Top 100 Inspiring Anecdotes and Wisdom
(Part 5)

Believe The Impossible

Every great achievement was once impossible until someone set a goal to make it a reality.

Lewis Carroll's famous masterpiece Through the Looking Glass contains a story that exemplifies the need to dream the impossible dream. There is a conversation between Alice and the queen, which goes like this:

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

When you dare to dream, many marvels can be accomplished. The trouble is, most people never start dreaming their impossible dream.

How High Can You Jump?

Flea trainers have observed a predictable and strange habit of fleas while training them. Fleas are trained by putting them in a cardboard box with a top on it. The fleas will jump up and hit the top of the cardboard box over and over and over again. As you watch them jump and hit the lid, something very interesting becomes obvious. The fleas continue to jump, but they are no longer jumping high enough to hit the top. Apparently, Excedrin headache 1738 forces them to limit the height of their jump.

When you take off the lid, the fleas continue to jump, but they will not jump out of the box. They won't jump out because they can't jump out. Why? The reason is simple. They have conditioned themselves to jump just so high. Once they have conditioned themselves to jump just so high, that's all they can do!

Many times, people do the same thing. They restrict themselves and never reach their potential. Just like the fleas, they fail to jump higher, thinking they are doing all they can do.

A Poem

God Made The Night ..

But He could not have known about those of us
who waited for the dark
To feel the first moments of privacy we had known all day,
Or to use that black secrecy to mutter curses at the day's faults.

He Also Fashioned The Sun ..

And choreographed the ballet called sunset;
But He didn't anticipate the agony that spectacle would create
Among those of us who counted the day past a loss
For it brought them not one step nearer the goals sought.

When He Breathed Out The Worlds Music ..

He planned joy,
But again we fail Him when we wince,
And fight tears, and denounce the beauty of it
Only because there is no beauty in the music of our souls.

God Planted Love Here ..

And it grows
Where hate had flourished
Or where it is scarcely recognized.
He planned on using it like a band-aid on the hurts of the heart.
But it won't stick on some of us,
Or it washes with salt tears,
Or we claim not to need it's protection.

Isn't it a marvel He doesn't despair of us?

I Listen

I Listen to the trees, and they say:
"Stand tall and yield.
Be tolerant and flexible.
Be true to yourself.
Stand alone, and stand together.
Be brave.
Be patient.
With time, you will grow."

I Listen to the wind, and it says:
"Breathe.
Take care of yourself --
body, mind, and spirit.
Take time.
Be quiet.
Listen from your heart.
Forgive."

I Listen to the sun, and it says:
"Nurture others.
Let your warmth radiate for others to feel.
Give yourself without expectations."

I Listen to the creek, and it says:
"Relax; go with the flow.
Tend to what's really important,
and let the rest go by.
Keep moving -- don't be hesitant or afraid.
Lighten up -- laugh, giggle."

I Listen to the mountains, and they say:
"Be there.
Be honest.
Be trustworthy.
Do what you say you're going to do.
Be true, genuine, and real.
Speak from the heart.
Don't cheat."

I Listen to the birds, and they say:
"Set yourself free.
Sing."

I Listen to the clouds, and they say:
"Be creative.
Be expressive.
Let your spirit run free.
Let yourself be light and gay,
but let yourself be heavy and sad.
Cry when you feel like it."

I Listen to the sky, and it says:
"Open up.
Let go of the boundaries and barriers
which you have created to protect yourself.
Experience change.
Fly."

I Listen to the flowers and small plants, and they say:
"Be humble.
Be simple.
Respect the beauty of small things.
Respect the beauty of humility and truth.
Let go of perfectionism.
Love yourself as you are; it opens the door to change.
Practice acceptance."

I Listen to the bugs and flying insects, and they say:
"Work.
Be productive.
Use your hands.
Focus on what's in front of you.
Ignore the past; there is only the present."

I Listen to the moon, and it says:
"Love.
Share love.
Make love.
Be romantic -- touch and caress.
Allow yourself to be loved.
Be gentle, kind, and understanding.
Use candles."

I Listen to the stars, and they wink and say:
"Play.
Dance, be silly, have fun."

