Change of Heart

Retaining in Rememberence

The words of Dale Carnegie always have the immense capability of cutting through the noise of our daily existence and concisely summarizing some of the most important of human conditions.

Encourage others. Don’t tear them down. Never tell someone they’re wrong. See things from another perspective. What’s the common theme in all these? Be as nice to people as you possibly can. Why? Because the alternative can be very sad.

And so why do these things seem so revelatory to those reading them for the first time? When Carnegie’s original book has been in print for 80 years or more, when the very individuals he cites in formulating his rock-solid reasoning lived and taught the same principles he’s teaching thousands of years earlier?

I believe it’s because in Carnegie’s effort to outline, concisely and inspiringly, the most important practices we can develop in order to have more fulfilling lives, he knowingly or perhaps unknowingly named with exactness the things, which, for us as humans, are the hardest, the least natural.

We are wired with a “default setting,” in the words of writer David Foster Wallace, “to be the main characters in our own stories and to live in a world which revolves around our actions.”

So how can we ever implement what Carnegie, along with the best, most influential thinkers in history told us, if we are so naturally wired to look for personal benefit, to gratify our desires and passions?

It’s a change of heart. That’s all it is. That’s all it ever can be. Any less will be too hard. We will give up trying to help other people get what they want, trying to help other people feel better, if we are waiting and waiting and waiting to see the payoff.

It will be hard to let go. We may look at it with certain hopes, saying, “I know this will be hard, but it will be worth it in the end.” This thinking has a certain nobility in it, but still does not arrive at the fullest degree of a change of heart.

As a full time missionary, I worked harder and longer than I had ever worked in my life. It was a mental hill which I was climbing, and at the hardest times I would hold fast to the hope of one day being able to rest — the prize at the end. But as time went on a realization began to take hold in my mind. There would be no rest. In this life or after.

All of a sudden, the hopes for a reward at the end fell away. I would always be climbing the hill. And I loved it. The work had become its own reward.

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