The Wayfarer on the Open Road is a nice little guide to help us along the way. This book has many valuable lessons for living a better life.
1. “To realise always clearly that thoughts are forces, that like creates like and like attracts like, and that to determine one’s thinking therefore is to determine his life.”
We are what we think. As Dr O. S. Marden wrote: “When we look at a person, we actually see the mind, or what his thinking has made him… The life follows the thought. There is no law clearer than that.” Understanding this is powerful because it means we are not victims. We can overcome our habits and our environments if we want to.
2. “To take and to live always in the attitude of mind that compels gladness, looking for and thus drawing to us continually the best in all people and all things, being thereby the creators of our own good fortunes.”
Many of us spend our time worrying. We worry that our happiness will leave and that our misery will stay. We worry that our friends will abandon us and that our enemies will never stop troubling our lives. We worry that we’ll go broke, get sick, or even die. All this does is give our fears power over us. That’s why we should learn to have faith instead. If you look on the bright side of life, the world turns out to be quite a sunny place.
3. “To turn toward and to keep our faces always to the light, knowing that we are then always safe, and that we shall travel with joy the open road.”
We should aim to be the best we can. This starts with a sincere wish to see the good in our hearts. Then it’s a case of taking one step at a time “knowing that the next will be made clear when the first has taken place”.
But this doesn’t mean we should live based on strict commandments or rules. Just listen to your own inner guide. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “When I do good, I feel good and when I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion.”
4. “To know that work, occupation, something definite and useful to do, is one of the established conditions of happiness in life.”
Isn’t it nice to get a good night of sleep after a good day of work? Even if we don’t achieve much on a certain day, we can always be proud of the effort we made. That’s why we should do everything to the best of our ability and always have a cheerful heart when it comes to our work.
As Martin Luther King Jr said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’.”
5. “To know that it is the middle ground that brings pleasure and satisfaction, and that excesses have to be paid for always with heavy and sometimes with frightful costs.”
All this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy nice things in life. We can and should take pleasure in good experiences as long as we do so in moderation. Henry David Thoreau said it well: “Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” Finding a middle ground between work and play makes us appreciate both even more.
6. “To get up immediately when we stumble, face again to the light, and travel on without wasting even a moment in regret.”
As we make our way through life, we’ll have ups and downs, laughter and tears. But it’s a waste of our time to be upset about the past or afraid of the future. We should learn from our mistakes and use these lessons to guide us forward.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
It doesn’t matter if we win or lose because we grow stronger every time we try. So let’s not judge ourselves too harshly. That’s like judging a seed for not yet being a tree. Just give it time. We’ll eventually come right.
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