Prosperity Chapter X

What Discouragement Does To You, And How To Cure It

Prosperity Chapter X: 

Someone says: "Discouragement hides God's means and methods." It does more. It hides God himself; it blots out of sight about everything that is helpful and friendly to us. It paralyzes our ability, our courage, our self-confidence; it destroys our efficiency and cuts down the effectiveness of every one of our faculties.

Every physician knows how discouragement affects the cure of a patient, — delays it, and often makes it impossible. The sick man who is cheerful, hopeful of his restoration to health, has ten chances to one for recovery compared with the one who is blue and despondent.

prosperity quotes

"Never make a decision when downhearted. Never let the weak side of your nature take control.”

Discouragement breaks the spirit, and when a man's spirit is broken he has no heart for anything. He is beaten in life's battle. A broken spirit, the loss of hope and courage, causes more failures, more suicides, more insanity, than almost anything else.

I wish it were possible to show victims of discouragement what it does to them — how it destroys their morale, and tears down what they have built up in their creative, hopeful moments.

Only a short time ago I read the story of a fine young man who became the victim of discouragement. After losing his position, during a period of business depression, this man would start out every morning to hunt for another; and every night he would come home disappointed, but, for a long time, not discouraged, always believing that he would ultimately get a job.

This had been going on for weeks, when one night he was late in returning, and his wife, watching at the window until it was too dark to see any more, drew down the shades and tried in busying herself with house-wifely tasks to dispel the sudden feeling of anxiety that gripped her.

When her husband came an hour later, she noticed that some depressing influence seemed to have been working upon him; that he was not quite as hopeful as he had been. She cheered him up as usual, gave him his supper, encouraged him in every possible way, and sent him to bed comforted. Next morning he tried to talk hopefully, and when he was ready to start for the city, assured her that he was going to do his best. But it was evident he didn't feel quite as sure of himself, quite as self-confident, as he had been.

Watching at the window for his return that evening, the faithful wife was surprised to see that he was not alone. A shadowy, sinister figure was at his side, talking very earnestly to him. It accompanied him to the gate and then suddenly vanished.

The next evening the same sinister figure walked at his side, and the look of despair on the man's face frightened her. The third evening the wife waited and watched until long after dark, but no husband came. Numb with fear, she sat through the long night at the window, where she kept a light burning until daylight, but no husband, and no word from him, came to her.

As soon as life began to stir in the neighborhood she went out for a morning paper, and the first item that caught her eye was the suicide of a man who had thrown himself into the river and was drowned. Filled with foreboding, she rushed to the morgue where the newspaper stated the body had been taken, and there her fears were verified. The body of the drowned man was that of her husband.

The young man had toward the end become so discouraged by the hideous pictures his doubts and fears threw upon the screen of his mind that he became mentally unbalanced, and in despair ended his life. In those last days discouragement was so persistently at his side, telling him it was no use looking for a job, that he would never get one, that it was visualized by him as a reality, and actually became visible to the sensitive, sympathetic eyes of his wife.

"You are not capable of correct judgment when fear or doubt or despondency is in your mind."

- O.S. Marden

Right now I know a number of people who are so depressed and demoralized by pessimistic, discouraged thinking, that they are seriously endangering their future success and the happiness of their whole lives. Because they are temporarily out of employment, discouragement has taken hold of them and filled their minds with such black, depressing pictures that they go about as do the insane in the beautiful grounds allotted to them.

They see only the gloomy mental world their thoughts have constructed, and are unaware of the bright, cheerful, sunlit world all around them. They are, in fact, temporarily insane, because all mental depression, whatever the immediate cause, is in some degree mental derangement, the confusion and unhappiness which are always the results of wrong thinking.

It is well known that worry and discouragement cause chemical changes in the body, which actually produce chemical poisons.

These poisons lower the resisting power of both body and mind and leave the sufferer a prey to all sorts of unfortunate results. There are multitudes of people today in poor health and in poor circumstances, plodding along in discontent and unhappiness, when they might be happy and doing superb things were they not the victims of discouraging conditions, conditions which are largely the result of their fear and worry.

Their minds are out of joint, unhinged, and unfit for the work of today, because they are divided between looking forward to the future, anticipating all sorts of evils and misfortunes, and looking backward to the past, regretting whatever they had or had not done.

""You can't do it!" keeps more people with splendid ability in mediocrity than almost any other thing. "You can't do it!" meets you everywhere in life. At every turn you propose to take, you will find someone to warn you away, to tell you not to take that road, that it will lead to disaster. To avoid a sad fate, you must maintain an iron will and a determination which never wavers." 

