling even to wash dishes in the kitchen sink.  “I began to play with the white fluffy suds in the dishpan,” she writes.  “ I dip my hands into them and I pick up a ball of tiny soap bubbles.  I hold them up against the light, and in each of them  I can see the brilliant colors of a miniature rainbow.

     As she looked through the window above the kitchen sink, she saw ‘the flapping gray-black wings of the sparrows flying through the thick, falling snow.”

     She found such ecstasy looking at the soap bubbles and sparrows that she closed here book with these words:  “‘Dear Lord’  I whisper, ‘Our Father in Heaven, I thank Thee.  I thank Thee.’ ”

     Image thanking God because you can wash dishes and see rainbows in bubbles and sparrows flying through the snow!

     You and I ought to be ashamed of ourselves.  All the days of our years we have been living in a fairyland of beauty, but we have been too blind to see, too satiated to enjoy.

   If you want to stop worrying and start living, remember…….

                    Count your blessings- not  your troubles!