Why avoid being critical of others?

A girl laughing at her boyfriend.

“Have you ever heard such expressions as:

Who does she think she is?” or, “That’s not so wonderful. I could have done better myself”?

No doubt all of us have, and yet how much better it would be if such things went unsaid! Or, better than that, if one did not even have such critical thoughts!

What causes some to have critical thoughts about others?

Well, another person may be getting undue attention, or may be receiving high praise.

Or it could be that another may betray an eagerness for attention and praise. So it may be that in one’s reaction to the situation a tinge of envy is involved.

Even if not expressed in words, critical thoughts, nevertheless, can do harm. They tend to deteriorate relations with others.

They may also do harm to the one that thinks them. This is because that which affects the mind also affects the body.

Among the unkind thoughts that we ought to guard against are those that show undue suspicion. Why?

In dealing with friends, relatives, close associates and, in particular, with family members, it is better to trust others.

Even if problems arise, give them the benefit of the doubt. It is better to be disappointed occasionally than to be unduly suspicious, as though everyone were ready to take advantage of you.

Many husbands and wives make their lives unhappy because of being unduly suspicious of each other.

How much happier their marriage would be if they made it a point to think of each other in a kindly way!

Especially as regards our view of the motives of other people should we be on guard against having critical thoughts and always questioning the motives of others. What is the danger in this?

Well there is always the danger of trying to prove one’s suspicions true, and thus making oneself the adversary of others unnecessarily.

Critical thoughts also result from expecting too much of others.

It is good to realize that what may seem small and insignificant to us may represent a great victory or achievement on the part of another.

In homes where there is a “generation gap,” is it not largely due to parents being too critical of their children, and children being too critical of their parents?

They could well learn from the Turkish proverb: “He who seeks a friend without a fault will be without one.”

Especially is there need for travelers to be on guard against unduly critical thoughts when they visit foreign lands.

Strange sights and customs may well cause one to compare unfavorably what one sees with conditions in one’s own land.

Instead, would it not be better to exercise empathy, putting oneself in the shoes of others, as it were?

Doing so, one will be able to make allowances, recognizing to what extent the people are the victims of circumstances.

Rightly viewed, one can sincerely admire them for what they are able to accomplish under existing conditions.

Learn to enjoy what others do by noting their good points instead of being overly conscious of their shortcomings.

Do not be like the foolish person who, noting a speaker’s repetition of a certain expression, kept counting how many times the speaker used it.

How much more he would have benefited from the talk if he had concentrated on the arguments presented and appreciated the speaker’s sincerity!

So, for your own sake and in the interest of good relations with other people guard against critical thoughts.

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How to make any type of work a blessing?

A janitor a toilet mirror.
Can any type of work be a blessing to you? "

Yes, rightly viewed and unless conditions are too burdensome, work is a blessing. And that is true for more than one reason, even as facts show.

For one thing, work is a blessing because by means of it we can honestly supply our needs. More than that, there is more satisfaction in having earned something than in having received it as a gift.

There is no question but what the unemployed man who is sincerely looking for work appreciates that work is a blessing.

The blessing of work is not limited to its supplying us with what we need in a material way—food, clothing, shelter, recreation, and so forth. We need work for our own well-being, both of body and mind.

We are endowed with the capacity for work, both physical and mental, and for true satisfaction and contentment we must make use of the gifts with which we have been endowed.

That is why a person who earns his bread primarily by his thinking ability rather than by the use of his muscles finds that for sound health he needs to have some physical exertion.

Well has it been observed: “Working is as much a necessity to a man as eating and sleeping.”

It is, in fact, the best justification for eating and sleeping. As much as we enjoy a weekend or Sabbath of rest or a much-needed vacation, we could not enjoy resting indefinitely.

Oh, you might think, If only I did not need to go to work Monday morning! Or, If only I had as many weeks of vacation as I could wish!

All well and good for a few days or weeks, but before long you would simply long to do something useful.

We cannot escape it. We need the joy and satisfaction that come from doing good and useful work.

True, not everyone can have the work he would most like to do.

It may be that such work is not in demand, or does not pay sufficiently; or one may not have the necessary qualifications, such as the second violinist who would like to be conducting the orchestra.

But each one can take an interest, and should, in the work he finds it necessary to do to earn a livelihood for himself and those dependent upon him.

Most important is that your work be honest and need doing.

