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A great woman is said to have remarked, “ Only a gentleman could insult me, and he will not.”
Accordingly the voice of the insulter must be unheeded and unheard.
By simply smiling you can make yourself immune from antagonism. No sign of anger will be left on the face of your would-be antagonist.
On the other hand, meet frown with frown and a fire is kindled, and how great a forest may be kindled by how small a fire!
Truly love is the secret of life. Obedience to the Master's rule would settle all human difficulties. If we would but do unto others as we would have them do unto us, we should eliminate all contentions.
Scowl or smile?
How simple, how insignificant, seem these two acts of the countenance; yet, how far reaching the result!
Can we control them?
That depends upon how quickly we begin; upon the spontaneity with which we can resist temptation and change our point of view.
To turn an impulse to scowl into a cause for a smile we must turn our attention to a higher love; we must go into the citadel of our hearts and there keep watch and there enthrone a universal sympathy; we must be so deeply imbued with these emotions that the right impulse can replace the wrong one.
All human action or expression starts in an idea, in an impulse which at a certain moment we welcome or reject. Once we welcome a point of view or indulge an impulse, control may be difficult; but in its first inception it is as easy as a turn of the hand,-it is simply a change in the attitude of our being.
The real centre of all our battles is in the mind, in our power to control our attention, to be able to change the current of thought at the very beginning. We can change feeling at the very start, as we can change the direction of a stream easily, and in fact only, near the fountain head.
Crossing the Rocky Mountains on the Canadian Pacific Railroad I awoke one morning at early dawn. The train had stopped and I looked out to catch a glimpse of the mountains before sunrise. Just before my eyes, in rustic letters, spanning a small stream, were the words “ The Great Divide.”
This stream was divided into two parts; one flowing east and the other west. One of these branches flowed into the Red River of the North and found its way to Hudson's Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; the other found the Columbia River and, after thousands of miles, emptied into the Pacific Ocean.
With a shovelful of dirt I could have turned the stream so that the whole would have gone either to the Atlantic or to the Pacific.
Smile or scowl? That is the question of the ages; it is one of the greatest problems and goes deep into the nature of self-command in every living soul.
The smile or scowl is born simply of an attitude of the soul. Can we change that? Let us discuss the question:-can we command our thinking or point of view?
Say what we may, there is a moment when we can reject the frown and choose the smile.
One implies looking up, the other looking down. One hints at a willingness to use things for the best, with expectancy of the best. One implies
love, loyalty to life. The other implies unwillingness, antagonism and hate.
Accordingly, the smile indicates the turningpoint in life, it indicates the Great Divide between the upward and the downward path. The smile foretells victory. The ability to smile marks the greatest human power.
SMILE OR FROWN
The smile is opposed not only to the scowl, but also to the frown and to something for which we hardly have a name-shall we call it a droop of the countenance or a whine? The whine means rather the vocal expression of the frown, but it is a good word.
The smile means not only sympathy, joy, love,it means also courage, the sense of resolution, the power and readiness to face difficulties,-a loyal acceptance of life and all its problems, and a thankfulness that we have been assigned a difficult rôle.
The whine expresses dissatisfaction with our part in life and a cowardly shrinking from difficulties.
In the smile there is a lifting of the whole countenance. All the elevating muscles are active.
Someone has said that all progress depends upon intelligent discontent.
Is this true?
Even dissatisfaction with wrong conditions is best expressed by love, by a smile.
If a man strike you on the right cheek, turn the other.
Even righteous indignation against wrong is best expressed, not by a scowl or a frown, but by the expression of a higher point of view and a smile for the realization of better conditions. How easy it is for a human being to drop the
corners of the mouth; how common is such a gloomy“ signal” on the street!
Not one in a thousand carries the mouth in its normal position,-a horizontal line, in correspondence with the intention of the Creator.
Some can remember the old covered wagon of the pioneer moving" out West," sometimes it was drawn by oxen and sometimes by horses. “Out West" this old wagon was called a prairieschooner.” As you watched it disappear in the distance, the rear end of the old wagon looked as if it were weeping for the old home it was leaving. The corners of its mouth were very low, indeed.
If we are to judge the men and women we meet by the corners of the mouth, they seem to be moving onward with discontent for the past, and a premonition of some coming horror! On all sides we see this expression of discouragement.
If there were some way by which the corners of the mouth could be elevated, it would be one of the greatest blessings that could come to the race.
The only thing that can lift the corners of the mouth is the smile.
The smile eliminates discontent, the want of self-reliance, and all such infirmities of the will.
There is a story that relates how, at one time, the devil made up his mind to retire from business. He felt he had done enough and that he should give others a chance. So he arranged all his tools and advertised them for sale. Among the display was a very small tool, seemingly of no importance. One of the devils who was more careful and thoughtful than the others picked this up, and noticed that the price was higher than for
other. He went to the devil and inquired the reason.
Why, that,” replied the devil, “is the most