Is there something you want? A new job, better health, a new relationship? Orison Swett Marden discusses this in his book How To Get What You Want. In this episode I cover one chapter from this books which was so profound and powerful I had to read it right away.
Dr. Orison Swett Marden (1848–1924) was an American inspirational author who wrote about achieving success in life and founded SUCCESS magazine in 1897. His writings discuss common-sense principles and virtues that make for a well-rounded, successful life. Many of his ideas are based on New Thought philosophy.
His first book, Pushing to the Front (1894), became an instant best-seller. Marden later published fifty or more books and booklets, averaging two titles per year.
In addition to Samuel Smiles, Marden cited as influences on his thinking the works of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. and Ralph Waldo Emerson, both of whom were influential forerunners of what, by the 1890s, was called the New Thought Movement.
Like many proponents of the New Thought philosophy, Marden believed that our thoughts influence our lives and our life circumstances. He said, “We make the world we live in and shape our own environment.”Yet although he is best known for his books on financial success, he always emphasized that this would come as a result of cultivating one’s personal development: “The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.”
Marden wrote in an energetic and readable style that used simple, yet lucid vocabulary. He favored the “bold headline” approach and presented his ideas with brevity, directness and clarity. It was perhaps owing to his business background that he could pack so much “punch” into a mere few words. He also carried a distinctive American tone and syntax that modern readers may easily relate to.
Among the many subjects to be found in his writings, perhaps his strongest were in business, salesmanship and the art of balanced living. Other interests include literature, history, philosophy, biography, fine art, education, psychology, and physical health. Like Samuel Smiles, he expounded upon many of the virtues that make up success, such as self-reliance, perseverance, and hard work. His writings breathe a spirit of “lofty austerity” and focus on themes of adversity and triumph, defeat and victory, failure and success.”
Marden often kept his writings simple, concrete, and grounded in reality. Indeed, he advises young writers to “Live, Then Write” and to “Keep Close to Life.” Yet along with this simplicity, his writings also displayed a remarkable talent for rhetorical flight. Marden made frequent use of metaphors and similes in conveying ethical principles and moral lessons. Objects or scenes observable in nature such as rocks, marbles, streams, trees, snows, and tempests imparted a sublime, poetic depth to his writing:
The frost, the snows, the tempests, the lightnings, are the rough teachers that bring the tiny acorn to the sturdy oak…Obstacles, hardships are the chisel and mallet which shape the strong life into beauty.
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