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Bag of Tools
  • poetry
  • english
  • motivation
Wednesday, 11th July 2012

"Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings;
And common folks, like you and me,
All are builders for eternity."
"To each is given a book of rules,
A shapeless mass and a bag of tools;
And each must shape ere life has flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone."

R. L. Sharpe
____ § ____

Whatever our station in life, to each of us are given the same set of tools to make of our lives what we will. Some spend their tools in making themselves one stumbling block after another; others, a stepping stone.

The tools that the poet alludes to are the power to discriminate between good and bad, the power to make the right decision, the power to choose the right thing over the wrong one, the power to choose a noble goal, the power to direct our thought to any subject we choose, the power to guide our thought to good things, the power to consequently labor after our noble goal.

The power of discrimination

At regular intervals, life presents to us the opportunity to choose between two options: should I take up that job or not? Should I marry this person or not? Should I marry at all or not? Should I buy a house or stay put on rent? Should I start a business or look for another job? Should I continue with this business or not? Should I tell a lie or the truth? Should I get angry on this person? Should I lose my temper? Should I blame this person for something I am not even sure of that they did or should I keep my mouth shut and remember to be kind? Etc.

On every such incidence, we have the power to choose between the two options. One option will always be the most visceral. It will bring pleasure immediately and will feel pleasant to follow. It will be almost irresistable. It will be the easy path. It will be the one to follow if you exercised no control over yourself. However, this option will almost invariably bring you only immediate, transient relief at the cost of giving someone else pain. This pain will eventually return to you at some point in your life with interest.

On the other hand, the other option will not give you instant gratification. It will even seem illogical when you compare it against the social norms that you have grown up with. It will be difficult to follow. It will be unpleasant. But it will not hurt anyone and it will be the right thing to do. It will eventually give you peace, joy and will come back into your life as a gift and with interest.

We have the power to pause and think: am I doing the right thing? This is the power of discrimination.

The power of thought

Once we have decided the course of action, we then can use our will to guide our thoughts to think only about that noble goal we have chosen.

We think many thoughts every day. But for most of us, our lives are lived unintelligently. As a result, we do not take control over what we think. Our thoughts just happen to us. We just lie on our couch like a victim, letting whatever thoughts cruise in our heads and play havoc. That's to be changed. This is the next power: to willfully guide thought. Because thought is a very powerful agency of change.

We may use it to remember all the bad things that happened so far, crib, and focus on all that's not working in your life, and thus create for ourselves poverty, misery and defeat. Or, we may use the same power of thinking to focus on what we want to make happen, and thus create one stepping stone after another on our journey to success.

The power of right action

Wilfully guided thought builds up a giant battery of energy that eventually is let out as action. The right action is the consequence of well-guided thought.

This is the third tool we have been given. The power to labor for what we want. Action is how we express our desire. All achievement has been made possible by persistent action. When we thus express our desire for a goal by persistent, sincere and honest action, the universe rewards us with the obtainment of our goal.

  1. Secret Thoughts, a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
  2. Waiting, a poem by John Burroughs.
  3. The Thinker, a poem by Berton Braley.
  4. The Victor, a poem by C. W. Longenecker.
  5. We Go Where We Are Expected, a poem by Frances Ekin Allison.
  6. A related thought for the day from Mooji. Remember, you can also play audio on that page. Look at the top-right corner of the thought for the day section on that page.