- Orison Swett Marden

Prosperity Chapter X , continued...

One of the saddest things in my work is the cry of unhappiness that comes to me from people who have lost their courage and ambition. They write me that they have ruined their careers, and that all they can do now is to live on in a very hopeless and unhappy way. "Oh, if I hadn't quit in a moment of discouragement!" they wail: "If I hadn't yielded to homesickness and left college!" "If I had only stuck to my trade, to my law practice, to my engineering work a little longer, until success came to me; if I had only kept on, how different things would be today! But I lost heart, got blue and discouraged and decided to try something easier. I have never been happy or satisfied with myself since I played the coward and turned back, but it is too late to make a change."

There are millions of people in inferior or mediocre positions today who might be doing big things had they not yielded to discouragement at the start and ruined the promise of their lives. 

prosperity quote

Nine-tenths of the men and women in the great failure army are there because they were not prepared to meet obstacles, setbacks, and were frightened when they confronted them. They didn't have the vision that sees beyond obstacles and holds on in spite of unexpected difficulties, disappointments, and reverses.

Some people are always at home to the "blues." They are, as Carlyle says, "rich in the power to be miserable." I know a woman whose mind is so adjusted to despondency and discouragement that a very little thing brings on a fit of the "blues." She seems to be always ready to receive the whole blues family, and the first one that gets admission to her mind drags in his relatives, — discouragement, despondency, despair, fear, worry, and all the rest. They hold her in thrall for days together, driving out everything else, all happiness, courage, confidence, her very sanity.

Indulgence in the "blues," in morbid, despondent moods, is dangerous to character development and success. After a while it becomes a settled habit, a disease, and every little setback, every little disappointment, throws the sufferer off his balance, kills his enthusiasm and his zest for work, lowers his efficiency and, for the time being, his ability. In the end it acts like creeping paralysis and robs him of all initiative, all power and energy, all desire even to do.

I am acquainted with a man whose habitual despondency has starved and stunted his whole life. He is a striking illustration of the destructive power of unhappy thoughts. He gives one the impression of great possibilities never expressed. His forces are shut up within him. He is always full of fear, worry, and anxiety. Discouragement envelops him like a mantle. His attitude, his manner, his expression, his speech, all indicate a shrinking and shriveling, an impotence which is due to his unfortunate moods.

He is discontented, restless, unhappy, suffering from the sense of a thwarted ambition, and although he has worked very hard all his life his morbid mentality and discouraged outlook have cut down his efficiency more than fifty percent, and left him way behind where a man of his natural ability should be.

One of the marks of a strong soul, one who is anchored in faith, is the ability to conquer discouragement, melancholia, the "blues," all tendencies to cowardice and self-pity. No matter what happens, what obstacles or trials push such souls back, or for a time press them down, they never lose hope or give way under disappointments and failures. It is not that they do not feel those things, but that they will not suffer them to turn them aside from their purpose, to defeat their ambition.

Now the greatest obstacles to our success are in our minds, and there is no one so weak that he cannot overcome the most destructive enemy thoughts by the application of mental chemistry; that is, by calling to his aid the antidotes for the enemy thoughts, and training his mind to face the light instead of the darkness.

A discouraging, despondent thought can instantly be neutralized by a courageous, hopeful thought, just as an acid can instantly be neutralized by an alkali.

The mental law is as scientific as the physical. We cannot hold two opposite thoughts in the mind at the same time, one neutralizes or drives out the other. We can always crowd out a negative, destructive fear thought, by persistently holding in mind its opposite, — a positive, courageous, constructive thought.

"Whistling to keep up courage is no mere figure of speech," said William James, the great psychologist. "On the other hand, sit all day in a moping posture, sigh and reply to everything in a dismal voice and your melancholy lingers." That is, by our thoughts and acts we can draw to ourselves courage or discouragement. In other words, we can change our mental attitude as we will; and to change our thought is to change our condition.

"Have you the grit and pluck to stand all sorts of discouragement? If you can do this you are a winner. Nothing can hold you back from your goal."

For instance, if you are looking for a job and don't find one; if you have had reverses, and don't know where your next dollar is coming from; if you are a round peg in a square hole; if you have made mistakes; if for any reason you are discouraged and tempted to retreat before the enemy, instead of going about with a defeated, gloomy, despondent air, turn about face at once and assume the attitude of a victor in life.

