Back in the year 1690, about two and three-quarter centuries ago, a wise gentleman by the name of John Locke wrote an essay on human understanding.
In that essay, he said something I think all of us should remember:
“There seems to be a constant decay of all our ideas; even of those which are struck deepest and in minds the most retentive. So that if they be not sometimes renewed by repeated exercises of the senses or reflection on those kinds of objects which at first occasioned them, the print wears out and at least there remains nothing to be seen.”
He was saying that we need reminding, from time to time; of our personal philosophies, of the things in which we believe and which mean so much to us in living successfully. If we’re not reminded, we tend to forget. And gradually these truths, on which a successful life can be built, fade out until, finally, they disappear completely.
Just for example, let’s take the single most important and unchanging law which lies as the supporting structure of our lives. Whether it’s successfully running a business, a home, a family, or a solitary life. Simply stated, it is that our rewards in life will be in exact proportion to our service.
That is, we can determine how much we are contributing to the world by examining the rewards we are receiving from the world.
I think this is one of those great truths of which we should be reminded at regular intervals. Understanding it fully will take a lot of confusion, doubt, and more than a little frustration out of the lives of millions of people.
You can compare a human life to a plot of land — the yard in front of your home. Anyone can, by simply driving past the house, tell by looking at the front yard how much attention it’s being given. There is no such thing as a poor-looking yard that’s getting a lot of care and attention. Similarly, there is not, in all the world, a bad-looking plot of ground that’s getting a lot of care and attention. If we take an average sort of lackadaisical attitude toward our grounds, they’ll reflect exactly that — and never get a second glance from anyone passing by.
It’s the same exact thing with life. We’ll get back, we must get back, exactly what we put into it — no more, no less.
If we don’t like the rewards we’re receiving, we should examine our service, our contribution.
Now, I’m sure everyone will agree with this paraphrasing of the Golden Rule — when you remind them of it! But how about in-between times? Isn’t it a fact that, even after we’re forcibly brought to see this wonderful opportunity to get just about anything we want from life, it gradually begins to fade from our consciousness?
As John Locke put it: “There seems to be a constant decay of all our ideas; even of those which are struck deepest and in minds most retentive…”
I think it’s a very good idea for every human being to ask himself, “What am I contributing to those with whom I come in contact?
“Am I giving all that I can — am I doing as much as I can — and in a cheerful, helpful spirit? Or am I going at my daily life in an average, or even below average, manner?”
If you’re tremendously pleased with the results you’re getting from life — you’re giving a lot. If you’re not too pleased, well, you might think about it.
Every great law of life, like a coin, has two sides.
If we work with these laws, we’ll reap the benefits and rewards; if we try to work contrary to them, it will be to our cost — we cannot win.