"This is the beginning of a new year, and each of us might well say to himself, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Let me begin now to prepare for eternal life, that I may know a fullness of joy and happiness now and forever.” After all, this is really what each of us wants, and it is most important that we take time to find out how to get it and begin now to work at it day by day."
I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands."
After saying these words, he invited the strangers to come into his house. His two daughters and two sons presented them with divers sorts of sherbet of their own making; besides caymac, heightened with the peels of candied citrons, oranges, lemons, pineapples, pistachio nuts, and Mocha coffee unadulterated with the bad coffee of Batavia or the American islands. After which the two daughters of this good Mussulman perfumed the beards of Candide, Pangloss, and Martin. "You must certainly have a vast estate," said Candide to the Turk.
"I have no more than twenty acres of ground," he replied, "the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labor keeps off from us three great evils-idleness, vice, and want." Candide, as he was returning home, made profound reflections on the Turk's discourse. "This good old man," said he to Pangloss and Martin, "appears to me to have chosen for himself a lot much preferable to that of the six Kings with whom we had the honor to sup." "Human grandeur," said Pangloss, "is very dangerous, if we believe the testimonies of almost all philosophers; for we find Eglon, King of Moab, was assassinated by Aod; Absalom was hanged by the hair of his head, and run through with three darts; King Nadab, son of Jeroboam, was slain by Baaza; King Ela by Zimri; Okosias by Jehu; Athaliah by Jehoiada; the Kings Jehooiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, were led into captivity: I need not tell you what was the fate of Croesus, Astyages, Darius, Dionysius of Syracuse, Pyrrhus, Perseus, Hannibal, Jugurtha, Ariovistus, Caesar, Pompey, Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Domitian, Richard II of England, Edward II, Henry VI, Richard Ill, Mary
Stuart, Charles I, the three Henrys of France, and the Emperor Henry IV."
"Neither need you tell me," said Candide, "that we must take care of our garden." "You are in the right," said Pangloss; "for when man was put into the garden of Eden, it was with an intent to dress it; and this proves that man was not born to be idle."
"Work then without disputing," said Martin; "it is the only way to render life supportable."
"The great work of moving the gospel forward has in the past, does now, and will in the future depend upon ordinary members."
When we seek inspiration to help make decisions, the Lord gives gentle promptings. These require us to think, to exercise faith, to work, to struggle at times, and to act. Seldom does the whole answer to a decisively important matter or complex problem come all at once. More often, it comes a piece at a time, without the end in sight.
The most important consequence of the miracle of the garment industry, though, was what happened to the children growing up in those homes where meaningful work was practiced. Imagine what it was must have been like to watch the meteoric rise of Regina and Louis Borgenicht through the eyes of one of their offspring. They learned the same lesson that little Alex Williams would learn nearly a century later - a lesson crucial to those who wanted to tackle the upper reaches of a profession like law or medicine: if you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires.
Those three things - autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward - are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It's whether our work fulfills us. If I offered you a choice between being an architect for $75,000 a year and working in a tollbooth every day for the rest of your life for $100,000 a year, which would you take? I'm guess the former, because there is a complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward in doing creative work, and that's worth more to most of us than money. Work that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful.
The striking thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals," musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any "grinds," people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn't have what it takes to break the top ranks. Their research suggests that once a musician has enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That's it. And what's more, the people at the very top don't work juts hard or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.
The idea that excellence at perforing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researches have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.
"...in study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to acheieve true mastery."
This is true even of people we think of as prodigies.
Without hard work, nothing grown but weeds.
We are experiencing a serious economic downturn. You read of thousands of layoffs. This may be a difficult season for you. You worry much about your personal affairs. You worry about money. You worry about marriage. You worry about the future.
There may be some lean days ahead for some of you. There may be troubles. None of us can avoid them all. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. I finished the University of Utah in 1932. It was the very bottom of the most serious depression of modern times. The unemployment rate in Utah was then more than 30 percent. There was much of cynicism. It was a time when men stood in soup lines, and some committed suicide in despair. But somehow we managed to eat and keep going. Opportunities gradually opened, first here and then there. In 1982, I spoke at the fiftieth anniversary of my graduating class. I met there men and women who had become prominent in many undertakings. They had begun almost in poverty. But they kept climbing upward. They had become leaders. They had looked for the positive in life, praying with faith and working with diligence.
In the game of life a second effort is often required. The happy life is not ushered in at any age to the sound of drums and trumpets. It grows upon us year by year, little by little, until at last we realize that we have it. It is achieved in individuals not by flights to the moon or Mars, but by a body of work done so well that we can lift our heads with assurance and look the world in the eye. Of this be sure: You do not find the happy life … you make it.