If you feel your life could stand a change for the better. If things seem to have gotten into a rut with nothing much happening. There's a cure available that anybody can afford. Works like a charm. You begin a program of study.
Start with history, world history. It's the most fascinating story ever written, and it'll spark ideas. Check out a good book on world history at the public library or buy one from your bookstore. Then study world religions, another fascinating study. The average person in our society knows almost nothing about the great religions of the world, how they began and what they teach. As a rule, he knows practically nothing about his own, the one in which he was raised.
After getting started on that, start on philosophy. Read the great philosophers. You can find books with digests of the teachings of dozens of the world's wisest people. After you find yourself sailing along pretty well in philosophy, tackle economics, another fascinating study. All the time, incidentally, you're acquiring a first-rate education, and you'll wonder why you didn't find the same subjects interesting back when you were in school.
I believe I can guarantee that once you start a program such as this, you'll find yourself in the most interesting world you've yet inhabited, and you'll never stop. You'll be constantly amazed and delighted about what you learn. And you'll wonder why everyone else doesn't know how much fun, how rewarding it is, to start getting a real education.
Add to the study of history, religion, philosophy, and economics, the study of English. And if you ever master that very tricky subject to the point where you can say what you want to say with ease and fluency, tackle a foreign language. But don't ever be bored. If you find you don't know what to do in the evening or on a Sunday afternoon, a book on any of the subjects I've mentioned will fill the time interestingly and rewardingly. In fact, you will have invested a few minutes or an hour or two in yourself, in your mind and your future, and it's the kind of investment you can't lose.
Your mind controls your life, present and future. Now there is no way that a life can be better, or more enjoyable, or richer, than what is stored in the mind. People will say, “Well, I took those subjects in school," as though you can finish with a subject in a year or two, complete it as you would a fence. You could spend a lifetime studying any one of the subjects I've mentioned and still find it a rich source of unending enjoyment and discovery.
There is no such thing as an educated person. You don't finish an education and put a cork in it. Either you're becoming educated or you're not. The trouble often stems from an unfortunate memory of unrelieved boredom in school. Maybe you were too young to take a real interest then; maybe it wasn't presented in an interesting way. But the subjects themselves are interesting to anyone who takes the time to poke around in them. And for the person who has never tried, well, it opens up an entirely new world, a whole new world of interest and charm and excitement.
Take a look at your private library. Are there books on history, philosophy, religion, English, and economics? If not, take my word for it, they'll represent the best investment you've ever made in time and/or money.
We all need time to think
Norman Cousins, in an editorial for the Saturday Review, observed, “We've been concerned for some years with the lot of underprivileged people throughout the world. But we have yet to do anything for one of the most underprivileged of all, ourselves.
“We have more food than we can eat. We have more money per person than anywhere else in the world, with 6% of the population, we hold 80% of the wealth. We have bigger homes, bigger TV sets, bigger cars, bigger theaters, bigger schools. We have everything we need, in fact, except the most important thing of all, time to think and the habit of thought. We lack time for the one indispensable for safety of an individual or a nation.
“Thought is the basic energy in human history. Civilization is put together not by machines but by thought. Similarly, man's uniqueness is represented not by his ability to make objects, but to sort them and relate them. Other animals practice communications; only man has capacity for comprehension. Displace or eliminate thought, and the species itself has as little claim on survival as the dinosaurs with the four-foot skulls and the pea-sized brains. The impotence of the brute alongside the power of the sage is represented by thought.
“We seem to have no time for thought. The paradox, of course, is that we are busy doing nothing. Never before has so much leisure time been available to so many. Leisure hours now exceed working hours. But we have a genius for cluttering. We have somehow managed to persuade ourselves that we are too busy to think, too busy to read, too busy to look back, too busy to look ahead, too busy to understand that all our wealth and all our power are not enough to safeguard our future unless there is also a real understanding of the danger that threatens us and how to meet it. Thus, being busy is more than merely a national passion; it is a national excuse.
“The real question however, concerns not the time or lack of it we provide for thought, but the value we place on thought. What standing does thoughtfulness enjoy in the community at large? What great works of contemporary literature assign importance to thought or make heroes of thoughtful men? Action, accumulation, diversion, these seem to be the great imperatives today. We are so busy increasing the size and ornamentation of our personal kingdoms that we are unaware that no age in history has had as many loose props under it as our own."
It's interesting, isn't it? How much time do you spend in thought? How much attention to thought is paid in school? In the home? In your home?
People acknowledge that they want more. It is impossible to think with the mouth open. And as long as we live, we will never learn anything of value when we are talking or yelling or demanding. What is needed, most assuredly, is more quiet, reflective, creative thinking. Lincoln once said, “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves."
On a national and individual basis we need to define our priorities, organize them in the order of their importance, and attack them with creative thought, realizing that we need new solutions to new problems. We need to set aside a time each day for thought.