Dr. Val Farmer
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Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Thoughts For Trace And Other 2005 Graduates

May 29, 2005

Our seventh and last child, Trace, is graduating from high school this year. All his six siblings are coming to Fargo to help him celebrate. It will be a special occasion for our family. From 1986 till now I have had the privilege of writing graduation advice for each child. This is the last one.To Trace and all the 2005 graduates here are some proven words of wisdom for a successful future:

- Purpose. "There is no road to success but through a strong clear purpose. Nothing can take its place. A purpose underlies character, culture, position, attainment of every sort." - T.T. Munger

"It is an old lesson - a worthy purpose, patient energy for its accomplishment, a resoluteness undaunted by difficulties, and then success." - W. M. Punshon

"The power of applying attention, steady and undissipated, to a single object, is the sure mark of genius." - Chesterfield

- Persistence. "The power to shape the future is earned through persistence. No other quality is as essential to success. It is the sandpaper that breaks down all resistence and sweeps away all obstacles. It is the ability to move mountains one grain of sand at a time." - Anonymous

- Choice. "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. We all make mistakes; we all set out on some detours and pursue some wrong roads; and the dogged presumption - and sometimes perhaps more foolish pride than presumption - that once having started wrong we have to follow through is one of the reasons why people sometimes find themselves in deep and dangerous ruts. All choices of life should be looked at forthrightly, searchingly, sincerely."- Thoreau

- Attitude. "Our lives are not determined by what happens; not by what life brings us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It becomes a catalyst...a spark that causes extraordinary results." - Anonymous

- Hope. Hope befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination." - Samuel Smiles

"Very strange is this quality of human nature which decrees that unless we feel a future before us, we do not live completely in the present. (Human nature) always must look forward." - Phillip Brooks

- Adversity. "None knows the weight of another’s burden. You may search all the ages for a person who has no problems. You may look through the streets of Heaven, asking each one how he came there, and you will look in vain everywhere for a man morally and spiritually strong, whose strength did not come from struggle. Do not suppose that there is any man who has never wrestled with his own success and happiness. There is no exception anywhere. Every true strength is gained in struggle." - George Herbert.

- Happiness. "People are happy not because of what they do, but because of how they do it. The best activities are those that allow for growth over a lifetime, create new opportunities for action, and stimulate the development of new skills. Happiness that is not earned isn’t happiness. Happiness is not something that happens to us but something we make happen." - Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Happiness and virtue rest upon each other; the best are not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best. We lose the peace of years when we hunt after the rapture of moments." - Bulwer

- Pride. "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud; the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone." - C. S. Lewis

"I have been more and more convinced, the more I think about it, that, in general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes." - Ruskin

- Family. "If you want the experience of having responsibility for another human being and learn how to love and bond in the deepest way, then you should have children." -Morrie Schwartz - "Tuesdays with Morrie."

- Charity. "Charity is never lost; it may meet with ingratitude, or be of no service to those on whom it was bestowed, yet it ever does a work of beauty and grace on upon the heart of the giver." - Conyers Middleton

- Time. "The people I respect most behave as if they were immortal and as if society were eternal. Both assumptions must be accepted if we allow a few breathing holes for the human spirit."- E.M. Forster

"...It takes a sense of eternity to make one realize that there is time, time to be available and to create." - Theologian Martin Marty

"Live each day as if it were your last. Live each day as if it were an eternity." - Algerian proverb

- Destiny. "Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny." - Anonymous

And one final thought of my own.

- Spirituality. Know that you are a son or daughter of God and that He loves you, is mindful of you and wants you to be happy. Search for Him, know Him, live with faith, and seek the truth of the universe.