I Listen to the earth, and it says:
"I am your mother.
I give you life.
Respect all that is around you.
Find beauty in all things -- living and not -- including
yourself; for we are all one -- not separate.
Be especially respectful to the very young and the very old,
for they are both very near God.
Give up the belief that you are a higher form of life;
there is no higher form of life.
We are equal because we are the same.
When you return to me, I will welcome you,
and I will set your spirit free.
Love and nurture your children; cook good food for them,
and hold them very close to you often.
Hold me close to you often as well,
and I will hold you in return; I will support you.
Have faith.

(Dr. Charles Roper  )

Keeper of the Spring

The late Peter Marshall was an eloquent speaker and for several years served as the chaplain of the US Senate. He used to love to tell the story of the "Keeper of the Spring," a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slope of the Alps.

The old gentleman had been hired many years earlier by a young town councilman to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise have choked and contaminated the fresh flow of water. The village soon became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man's eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, "Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know, the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn't necessary any longer." By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man's services.

For several weeks, nothing changed.

By early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped of and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A few days later, the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and a foul odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved more slowly, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left, as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they rehired the old keeper of the spring, and within a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps.

Never become discouraged with the seeming smallness of your task, job, or life. Cling fast to the words of Edward Everett Hale: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do. " The key to accomplishment is believing that what you can do will make a difference.

"If I Had My Life to Live Over"

If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I'd limber up. I would be sillier than I've been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously, take more chances, take more trips. I'd climb more mountains, and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. You see, I'm one of those people who lived seriously, sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I've had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them. I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than this trip. If I had my life to live over, I would start going barefoot earlier in the spring, and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances, I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

The Whole World Came Together

The young mother was ready for a few minutes of relaxation after a long and demanding day. However, her young daughter had other plans for her mother's time.

"Read me a story, Mom," the little girl requested. "Give Mommy a few minutes to relax and unwind. Then I'll be happy to read you a story," pleaded the mother.

The little girl was insistent that Mommy read to her now. With a stroke of genius, the mother tore off the back page of the magazine she was reading. It contained a full-page picture of the world. As she tore it into several pieces, Mom asked her daughter to put the picture together and then she would read her a story. Surely this would buy her considerable relaxing moments.

A short time later, the little girl announced the completion of her puzzle project. To her astonishment, she found the world picture completely assembled. When she asked her daughter how she managed to do it so quickly, the little girl explained that on the reverse side of the page was the picture of a little girl. "You see, Mommy, when I got the little girl together, the whole world came together."

Each of us has the responsibility to put our world together. It starts by getting ourselves put together. We can become better parents, friends, spouses, employees, and employers. The first step is changing our attitude.

Criticism

If an impulse comes to say
Some un-thoughtful word today
That may drive a friend away,
Don't say it!

 If you've heard a word of blame
Cast upon your neighbor's name
That may injure his fair fame,
Don't tell it!

If malicious gossip's tongue
Some vile slander may have flung
On the head of old or young,
Don't repeat it!

 Thoughtful, kind, helpful speech,
'Tis a gift promised to each--
This the lesson we would teach:
Don't abuse it!

Never Mind!

Sometimes when nothing goes just right
And worry reigns supreme,
When heartache fills the eyes with mist
And all things useless seem,
There's just one thing can drive away
The tears that scald and blind --
Someone to slip a strong arm 'round
And whisper, "Never mind."

No one has ever told just why
Those words such comfort bring;
Nor why that whisper makes our cares
Depart on hurried wing.
Yet troubles say a quick "Good-day,"
We leave them far behind
When someone slips an arm around,
And whispers, "Never mind."

 But love must prompt that soft caress-
That love must, aye, be true
Or at that tender, clinging touch
No heart ease come to you,
But if the arm be moved by love,
Sweet comfort you will find
When someone slips an arm around,
And whispers, "Never mind!"

Murphy's Laws

Everyone has heard of Murphy's first law: "If anything can go wrong, invariably it will." But hardly anybody has even a foggy idea of who Murphy was.