View it as presenting a challenge to you to keep doing ever better work or to do it ever more efficiently, and that whether you are a professional man or a laborer, an office worker or a housekeeper.

Experience the joy and satisfaction that come from doing a good job, be it typing a business letter or repairing a piece of machinery, cooking a meal or cleaning rooms.

Because so many fail to appreciate the blessing that work can bring when viewed in this manner, today more and more the emphasis is solely on the wages or salary received, the fringe benefits and the limited hours.

This does not make for happiness but, rather, is self-defeating. How so?

Because the more they get the more they want, as can be seen from the ever higher demands of many unions; and the fewer hours spent the fewer they want to work.

The truth of the foregoing is borne out by many persons engaged in creative work, such as artists and writers.

It is also proved true by many professional persons, such as educators and general practitioners, who could turn to some other activity for more pay but who remain in their profession because of the rewards that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

According to a former staff writer, it is against their policy to discharge a writer once they have hired him.

Instead, if his work is not good enough, they put him to work on some mammoth project that they never intend to use, and eventually the writer quits out of sheer frustration and feeling of uselessness.

Just receiving the pay check was not enough; the writer also needed the inner sense of satisfaction of producing something worthwhile.

So, since work needs to be done and you need to work to supply your needs as well as for your own well-being, take an interest in your work, get joy and satisfaction out of doing good work.

Then you will agree that work is a blessing!

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Why is freedom for all elusive?

A man yearning for freedom.
Do you want to be free? Likely you do. Indeed, every sane person wants to be free."

Freedom is a most desirable condition for humans. This means the freedom really to enjoy life.

Then why does freedom for all not exist in this world?

Well, this is because some people do not appreciate the fundamental truth that there has to be respect for law and order by all for such freedom to be enjoyed by all.

Let us look at some examples to illustrate this:

Freedom at Home, on Streets elusive

However, if you live in one of these lands commonly regarded as free, ask yourself: Do you feel free to walk down any street at night?

Do you feel free to enjoy any park after dark? Do you feel free to leave the doors and windows of your home unlocked?

Even in the most democratic lands, large segments of the population are fearful of walking down dark streets. They avoid parks at night.

They have locks on the doors and windows of their homes. And their places of business are similarly protected. Is this freedom?

In fact fear has become a dominant factor in the many people’s life. Small-town residents hesitate to visit the big cities. Women are afraid to go out at night.

Many city-factory areas have become ghostly armed camps at night, with dogs, searchlights and alarm systems alerted against intruders.

More home doors are locked. The old breezy reception of strangers is contracting. Assault is accepted as a normal risk.

Even in suburban areas and small towns, people often do not feel secure in their own homes because of mounting crime and violence.

Thus, even in “free” countries large segments of the population live as though they were being besieged by an enemy army. Really, then, how free are persons who have to live like that?

Freedom in school elusive

Throughout the world, high schools, colleges and even grade schools are plagued by disorders. Students who want to proceed with their education are at times denied that freedom by the disruption.

In many countries, some schools have been shut down for long periods because of protests and rioting.

In one city a band of about twenty youths invaded a high school during classes. They tied two teachers to their chairs and taped their mouths shut.

The youths then harangued students with political tirades. In another instance, a group of demonstrators was invited into the school to discuss grievances.

While the talks were in progress, several of the group went into classrooms and told the children to go home.

In many other instances, teachers have been assaulted, students intimidated, classes broken up. In one city, it is reported; teachers are so terrified that three out of four now carry guns to class!

Without a doubt many student protesters are genuinely disgusted with the horrible conditions in the world. They see injustices, prejudice, poverty, war, and they are indignant.

Yet, other students also feel incensed at these things but do not choose to resort to disruption or violence. They want to be able to continue their education.

So when the forms of redressing grievances disrupt classes or result in violence and injury, is this not an interference with the freedom of other students? Is it freedom when teachers quit out of fear?

Economic freedom elusive

The economic situation also works against freedom in many cases today. For example, is everyone really free to do work that he wants and enjoys?

How many people do you know who actually have the kind of work that brings them genuine satisfaction?

Is it not a fact that people more often work at what they can get, or what pays better, rather than at what they really like?

Even those who may prefer a certain trade sometimes find themselves unable to use it because of various policies of management or labor unions. Is this freedom?