Say to yourself: "God did not create any man to be a failure. He gave to all his children qualities that command success, each in his own field. All we need is to use them. I am success-organized, because I partake of the attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Omnipotent One. I will now use the divine power within me to do the thing I want to do; to get the position I desire; to satisfy all my needs. Failure cannot come near me. I am a success now, because I am one with All-Power."

Resolutely hold this mental attitude, and you will be surprised to find what courage it will give you, and how your difficulties will wilt before it.

General Foch says that a lost battle is a battle you think you can't win. Multitudes of battles have been won by the persistent determination of a single general who had not given up hope when all others had.

"You are beaten; this army is not beaten," has ever been the reply of great generals to the discouraged one who wanted to give up the battle as lost. It is the Joifres, the Fochs, the Grants, the men of indomitable faith and courage, who have ever wrung victory from defeat.

All down through history glorious victories have been won, not by masses of men, but by single individuals who had superb courage, a mighty faith in themselves and in their undertaking, an unflinching determination to succeed. In innumerable instances such brave souls had saved the day when their comrades had given up because they saw nothing but defeat, where the will to conquer had seen only victory.

There is somebody not far from you at this moment, my doubting, discouraged friend, who could step into your place and command victory with the resources which you think so inadequate for the work you have to do. There is somebody who has no more ability than you have who could see an unusual opportunity in the situation which you find so hopeless, so discouraging.

A great scientist said that when he encountered what seemed an unconquerable obstacle he invariably found himself upon the brink of some important discovery. The time above all others when it is most important for a man to hold fast to his faith and courage is when the way is so dark that he cannot see ahead.

If you push on toward your goal when everything seems going against you, when doubt and discouragement are doing their best to make you give up, turn back, turn coward and quitter, then is the time when "you are closer to victory than you dream of.

If you never lose your conviction in your divine God-given power to win out in spite of handicaps or any obstacles that may arise in your path, nothing can defeat you, because you are in conscious partnership with Omnipotence.


I am the great paralyzer of ability, the murderer of aspiration and ambition, the destroyer of energy, the killer of opportunity.

I am the cause of more suffering, more human misery and loss, more tragedies and wretchedness than any other one thing.

I have cursed more human beings, arrested the development of more fine ability, strangled more genius and stifled more talent than anything else in the world.

I have shortened vast multitudes of lives and sent more people to the insane asylum, to crime and suicide than men dream of.

I cause chemical changes in the brain which cripple efficiency and ruin careers.

I deprive human beings of more things that are good for them, things that fit their nature, and that they were intended to enjoy, than any other one agent.

I cause men and women to wear poor, shabby clothes, to look dejected and forlorn, when it is the right of every human being to look up, to be well-dressed, attractive, and happy. I shut out the sun of hope and cause men to see everything in a distorted light because I make them look on the shadow side of things.

I devitalize people and make chronic invalids of men and women who should be enjoying perfect health.

I am the devil's most effective instrument. If he can once get the bare suggestion of me into the human consciousness at the psychological moment, he can work destruction to the most ambitious, the greatest genius.

I starve and stunt minds, and keep vast multitudes of people in ignorance.

I usually attack a man when he is down, when things have gone wrong, and he is feeling blue. When he is tired, fatigued, devitalized, I find an easy entrance to his mind, because then his courage is not so keen, his brain is not so alert, and he has less dare in his nature.

I find that the best time to work on my victims is in the afternoon. In the morning men are too vigorous mentally, have too much vitality and energy, too much courage, to give in to me, but along in the afternoon when the body and brain begin to weary of work, and the whole man feels a bit fagged, I can tackle the great mental scheme which was in the forefront of the brain in the forenoon, when the faculties were clean-cut, and unless my victim is alert I soon have him under my control.

I am the greatest human deceiver. Once I get into the mind, I can make a giant believe he is a pygmy, and of no account. I can cut down his self-respect until in his own estimation he is a very ordinary man.

I have a twin brother, Doubt, who is called the great traitor. He is always ready to help me to finish my little game. We work together, and when under our control it is impossible for a man to be resourceful, original, or effective.

I creep into a man's mind after he has resolved to branch out on new lines, to step out from the beaten path and blaze his own way, and weaken his ardor, dampen his enthusiasm, and make him feel inefficient and helpless. I whisper in his ear, "Go slow; better be careful. Many abler men than you have fallen down trying to do that very thing. It is not the time to start this thing; you had better wait, wait, wait."

I haven't a single redeeming thing in my nature, and yet I have more influence with the human race than has any one of the finer, nobler qualities which help to bring man up to the height of his possibilities.


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