The search for Murphy's notebooks led to a garage in Toledo, Ohio; an inventor's junk loft in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania; and the home of a retired female blackmailer in Sarasota, Florida. It was learned that Murphy had no first name, that he never could hold a job, and that his writings were returned by the post office for insufficient postage.

It seems everything Murphy wrote about had some explanation for why things go wrong. Consider a few more Murphy classics:

Nothing is ever as simple as it first seems.

Everything you decide to do costs more than first estimated.

Every activity takes more time than you have.

It's easier to make a commitment or to get involved in something than to get out of it.

Whatever you set out to do, something else must be done first.

If you improve or tinker with something long enough, eventually it will break.

By making something absolutely clear, somebody will be confused.

You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, and that's sufficient.

A Short Course in Human Relations

The six most important words:
I admit that I was wrong.
The five most important words:
You did a great job.
The four most important words:
What do you think?
The three most important words:
Could you please. . .
The two most important words:
Thank you.
The most important word:
We.
The least important word:
I.

If You Think

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't!
If you want to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.

 If you think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of the mind.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Walter D. Wintle

You are Wonderful

The following true story captured our heart. It happened several years ago in the Paris opera house. A famous singer had been contracted to sing, and ticket sales were booming. In fact, the night of the concert found the house packed and every ticket sold. The feeling of anticipation and excitement was in the air as the house manager took the stage and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your enthusiastic support. I am afraid that due to illness, the man whom you've all come to hear will not be performing tonight. However, we have found a suitable substitute we hope will provide you with comparable entertainment." The crowd groaned in disappointment and failed to hear the announcer mention the stand-in's name. The environment turned from excitement to frustration.

The stand-in performer gave the performance everything he had. When he had finished, there was nothing but an uncomfortable silence. No one applauded. Suddenly, from the balcony, a little boy stood up and shouted, "Daddy, I think you are wonderful!" The crowd broke into thunderous applause.

We all need people in our Lives who are willing to stand up once in a while and say, "I think you are wonderful. "

Two Kinds of People

There are only two kinds of people on earth today
Two kinds of people, no more I say.
Not the rich and the poor, for to know a man's wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience
and health,
Not the happy and sad, for in life's passing years,
Each has his laughter and each has his tears.
No, the two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift and the people who lean.
In which class are you? Are you lifting the load
Of some overtaxed lifter who's going down the road
Or are you a leaner who lets others share
Your portion of toil and labor and care?

Ella Wheeler Wikcox

Wranglers and Stranglers

Years ago there was a group of brilliant young men at the University of Wisconsin, who seemed to have amazing creative literary talent. They were would-be poets, novelists, and essayists. They were extraordinary in their ability to put the English language to its best use. These promising young men met regularly to read and critique each other's work. And critique it they did!

These men were merciless with one another. They dissected the most minute literary expression into a hundred pieces. They were heartless, tough, even mean in their criticism. The sessions became such arenas of literary criticism that the members of this exclusive club called themselves the "Stranglers."

Not to be outdone, the women of literary talent in the university were determined to start a club of their own, one comparable to the Stranglers. They called themselves the "Wranglers." They, too, read their works to one another. But there was one great difference. The criticism was much softer, more positive, more encouraging. Sometimes, there was almost no criticism at all. Every effort, even the most feeble one, was encouraged.

Twenty years later an alumnus of the university was doing an exhaustive study of his classmates' careers when he noticed a vast difference in the literary accomplishments of the Stranglers as opposed to the Wranglers. Of all the bright young men in the Stranglers, not one had made a significant literary accomplishment of any kind. From the Wranglers had come six or more successful writers, some of national renown such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who wrote The Yearling.

Talent between the two? Probably the same. Level of education? Not much difference. But the Stranglers strangled, while the Wranglers were determined to give each other a lift. The Stranglers promoted an atmosphere of contention and self doubt. The Wranglers highlighted the best, not the worst.

A Quiet Scolding

The late John Wanamaker was the king of retail. One day while walking through his store in Philadelphia, he noticed a customer waiting for assistance. No one was paying the least bit of attention to her. Looking around, he saw his salespeople huddled together laughing and talking among themselves. Without a word, he quietly slipped behind the counter and waited on the customer himself. Then he quietly handed the purchase to the salespeople to be wrapped as he went on his way. Later, Wanamaker was quoted as saying, "I learned thirty years ago that it is foolish to scold. I have enough trouble overcoming my own limitations without fretting over the fact that God has not seen fit to distribute evenly the gift of intelligence."

