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Be Good To Yourself

The Quarreling Habit

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The habit of haggling, arguing, and quarreling over trifles, or splitting hairs, especially when people are tired, destroys health and character. I have known large families, after a hard day's work, to spend a whole evening quarreling over some trivial matter which did not amount to anything.

Fagged and jaded after the day's work, the mental irritation and discord set in motion in the tired brain completely exhausted them, and of course, their sleep was troubled and they rose the next morning haggard and worn, with no freshness or spontaneity for the new day's work. They felt as though they had been out on a debauch.

When shall we learn that harmony is the only condition under which strength of body and beauty of life can be developed? One's best work cannot be done under friction, nor in a black, heavy, thunder cloud atmosphere. There must be sunshine and good cheer and a happy environment to bring the best out of us. The faculties do not work normally when there is even a little bit of discord.

Perfect harmony gives strength of purpose, concentration of mind, and effectiveness of execution. There must be liberty—no sense of suffocation or restraint or repression—in an atmosphere which develops the best in an individual.

Many an invalid today owes his or her wretchedness and practical failure in life to quarreling, fault finding, and the bickering habit. Irritation, friction, or discord of any description, is a great enemy of strength, health, and happiness, while absolute harmony of character and environment is friendly to all worthy achievement.

In thousands of homes we see gnarled, crippled, starved, stingy lives, which have never developed into their greatest possibilities; lives which have never blossomed out or come to fruitage because of being in a vicious atmosphere, an atmosphere full of discord, criticism, scolding, and constant repression. No one can do good work when feeling a sense of suffocation or strangulation.

How many boys have been driven away from home or into bad company by nagging! How many girls have gone astray or rushed into unfortunate marriages because they were so nagged or criticized at home that any other place on earth seemed preferable! It was always, "Don't do this," or "Why don't you do that?" until the high-spirited boy got so tired of "don'ts" that he preferred the saloon, the grocery store, or the street corner to home, and the sensitive girl was so goaded by the constant picking of a nagging tongue that at last her whole soul rose in rebellion, and she sought relief elsewhere.

Young people resent being lectured or corrected all the time. Nor do they thrive under constant repression. All healthy young souls crave encouragement and praise. They will do anything for a father, mother, or teacher who gives them wise words of appreciation and encouragement, or who urges them to do their best by other means than fault-finding.

Parents who indulge in the nagging habit often excuse themselves by saying that it is their love for the child that prompts their eternal strictures and criticisms, and that their "don'ts" are really for the loved one's best interests. Love which displays itself in such a fashion is apt to remind one of the couplet, -"Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love, But why did you kick me downstairs?"

Nagging may be loving in disguise, but in a disguise so unlovely that most people will agree with the writer who said, "There is not a bit of love in the nag, however much the nagger may talk about affection. It is full of unrest and friction and selfishness."

A fault-finding, criticizing habit is fatal to all excellence. Nothing will strangle growth quicker than a tendency to hunt for flaws, to rejoice in the unlovely, like a hog which always has his nose in the mud and rarely looks up. The direction in which we look indicates the life aim, and people who are always looking for something to criticize, for the crooked and the ugly, who are always suspicious, who invariably look at the worst side of others, are but giving the world a picture of themselves.

This disposition to see the worst instead of the best grows on one very rapidly, until it ultimately strangles all that is beautiful and crushes out all that is good in oneself. No matter how many times your confidence has been betrayed, do not allow yourself to sour, do not lose your faith in people. The bad are the exceptions; most people are honest and true, and mean to do what is right.

There are businessmen who get into the habit of finding fault with everything and growling at everybody that it becomes second nature with them. If they happen to see anything out of place, or if something is not done just as they wish it done, instead of quietly calling attention to it, they yield to the first hasty impulse to scold and growl and find fault, until they make everybody about them uneasy.

As far as remedying the defects of which its complaints are concerned, this constant growling is a complete failure, for every employee soon finds out that it is a habit, and after a while pays no attention to it, and is in no way affected by it, except that it embarrasses them when criticized or scolded before others. In the end it really tends to make them more careless and indifferent.

The effect of the growling habit on those who indulge in it is much more disastrous. It has ruined many a naturally good disposition and soured the whole life. It is a fatal leak in one's mental reservoir by which a great deal of vitality is drained off. It never did and never will accomplish anything but harm.

It is as impossible for growling or scolding or perpetual fault-finding to do good as it is for harmony to come from discord. It does nothing but create discord, and no good can come from discord of any kind any more than it can come from hatred, revenge, or jealousy.

A growler does little else in the world except to fling dark shadows into someone's sky, to cut off their sunlight, to thrust ugliness before their eyes, to mar their harmony, and to destroy their own peace of mind. He or she does not believe in saying kind things, or in praising or encouraging anyone. He or she thinks that when things go wrong the only way to set them right is to scold and criticize and find fault. It is as foolish to expect to set wrong right in this way as it would be for a fireman to expect to put out a fire by pumping kerosene oil upon it through his hose.

Most of the cruelty of the world is thoughtless cruelty. Very few people would intentionally add to another's load or make their burden in life heavier or their path rougher. Most of the great heart-wounds are inflicted by thoughtless thrusts, flung out often in a moment of anger, when, perhaps, we were too proud to apologize or to try to heal the grievous wounds we had made.

Can anything be more cruel than to discourage a soul who is struggling to do the best they can, to throw stumbling-blocks in the path of one who is trying to get on in the world against great odds?

No life is just the same after you have once touched it; will you leave a ray of hope or one of despair, a flash of light or a somber cloud across some dark life each day? Will you by thoughtless cruelty deepen the shadow which hangs over the life, or will you by kindness dispel it altogether? No matter how you feel or what is disturbing your peace of mind, never allow yourself to send out a discouraging, a cruel, or an unkind word or thought.

The gloom caster, the shadow thrower, the faultfinder, the sarcastic person, the person who is always giving you a thrust somewhere, does a vast amount of harm in a community. People who throw gloomy shadows wherever they go, who depress everybody, who are always looking on the dark side of everything, who see little good or beauty in life, are bad neighbors, and, as a rule, are unsuccessful, unpopular, and little mourned when they die.

It is the inspirer, the person who cheers and gives you hope and encouragement, the sunshine bearer, the person who always has a kind word for you, who is ever ready to give you their hand and their help, that is loved during life and missed after death.

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