Friday, August 4, 2017

Samuel Smiles on the Art of Living


Have you ever read Samuel Smiles? If not, you should. Smiles was a Scottish writer who lived during the Victorian age. He longed for government reform but eventually began to write books for the individual, believing that a nation could rise no higher than the level of its people. I have read his book, Self-Help, several times, as well as one I'm going back to right now called Thrift. All of these are available for free through Google books and sometimes Amazon Kindle.

There are so many gems in Thrift which are worthy of mention, but today I'd like to focus in on a passage from a chapter entitled, "The Art of Living."

"The Art of Living deserves a place among the Fine Arts. Like Literature, it may be ranked within the Humanities. It is the Art of turning the means of living to the best account, of making the best of everything. It is the art of extracting from life its highest enjoyment, and through it, of reaching its highest results.

To live happily, the exercise of no small degree of art is required. Like poetry and painting, the art of living comes chiefly by nature; but all can cultivate and develop it. It can be fostered by parents and teachers, and perfected by self-culture. Without intelligence, it cannot exist.

Happiness is not, like a large and beautiful gem, so uncommon and rare, that all search for it is vain, all efforts to obtain it hopeless; but it consists of a series of smaller and commoner gems, grouped and set together, forming a pleasing and graceful whole. Happiness consists in the enjoyment of little pleasures scattered along the common path of life, which, in the eater search for some great and exciting joy, we are apt to overlook. It finds delight in the performance of common duties, faithfully and honourably fulfilled."

I would like to start a series on a few different ways that Smiles continued to define as the Art of Living and apply them to our modern day lives. As someone who is living on a restricted income, I find his ideas surprisingly applicable to our own situation and hope others will too.

Until my next post, I'll leave you with one more inspiring quote he included in this chapter:



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