Quick Decisions

A game warden noticed how a particular fellow named Sam consistently caught more fish than anyone else, whereas the other guys would only catch three or four a day. Sam would come in off the lake with a boat full. Stringer after stringer was always packed with freshly caught trout. The warden, curious, asked Sam his secret. The successful fisherman invited the game warden to accompany him and observe. So the next morning the two met at the dock and took off in Sam's boat. When they got to the middle of the lake, Sam stopped the boat, and the warden sat back to see how it was done.

Sam's approach was simple. He took out a stick of dynamite, lit it, and threw it in the air. The explosion rocked the lake with such a force that dead fish immediately began to surface. Sam took out a net and started scooping them up.

Well you can imagine the reaction of the game warden. When he recovered from the shock of it all, he began yelling at Sam. "You can't do this! I'll put you in jail, buddy! You will be paying every fine there is in the book!" Sam, meanwhile, set his net down and took out another stick of dynamite. He lit it and tossed it in the lap of the game warden with these words, "Are you going to sit there all day complaining, or are you going to fish?"

The poor warden was left with a fast decision to make. He was yanked, in one second, from an observer to a participant. A dynamite of a choice had to be made and be made quickly! Life is like that. Few days go by without our coming face to face with an uninvited, unanticipated, yet unavoidable decision. Like a crashing snow bank, these decisions tumble upon us without warning. Quick. Immediate. Sudden. No council, no study, no advice. Pow!

Ten Rules for the Good Life

  1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
  2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  3. Never spend your money before you have it.
  4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will never be dear to you.
  5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
  6. Never repent of having eaten too little.
  7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  8. Don't let the evils which have never happened cost you pain.
  9. Always take things by their smooth handle.
  10. When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred.

(This is a list of "Thomas Jefferson's ten rules for the good life".)

Winners versus Losers

The Winner is always a part of the answer;
The Loser is always a part of the problem.

The Winner always has a program;
The Loser always has an excuse.

The Winner says, "Let me do it for you;"
The Loser says, "That's not my job."

The Winner sees an answer for every problem;
The Loser sees a problem in every answer.

The Winner says, "It may be difficult but it's possible;"
The Loser says, "It may be possible but it's too difficult."

Things To Remember

I find what I look for in people. If I look for God, I find God. If I look for bad qualities, I find them. I, in a sense, select what I expect, and I receive it.

A life without challenges would be like going to school without lessons to learn. Challenges come not to depress or get me down, but to master and to grow and to unfold thereby.

In the Father's wise and loving plan for me, no burden can fall upon me, no emergency can arise, no grief can overtake me, before I am given the grace and strength to meet them.

A rich, full life is not determined by outer circumstances and relationships. These can be contributory to it, but cannot be the source. I am happy or unhappy because of what I think and feel.

I can never lose anything that belongs to me, nor can I posses what is not really mine.

To never run from a problem: either it will chase me or I will run into another just like it, although it may have a different face or name.

To have no concern for tomorrow. Today is the yesterday over which I had concern.

To never bang on a closed door: Wait for it to open and then go through it.

A person who has come into my life has come either to teach me something, or to learn something from me.

On Youth

Youth is not entirely a time of life -- it is a state of mind. It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips, or supple knees. It is a temper of will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions.

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

In the central place of every heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty and hope, cheer and courage, you are young.

When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then and only then have you grown old.

A Tragedy Or a Blessing?

Years ago in Scotland, the Clark family had a dream. Clark and his wife worked and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to travel to the United States. It had taken years, but they had finally saved enough money and had gotten passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States.

The entire family was filled with anticipation and excitement about their new life. However, seven days before their departure, the youngest son was bitten by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the Clarks' front door. Because of the possibility of rabies, they were being quarantined for fourteen days.

The family's dreams were dashed. They would not be able to make the trip to America as they had planned. The father, filled with disappointment and anger, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave - without the Clark family. The father shed tears of disappointment and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune.

