It’s no disgrace to be born in poverty. But it is most decidedly a disgrace for anyone to accept the condition permanently. Even physical handicaps can’t hold down the man or woman who is determined to win through to success. That’s been proved time and again by persons such as Helen Keller and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Poverty actually may offer potential benefits if it goads a person into action to fight his way up the economic ladder. And it certainly offers spiritual benefits in the way of humility and sympathy toward others. Both poverty and riches consist largely of a state of mind. In the course of decades of research into the causes of success or failure, I discovered what I call the “law of harmonious attraction” – the tendency of thoughts to transform themselves into their kindred material counterparts.
Thoughts of poverty attract circumstances that lead inevitably to more poverty. But concentration on positive thoughts of riches and a better life will lead you toward ways of reaching those goals. Look about you. We live in the wealthiest country on earth. You can name dozens of persons far wealthier than you although they aren’t as clever, no better educated, and had no more advantages at birth. As the old saying goes—“It’s not what you have but what you do with it.”
Poverty is like creeping paralysis. It destroys individuality and strips a person of ambition and initiative in addition to causing him to abandon hope and succumb to fear.
When I was a very young boy I heard a dramatic speech on poverty by my stepmother a few days after she married my father and discovered the conditions we lived under in our mountain cabin in Wise Country, Va. It made a lasting impression on me.
“This place we call a home,” she told my father, “is a disgrace to all of us and a handicap to our children. If we stay here and accept this poverty, our children will grow up and accept it too.”
“No matter how long it takes, or what sacrifices we have to make, I intend that our children shall have an education and better themselves. I don’t know for the moment just when or how we’ll make the break from this daily reminder of poverty. But I know we’re going to make it.”
And she did make it! Somehow she scraped up tuition to send my father to Louisville Dental College so that he ultimately because one of the best-known dentists in Southwest Virginia.
Then she moved up from our mountain home to the county seat of Wise, Va., into a tidy, comfortable home where her three children and my father’s two boys live while they got an education.
She bought a typewriter and taught me to use it when I was 13. Within a year she had me working as “mountain reporter” for a dozen small newspapers.
It was the inspirational guidance of this woman, refusing to accept poverty, that helped influence me to accept Andrew Carnegie’s assignment to begin organising the Science of Success.
You can start lifting yourself from the depths of poverty today. Start by choosing a definite major goal and laying out a plan for achieving it in a specified period of time. Then begin putting your plan into action immediately, backing it with complete faith that anything is possible if you are determined to make it happen.
Source: Success Unlimited. January 1963. Vol. X, No.1. Pgs. 27-28.