I find it harder to go straight in life than to go under fire.” We are “under fire” all our lives, and the real hero is the one who keeps straight on in spite of discouragements and disappointments, never losing one jot of heart or courage, never giving way to despair, trusting always in the Divine Power that will lead him to his goal.
Discouragement is one of the greatest of human enemies. It is an unmitigated curse. It has done more to dwarf the efforts of the race, has thwarted more careers, stunted and starved more lives, ruined more creative power than any other one agent. It is a disease that is well-nigh universal in some form. Everybody suffers more or less from it and is the victim of its poison. It bombards us from within and without. There are always plenty of people who will attack you from without, who will see reasons why you will not succeed in your undertaking, who will tell you that it is impossible to overcome the obstacles in your way, and unless you have a sublime faith in yourself and a resolution which knows no retreat, which takes no backward steps, you are likely to become discouraged and then sidetracked.
Discouragement, however, comes most frequently from within, and causes more poverty and crime than almost any other one thing. It is an indirect producer of poverty, because it paralyzes ability and blights efficiency. A person is in no position to produce anything when his mind is full of doubt and fear. When suffering from discouragement one’s whole being is negative, demoralized. Courage, the leader of the mental faculties, is paralyzed, and the judgment is not sound. No man is level headed when he is discouraged or blue. He is in no condition to look squarely at an issue, because his reasoning powers are dulled and his enthusiasm is dampened. In other words, there is anarchy in the whole mental kingdom and, until the order is restored and courage again leads the way, the faculties will not respond with their best.
Time and again it has been found that people who lost heart under fire were just this side of victory over their difficulties when they threw down their weapons and gave up the battle in despair. How often has a letter or a telephone call with good news that would have heartened and encouraged a discouraged person to fight on, come just after the sufferer had ended it all! How often has a friend bearing relief come just after the irrevocable deed had been done! Yet we continue to read daily in the newspapers of people, young and old, who lose faith and commit suicide because of failure in business, loss of property, loss of friends, trouble in the home, disappointment in love for a thousand and one reasons. But they may nearly all be summed up under the one head – discouragement.
Discouragement is much worse than any disease because it so often unbalances the sufferer and drives him to crime, or to drink and consequent failure and misery.
Victims of discouragement little realize the tremendous damage they are doing to themselves when they allow this fatal enemy of their happiness, and their efficiency, to get lodgment in their mind. Nobody does good work when discouraged. There is no spontaneity in it, no resourcefulness, no inventiveness, no originality, and no enthusiasm. It is mechanical, life-less. The moment you yield to discouragement all your mental faculties become depressed. You lose power. Your initiative is paralyzed, your executive ability strangled. You are in no condition to do anything effectively. Your whole mentality is placed at a tremendous disadvantage, and until this enemy is driven out of your mind, neutralized by the affirmation and the contemplation of its opposites of courage, cheer, hope, and a vigorous expectation of splendid things to come you are in no condition to do good work.
Every suggestion of discouragement, of fear of failure, is a destructive force, and in the degree that we allow ourselves to be influenced by it will it tear down and retard our life processes, our life work. It will darken the mind and cause one to make fatally wrong decisions, to take steps which may ruin one’s happiness, one’s whole life.
We know that time heals the deepest sorrows, and that physical and mental ills pass away, and that the brave soul is the one that adapts itself to the storms and sunshine of life. Just as on a tropical summer day when the sun is suddenly blotted out of the heavens and the whole sky is so blackened by a sudden storm that we are obliged to light our homes and offices, and presently the clouds pass as quickly as they came and the sun blazes forth in all its glory just as though nothing had happened, so there come times in our lives when everything appears black and threatening, and then, suddenly, just as in nature, all becomes serene again.
The great thing for us to keep in mind when a life storm breaks is that, no matter how violent, it is only temporary and that behind the clouds the sun is always shining. The new philosophy helps us to conquer discouragement by putting the emphasis on the right things, the things that are worthwhile. This is why we generally do not go to pieces when we happen to fail in our vocation. We have learned that material things are not the first essentials. We know that the great emphasis should be placed upon the life, the reality of man, which is divine.