Thursday, March 24, 2016
Read some Harry Browne
Harry Browne wrote this for his syndicated newspaper column, "The American Way," in 1966. It expresses the basic truth about life that no one has to do anything for you, be what you want, treat you as you want, etc., regardless of whether they "should."
Understanding this lesson is one of the key signs of emotional maturity, and understanding it so deeply that not only your intellect, but your emotions, conforming to it most of the time will save you a great deal of grief and anger in life.
You cannot control other people, especially in any way that will be satisfying for you. So accept others as they are, and look for people who already are what you want. If you dislike something about someone, don't waste time complaining about something you can't control; focus on what do you control, which is your reaction to it: arrange your own affairs so that the person's drawbacks affect you as little as possible.- Johnny Kramer
The American Way, Vol. 5, No. 51
December 20, 1966
To my 9-year-old daughter:
It’s Christmas and I have the typical problem of trying to know what to give to you. I know there are many things you might enjoy ~ games, books, clothes.
But I’m very selfish. I want to give you something that will last more than a few weeks or months in your mind. In fact, I want to give you a gift that will perhaps lead you to think of me on every Christmas to come in your life.
I have finally realized that if there were only one thing I could give you, I would want it to be a simple truth that took me many years to learn. If you can understand it now, it may enrich your life in hundreds of ways. And it may prevent hundreds of problems that have hurt people who have never learned it.
The truth is simply this:
No one owes you anything.
Now, how could such a simple statement have any great importance? You may not realize it now, but the deep meaning behind it can bring you a thousand blessings.
It means that no one else is living for you, my child. Because no one is you. Each person is living for himself; his own happiness is all he can ever personally feel.
When you realize that it is no one’s duty to make you happy or give you what you want, you will be freed from the chains of expecting what can never be.
It means that no one has to love you. If your mother loves you, it’s because there is something special about you that gives her happiness. Find out what that something special is and try to make it stronger in you, so that she’ll love you even more.
She doesn’t have to fix meals: she wants to. Aren’t you proud to know that? If you want her to continue to do so, make sure you’re the kind of person that will always inspire her to want to do things for you. And remember that this is an exchange between you ~ each of you is giving happiness to the other. Neither of you owes anything to the other.
No one has to like you. If your friends want to be with you, it is not because it is their duty to be with you. Find out what makes others happy so they’ll want to be near you.
And no one has to respect you. Some people will even try to be unkind to you. But once you realize that people do not have to be good to you, and may not be good to you, you’ll learn to avoid those who would harm you. For you do not owe them anything either.
Living your life
No one owes you anything.
You owe it to yourself to be the best person possible. Because if you are, others will want to be with you, want to provide you with the things you want in exchange for what you are giving to them.
Some people will choose not to associate with you for reasons that have nothing to do with you. When you know that this is true in a given case, look elsewhere for the relationships you want. Don’t make someone else’s problem your problem.
Once you learn that you must earn the love and respect of others, you will never expect the impossible and so you will never be disappointed. Others do not have to share their property with you nor their feelings nor their thoughts.
If they do, it is because you have earned these things. And you have every reason to be proud of your mother’s love, your friends’ respect, the property you have earned. But don’t ever take them for granted. If you do, you’ll lose them. They’re not yours by right: you must always earn them.
A great burden was lifted from my shoulders the day I realized that no one owes me anything. For so long as I’d thought there were things I was entitled to, I’d been wearing myself out — physically and emotionally — trying to collect them.
No one owes me moral conduct, respect, friendship, love, courtesy, or intelligence. And once I recognized that, all my relationships became far more satisfying. I’ve focused on being with people who want to do the things I want them to do.
That understanding has served me well with friends, business associates, lovers, sales prospects, and strangers. It constantly reminds me that I can get what I want only if I can enter the other person’s world. I must try to understand how he thinks, what he believes to be important, what he wants. Only then can I appeal to someone in ways that will bring me what I want.
And only then can I tell whether I really want to be involved with someone. And I can save the important relationships for those with whom I have the most in common.
It is not easy to sum up in a few words what has taken me years to learn. But maybe if you reread this gift each Christmas, the meaning will become a little clearer each year.
I hope so, for I want more than anything else for you to understand this simple truth that can set you free.
Man, what a great message. We need a lot more of this brutal honesty, way less emotional catering, and way less bullshitting kids about life and what to expect from it as we parents help them learn to live it. I can appreciate a good dose of truth from time to time...