EXPERIENCE HAS taught me that one of the most powerful ways of being good to yourself is by giving. Most per sons hoard their ideas like precious gems. I have found that by giving your good ideas away you not only increase the glow within yourself but win the support of those around you. And by ideas I do not mean gigantic inventions, inventions requiring millions of dollars to commercialize. Instead, I'm talking about those hundreds of little everyday suggestions that you can contribute along life's way to put more success and satisfaction into the other person's life—and thereby also into your own.
For example, as a youngster in Canada, one of eight children, I was hardly in a financial position to patent my inventions. Instead, I wrote them up and offered them "with my compliments and without any expectation of remuneration" to those firms I thought might make good use of them.
Manufacturers began sending me all kinds of gifts in appreciation for my suggestions: a gross of candy bars or a carton of chewing gum. A candy manufacturer in Hamilton, Ontario, sent me several pounds of caramels; I had simply suggested that they also try to market a chocolate-coated variety, and they did. I shall never forget the big thrill that came on opening a package one day and finding in it an official Boy Scout flash light and penknife. The results of my teen-age sharing astonished my family and pleased the entire neighborhood, as well as making me very happy.
These boyhood experiences gave me positive proof that there is much more pleasure in giving than in receiving. And the more ideas you throw out that are good enough for others to pick up and carry for you the greater the scope of your own achievements in the end. Good ideas put you into the ball game of life, channel you into the mainstream of activity instead of making you a bystanding spectator.
Thus it was that I discovered the wisdom of Jesus, who in Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
Often I recall the response I received from a Chinese friend of mine who owns a restaurant in Philadelphia. I suggested that he publish little booklets of famous Chinese epigrams and give a copy of one of them to each of his customers when they paid their bills. The idea proved to be a great boon to his business. "Ideas that you give away," he said to me, "are, indeed like beautiful flowers—each one leaves part of its fragrance in the hands that give it."
In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is that one of the most powerful means at your command to help your fellow persons—and, incidentally, yourself—is by giving little parts of yourself away, not necessarily your money or material blessings, but some of your precious mind output. Of all the things that a person may give away, money is the least permanent in the pleasure it produces, the most likely to backfire on the giver. Emerson, wise and practical, wrote, "The only gift is a portion of thyself."
The Most Expensive Self-indulgence
Since most human beings tend to be frail and inconsistent, you must gird yourself and by God's help be vigilant never to fall into the most common, and sometimes most fatal, mistake of human nature. Remember clearly that the most expensive treat that you can give yourself is self-indulgence. When it comes to being your own butcher, indifference to the needs of your fellow man can be as destructive to you as a guillotine.
Most of the people with whom you come in contact—be they housemaid, bank president, politician, business associate, or new patient have one common need: your acknowledgment that they are right about something or that they are doing something well. You will actually give a new spurt to their life by saying or doing things that prove to them that you are appreciative of their needs and genuinely eager to share part of yourself with them.
To give is the surest way to gain. The following enduring quotation hangs in my office, and, I believe, sums up the wonderful advice given by Jesus in Luke 6:38: "To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived this is to have succeeded."