Wisdom of Life

Andrew Carnegie: The Meaning of Life — The Man of Wealth and Wisdom

“Men are developed the same way gold is mined.

When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold;

but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt—one goes in looking for the gold.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes. A man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled. Every act you have ever performed since the day you were born was because you wanted something. Aim for the highest and when it’s a question of God’s almighty spirit — never say I can’t.

Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. Aim for the highest; never enter a bar-room; do not touch liquor, or if at all only at meals; never speculate; never indorse beyond your surplus cash fund; make the firm’s interest yours; break orders always to save owners; concentrate; put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket; expenditure always within revenue; lastly, be not impatient, for, as Emerson says, “no one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourselves“.

People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents. When fate hands us a lemon, let’s try to make lemonade. All human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.

He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave. Perhaps the most tragic thing about mankind is that we are all dreaming about some magical garden over the horizon, instead of enjoying the roses that are right outside today.

The result of my journey was to bring a certain mental peace. Where there had been chaos there was now order. My mind was at rest. I had a philosophy at last. The words of Christ “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” had a new meaning for me. Not in the past or in the future, but now and here is Heaven within us. All our duties lie in this world and in the present, and trying impatiently to peer into that which lies beyond is as vain as fruitless.

Man does not live by bread alone. I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich. There is no class so pitiably wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. Exalted beyond this, as it sometimes is, it remains Caliban still and still plays the beast. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine be it to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring into the lives of the toilers of Pittsburgh sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.

This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of wealth: To set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent on him; and, after doing so, to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgement, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community–the man of wealth thus becoming the mere trustee and agent for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.

No man becomes rich unless he enriches others. Do real and permanent good in this world. The man who dies rich, dies disgraced.

Humanity is an organism, inherently rejecting all that is deleterious, that is, wrong, and absorbing after trial what is beneficial, that is, right. If so disposed, the Architect of the Universe, we must assume, might have made the world and man perfect, free from evil and from pain, as angels in heaven are thought to be; but although this was not done, man has been given the power of advancement rather than of retrogression. The Old and New Testaments remain, like other sacred writings of other lands, of value as records of the past and for such good lessons as they inculcate. Like the ancient writers of the Bible our thoughts should rest upon this life and our duties here. “To perform the duties of this world well, troubling not about another, is the prime wisdom,” says Confucius, great sage and teacher. The next world and its duties we shall consider when we are placed in it.

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do. I don’t believe in God. My God is patriotism. Teach a man to be a good citizen and you have solved the problem of life. Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself.”

Excerpts from The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

***

~Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, and philanthropist. Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest Americans in history. He became a leading philanthropist in the United States and in the British Empire.

Excellence Reporter 2020

Categories: Wisdom of Life

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