Also, how free are you even to breathe fresh air? Million tons of pollutants are now spewed into the air each year, most of it potentially lethal gases.

Large corporations continue to pollute the air even when there are laws against it.

They merely pay the fine, which is usually small, and go right on polluting. Is endangering the health of others not a perversion of freedom?

Freedom at sports events elusive

When one baseball team won the title in their division, their fans rejoiced. But then what happened?

The New York Times reported:

The Shea Stadium playing field looked like the pock-marked surface of the moon yesterday. But no American flag was flying, because it had been stolen. In fact, almost everything not tacked down was snatched by rampaging fans.”

The head grounds keeper said in disbelief:

I've never seen damage to a field to this extent. From 1,000 to 1,500 feet of the sod on the playing field was ripped out, taken as “souvenirs” by the crowd. And the field was littered with papers and cans.”

Does freedom mean that one has the right to seize and destroy the property of others?

If your neighbor ripped out your lawn, defaced the walls of your house, smashed the windows and stole your furniture, would you regard these actions as expressions of freedom? Or would you regard them as criminal acts?

Freedoms have to be within a framework of law and order

True freedom does not mean the absence of laws that are right and beneficial. To enjoy freedom safely it must be within the framework of law.

The universe is kept in marvelous harmony by the laws in operation. These laws work for the good of humans.

For instance, do you feel oppressed by gravity? It keeps you from flying off the earth to certain death. It enables you to move about without the constant strain of weightlessness.

However, what if you were to deliberately ignore the law of gravity and jump from a high building? You would fall to your death or be severely injured.

You cannot ignore these laws without paying a penalty. Yet, when you work within their framework, you reap the benefits.

If there were no laws to govern the universe, nature would be in anarchy. Human life would soon be extinguished.

How grateful we should be for these dependable laws!

Because of them we know that the sun will come up each day. The earth will continue in its proper orbit, with proper tilt and rotation.

Humans cannot liberate themselves from laws. They either enjoy freedoms within their law bounds, or ignore them, to their own hurt.

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How to enjoy studying?

A girl enjoying her studies.
Do you find study enjoyable? Or do you consider it unpleasant work that you try to avoid?"

Some persons who now enjoy study did not at one time. But they cultivated the ability to enjoy it. Most persons can do the same if they want to.

How? If you are a person who does not find joy in study now, what steps can you take to work toward that end?

And by study, we mean time spent studying on your own, apart from group or class studies.

Proper motivation

The first step in cultivating joy in study is perhaps the most important. It is having the proper motivation, having strong reasons why you should study. This will build up in you a desire to study.

In this regard the book Effective Study notes of its study suggestions:

It has been found that the student must sincerely desire to improve his study skills before these projects can be of much assistance. Mere exposure to such a program will not help him.”

If someone told you to dig a deep hole in the ground, but that you definitely would not find anything of value, would you enjoy the digging?

But what if you were guaranteed to find all the gold and silver needed to assure you financial security?

Your digging would be much more enjoyable because you would know it would be rewarding. You would have real motivation for digging.

Finding time to study

Instead of picking up study material at random, have in mind what it is you need to study. Plan definite times for the kind of study to be done.

Then the time spent will be more productive. Without such a plan, it would be like a carpenter hammering nails at random with no objective in mind.

But when study is mentioned, many persons say: “Oh, if only I had more time to study. I just can’t seem to find the time!

In today’s busy world, you will not likely find time that is not already being used. You need to determine that your study is so vital that you will take time from other activities.

First, analyze the time you devote to nonessential things. For example, if you have a TV set, how much time do you spend watching it?

How much time do you spend going to movies, making “small talk” over the phone, or in other nonessential activities?

If you actually wrote down the number of hours involved, you might be shocked to see how much time you really have.

This is not to say that proper recreation is wrong. Recreation adds to the enjoyment of life. But is such enjoyment so important that some of that time, if necessary, cannot be devoted to learning?

Working for a living, keeping house clean, and such activities are considered among the “essential” things of life

What is needed is balance. This certainly includes taking care of our families, our daily needs, and can include recreation as well.

True, if you are not used to a good study schedule, you may find an evening, or even two hours beyond your capacity.

Then, why not start with a lesser period, say a half hour? As you adjust to it you can lengthen the time so more is accomplished.

The key is not just setting the time aside, but sticking to it regularly. Let nothing but an emergency take you away from that period.

