I originally posted this years ago and thought it was a nice reminder for all of us given the time of year. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a safe and prosperous new year!
By Orison Swett Marden
(from the December 1926 issue of Success Magazine)
If I were asked to express in a single word that, which I believe to be most valuable, most helpful to, human beings, I would say “Love.” It is, indeed, “the greatest thing in the world.” It is the one thing that lifts man’s life to its greatest possible power and beauty. Without love the world is a desert; with love it blossoms like a rose.
The reason why the Christmas season is the most beautiful and joyous of all the year is because the very atmosphere is a-thrill with love. Celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Christ, men are moved by the spirit He brought into the old pagan world. For a few weeks, while the spirit quickens, the modern world is transformed, and Christians vie with one another in emulating Christ’s example. If this spirit could only be nourished and kept alive the whole year, this old earth would be transformed into a new Eden, and men and nations, instead of being ever ready to fly at one another’s throats, would all be working together for the common good.
Things are so constituted in this world that selfishness defeats its own end. Fragrance and beauty do not exist in the unopened bud. It is only when it uncloses its petals and begins to give itself out to others that its loveliness is developed.
Refuse to open your purse and soon you cannot open your sympathy. Refuse to love and you will soon lose the power to love; your affections are paralyzed, your sympathy atrophied from selfish withholding and disuse; the very foundations of your heart dry up and your finer nature petrifies. But the moment you fling open the door of your heart and allow the rose of your sympathy and helpfulness to send out, without stint, its fragrance and beauty upon every passerby, you begin to develop power.
Only through the daily practice of love toward all with whom we come in contact can we win that which is the essence of God Himself – that beautiful spontaneous love for which all hearts hunger.
It will cost us nothing to scatter our flowers as we go along, and we shall never go over just the same road again. No matter how limited our means we can give a smile and a word of cheer to those who minister to our comforts, who help us in our daily work – the newsboy, the conductor, the waiter, the clerk, the porter on the train, those who serve us in our home. Opportunities for these are never lacking and the opportunities let slip to-day will never come back again. Kind words, a smile, a bit of encouragement or inspiration may seem but little things, of no account to many of us, yet they may be worth everything to · some lonely or discouraged soul famishing for sympathy and encouragement. And these little kindnesses by the wayside will come back to us in a thousand ways and give enduring satisfaction, for
“It is in giving, not in seeking gifts we find our quest.”
No one is so poor that he cannot give something. Love, which is the essence of the Christmas spirit, always finds some way to serve, for “love never fails.”
It is only love that can conquer the evils that are disturbing the world to-day. Nothing else can make men bury their differences, lay aside their hatred, their prejudices, their misunderstandings, and work together for the betterment of all.
Science and invention have annihilated distance, dissolved the physical barriers that kept peoples apart and prevented them from knowing one another. Love will dissolve the invisible barriers of the spirit and make every nation and every man see that they can prosper and be happy only in proportion to their observance of the Golden Rule.