Sage or Sad Elitist? Self-help guru, Samuel Smiles.

You may know the expression “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” It’s the kind of saying that would regularly trip off the tongues of grandmas.
What you may not know is that it was coined by a nineteenth century Scottish government reformer, Samuel Smiles. He attacked materialism, concluding that changing attitudes would have more impact on progress than new laws.

Sound familiar?

Much of his argument however is highly questionable as it put the blame for poverty firmly at the feet of the ‘undeserving poor’. His book ‘Self-Help’ published in 1859 promoted thrift and stated that it was irresponsible habits that caused poverty.

Despite this many of his thoughts are still of use today, being uplifting or inspirational. I’d like to share some of them here:

Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.

We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.

Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.

Life will always be to a large extent what we ourselves make it.

Enthusiasm … the sustaining power of all great action.

Progress, of the best kind, is comparatively slow. Great results cannot be achieved at once; and we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk, step by step.

Love him or loathe him, he coined many phrases and published many ideas that we use and find pertinent today. The secret is to sift the gem from the bias.