If people call on the phone, you can say you are busy, and then call back later. If they want to visit, you can suggest another time.

As others become aware that this is your time for study, they will respect it. So should members of your immediate family.

Then there are other periods that can be redeemed, such as when we ride a bus, subway or train, or are waiting for an appointment. Many use this time profitably to reading or studying.

It is far better to have regular daily periods, even if short, to read the than to wait for an entire evening that may never come. Even ten to fifteen minutes each day can be richly rewarding.

Some make this reading the first thing they do on arising in the morning. Others do this reading every night just before going to bed.

In conclusion

Remember that study should include meditation. Study without meditation is like eating without digesting. Hence, ponder over what you study.

Try to relate it to other things that you know. How does it affect your life? How can you use it to help others?

Learn to pay attention to details. Talk to others about what you learn. Share your new discoveries. This, too, will build up the delight you find in what you study.

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Can the war on drugs be won?

A picture of an illegal drug.

Winning the war on drugs is a laudable goal, but it is no easy task. Two powerful engines drive the illicit drug train—supply and demand.

For nearly a century, governments and police forces have concentrated on cutting back the supply. Their assumption was simple: No drugs, no drug addicts.

Attacking the supply

Toward this end, police drug squads have confiscated large consignments of drugs, and international collaboration has led to the detention of prominent drug traffickers. 

But the harsh reality is that while effective policing may force some drug traffickers to move elsewhere, seek other markets, or become more ingenious, it does not stop them.

 “We will never be a match for the drug dealers as long as they have unlimited funds and we have to fight budget wars,” admitted one narcotics expert.

A crime-prevention officer of the Gibraltar Police Force, speaks about the difficulty of controlling drug trafficking between Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.

We impounded nearly 400 kilos [880 pounds] of cannabis resin, most of this wasn't actually confiscated from drug traffickers; it was found floating in the sea or washed up on the beaches. That gives you some idea of the huge quantity of drugs that cross the Strait of Gibraltar every year. What we confiscate is just the tip of the iceberg. The haulers who do the run from Africa to Spain have speedboats that can run rings around our customs launch. And if they sense that they are in danger of being apprehended, they just throw the drugs overboard, so we have no evidence on which to charge them.”

Police face similar problems in other parts of the world. Ordinary-looking travelers, light airplanes, container ships, and even submarines smuggle drugs across oceans or through porous frontiers.

One United Nations report calculated that “at least 75 percent of international drug shipments would need to be intercepted in order to substantially reduce the profitability of drug trafficking.” 

At present, the rate of interception is probably not much higher than 30 percent for cocaine—and considerably less for other drugs.

So why don’t the governments attack the problem at its source and destroy all the cannabis crops, opium poppies, and coca bushes? 

The United Nations has recently recommended that step, but it is not an easy one. Cannabis can be grown in almost any garden. 

One major coca-growing area in the Andes is located in a region described as “outside state control.” Similar situations exist in remote areas of Afghanistan and Burma, which are principal sources of opium and heroin.

To complicate matters further, drug traffickers can easily switch to designer drugs, for which there is a growing demand. 

And clandestine laboratories can manufacture these synthetic drugs almost anywhere in the world.

Could more effective policing and stiffer prison sentences curtail the drug trade? 

There are just too many drug pushers, too many addicts, and too few policemen to make that method workable. 

The United States, for example, has close to two million people behind bars—many of them for drug offenses. 

But the threat of prison has not hindered people from taking drugs. 

In many developing countries where drug sales are booming, undermanned and poorly paid police forces find themselves helpless to stem the tide.

Can the demand for drugs be reduced?

If efforts to control the drug supply have proved futile, what about reducing the demand? 

The Time magazine states:

The war on drugs is really a battle for hearts and minds, and not merely an issue for police and courts and jails,” 

That is why some believe that education is the only way to combat illegal drugs. The crime-prevention officer mentioned above says:

Drug addiction is a social problem created by society, so we have to change society or at least change people’s way of thinking. We are trying to involve schools, parents, and teachers so that all will be aware that the danger is there, that drugs are available, and that their children could fall victim.”

Finding a global solution that will work

A few courageous traffickers have abandoned the drug trade. And various forms of rehabilitation have helped thousands of users to overcome their addiction. 

But, as the World Drug Report acknowledges, 

for the long-term, heavy drug user, sustained abstinence is the exception rather than the rule.” 