Five days later, the tragic news spread throughout Scotland - the mighty Titanic had sunk. The unsinkable ship had sunk, taking hundreds of lives with it. The Clark family was to have been on that ship, but because the son had been bitten by a dog, they were left behind in Scotland.

When Mr. Clark heard the news, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family. He thanked God for saving their lives and turning what he had felt was a tragedy into a blessing.

Grind or Shine

Adversity is the grindstone of life. Intended to polish you up, adversity also has the ability to grind you down. The impact and ultimate result depend on what you do with the difficulties that come your way. Consider the phenomenal achievements of people experiencing adversity.

Beethoven composed his greatest works after becoming deaf. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote the History of the World during a thirteen year imprisonment. If Columbus had turned back, no one could have blamed him, considering the constant adversity he endured. Of course, no one would have remembered him either. Abraham Lincoln achieved greatness by his display of wisdom and character during the devastation of the Civil War. Luther translated the Bible while enduring confinement in the Castle of Wartburg. Under a sentence of death and during twenty years in exile, Dante wrote the Divine Comedy. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress in a Bedford jail.

Finally, consider a more recent example. Mary Groda-Lewis endured sixteen years of illiteracy because of unrecognized dyslexia, was committed to a reformatory on two different occasions, and almost died of a stroke while bearing a child. Committed to going to college, she worked at a variety of odd jobs to save money, graduated with her high school equivalency at eighteen, was named Oregon's outstanding Upward Bound student, and finally entered college. Determined to become a doctor, she faced fifteen medical school rejections until Albany Medical College finally accepted her. In 1984, Dr. Mary Groda-Lewis, at thirty-five, graduated with honors to fulfill her dream.

Adversity - the grindstone of life. Will it grind you down or polish you up?

From Candles to Soap

In 1879, Procter and Gamble's best seller was candles. But the company was in trouble. Thomas Edison had invented the light bulb, and it looked as if candles would become obsolete. Their fears became reality when the market for candles plummeted since they were now sold only for special occasions.

The outlook appeared to be bleak for Procter and Gamble. However, at this time, it seemed that destiny played a dramatic part in pulling the struggling company from the clutches of bankruptcy. A forgetful employee at a small factory in Cincinnati forgot to turn off his machine when he went to lunch. The result? A frothing mass of lather filled with air bubbles. He almost threw the stuff away but instead decided to make it into soap. The soap floated. Thus, Ivory soap was born and became the mainstay of the Procter and Gamble Company.

Why was soap that floats such a hot item at that time? In Cincinnati, during that period, some people bathed in the Ohio River. Floating soap would never sink and consequently never got lost. So, Ivory soap became a best seller in Ohio and eventually across the country also.

Like Procter and Gamble, never give up when things go wrong or when seemingly insurmountable problems arise. Creativity put to work can change a problem and turn it into a gold mine.

A Ten-Cent Idea

When young F. W. Woolworth was a store clerk, he tried to convince his boss to have a ten-cent sale to reduce inventory. The boss agreed, and the idea was a resounding success. This inspired Woolworth to open his own store and price items at a nickel and a dime. He needed capital for such a venture, so he asked his boss to supply the capital for part interest in the store. His boss turned him down flat. "The idea is too risky," he told Woolworth. "There are not enough items to sell for five and ten cents." Woolworth went ahead without his boss's backing, and he not only was successful in his first store, but eventually he owned a chain of F. W. Woolworth stores across the nation. Later, his former boss was heard to remark, "As far as I can figure out, every word I used to turn Woolworth down cost me about a million dollars."

Time To Think

Henry Ford hired an efficiency expert to go through his plant. He said, "Find the nonproductive people. Tell me who they are, and I will fire them!"

The expert made the rounds with his clipboard in hand and finally returned to Henry Ford's office with his report. "I've found a problem with one of your administrators," he said. "Every time I walked by, he was sitting with his feet propped up on the desk. The man never does a thing. I definitely think you should consider getting rid of him!" When Henry Ford learned the name of the man the expert was referring to, Ford shook his head and said, "I can't fire him. I pay that man to do nothing but think - and that's what he's doing."