Sadly, for each addict who is rehabilitated, several new victims are ensnared. Supply and demand keep on growing.

If the war on drugs is to be won, there must be a global solution because the problem is already a global one. 

In this regard the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs notes: 

While drug abuse, drug trafficking and the criminality connected to the drug problem were in most countries perceived as one of the main threats to security, the public was less aware of the fact that illicit drugs were a global problem that could no longer be solved by national efforts alone.”

But will the governments of the world band together to eradicate this global scourge? Only time will tell.

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How should you view material possessions?

A house full of expensive items.
Can you imagine a house literally full of thousands expensive items of all kinds and varieties?"

But, strangely enough, our getting full enjoyment from these material provisions—in fact, our getting full enjoyment from life itself—depends very much on our not making them the big thing in our lives.

How can that be? It is because there are other things that are so much more valuable than material possessions.

You can probably remember how, when you were quite small, you became very upset and maybe even ‘threw a tantrum’ when some other child wanted to play with a toy of yours.

Looking back, that attitude probably seems foolish to you now. Your sense of values has improved.

But it is easy to slip back into that childish way if we are not on guard. We need to keep reminding ourselves of what really matters in life.

You doubtless know some people that give a lot of importance to material possessions.

To some, for example, having the latest tech items on the market, very expensive items of clothing or living in a posh neighborhood is what they seem to prize the most.

Some put far more interest in those things than they do in their schooling, their families or anything else. 

They may also tend to evaluate others, yourself included, by what these have in the way of such material possessions. Does this make sense?

Stop and think about it. Does your having or not having such material possessions really make any difference in what you are as a person?

Are you a better person if you have them, or a worse person if you do not?

Actually, the most valuable possessions, the ones that really determine your worth as a person and the ones that can bring you the most satisfaction and happiness, are of a different kind.

Can you think of what some of these more valuable possessions would be?

Possessions that can bring more happiness

What about knowledge? Compare the value, say, of knowing another language with owning the latest home cinema or high powered stereo music machine. 

True, with those items you can enjoy hearing other people talk and sing—in your language.

But with knowledge of a second language you yourself might be in position to talk with as many as one hundred million more people on earth than you can with just the language you presently know.

If you ever had opportunity to travel to other lands, such knowledge could add immensely to your enjoyment of the trip—far more than watching it on TV.

Similarly with getting knowledge of how to do things such as learning how to be a good cook or a capable seamstress or an able carpenter or to be good at making mechanical repair.

These could be of far greater future value to you in doing something worthwhile in your life, for yourself and for others, than having certain material possessions.

Think, too, how much more valuable a good name or reputation is than having material possessions.

If you are known for being unselfish, honest, diligent, reliable and respectful, that can make you a welcome sight far more than any special kind of clothes could ever do.

Such a reputation can cause you to be sought after as a valuable friend or as a workmate or employee.

It can bring invitations from persons to visit them or to do things with them, to share their good things with them. Would this not solve any problem of loneliness far better than even a television set?

Really, so much of our happiness in life depends on having the assurance that we are appreciated, that we matter to others and that we contribute something to their lives that they would miss if we were not living.

Being rich in fine qualities will cause you to be appreciated far more by the best of people than would your being rich in material possessions.

Are not genuine friends far more valuable than material possessions?

True, when one has certain material possessions they may seem to give a lot of “prestige” in groups, and others may flock around to enjoy these, like flies flock around food.

But when the food is gone, the flies go. And many so-called “friends” are the same.

You might have a lavish lifestyle or even the latest car on the market and this might attract other people to you.

But what if you lose that attractive possession or what if someone else gets a better, more modern or a fancier car, how many of those “friends” will stay with you?

But true friends will appreciate you for what you are and not for what you have.

Realize, too, that such things as knowledge, a fine personality and genuine friends are things that cannot be stolen nor do they wear out and lose their value with time and use.


So, then, why let the present commercial systems with their high-powered advertising pressure you into building your life around material possessions?

Why enrich them and in the end impoverish yourself as far as the really worthwhile things in life are concerned?

Why not show real strength to resist the pull of materialism and show determination to get the most out of life by seeking things of greater value than material possessions?

Not that we should be without any possessions at all. But we do not want them to run our life.

And we should be able to distinguish between possessions that will really contribute to genuine happiness and those that actually could hinder our gaining that goal.

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