Florence Scovel Shinn (see end of article for biographical notes on Florence) devoted her life to helping people recognize the link between their attitudes and their level of happiness. A relaxed state of expectancy, she taught, is the best mindset for bringing success into your life. Sometimes, intensity of desire can actually turn away things that are good for you because it suggests faith only in yourself and not in the higher power that has created you. Few understand the success law that deeply felt, even burning ambitions and desires are most easily realized by allowing them to be realized — a case of "set and forget."
It is hard for the driven person to accept the biblical suggestion to "Have no thought for the morrow." Yet instead of madly pursuing something night and day, it is much more efficient to have a relaxed knowledge that the achievement you desire is pulling you toward it. Be clear about what you want and then have the faith that it will come. Employ what she calls the occult law of indifference: "Your ships come in over a don't care sea." We have all observed that success has its own time frame and often comes quietly when we least expect it.
While it is good to change your outlook so that you expect good things, you must also prepare for them.
You can read as much as you like about prosperity thinking and make affirmations, but this is only "armchair faith," Scovel Shinn says, unless you act prosperously in real life. She recounts the story of a woman who wanted to send her two daughters to college, but clearly did not have the money. However, against her husband's objections that the idea was unreasonable, she went ahead with plans for their enrollment, stating that "some unforeseen good" would occur. As it happened, a rich relative sent her a sum of money that covered all the girls' tuition costs.
Doubt, worries, and living in the past only buttress the walls around your Jericho. Life has a way of shaping itself to our expectations, good or bad, Scovel Shinn says, therefore let your thoughts and actions express relaxed, unwavering faith.
While Scovel Shinn describes prayer as "telephoning to God," she says that intuition is "God telephoning you."
Some people are careful reasoners, relying only on their intellect to solve problems. They "weigh and measure the situation like dealing in groceries," but the solutions they come up with are far from perfect. How often do you wish that you had gone with your hunch on an issue?
At Christmas time a house can be filled with presents, but none is felt to be quite right for the recipient. Consumption without intuition is inevitably wasteful. Asking for guidance, Scovel Shinn says, "always saves time and energy and often a lifetime of misery." Intuition seems magic, because it has the power of Infinite Intelligence behind it. "Unless intuition builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."
Many of the great achievements have been guided by intuition. Scovel Shinn mentions Henry Ford, who never gave up on his feeling that the motor car could be for everyone. Despite his boss and his father thinking it a crazy idea, he persevered, hearing only the voice inside him that said "Do it."
When you come to a fork in the road, follow the voice of intuition. If it is God's role to give you hunches, it is yours to be awake to them and not waste them.
Many times in your life you will feel overwhelmed. This is the perfect time to practice faith over fear.
A woman came to Scovel Shinn with a mess of complications in her life, and was simply told, "Let God juggle the situation." The woman took a leap of faith, imagining the matters out of her hands, and things quickly cleared up. Try to juggle everything yourself and inevitably you drop the balls; what you find so difficult is of course nothing to God. Perfect faith leads to perfect outcomes.
It is easier to have faith with things that matter less to you, but the real successes come when you entrust the big things. How can you remember to buttress this confidence when you need it? If you are beginning to doubt, Scovel Shinn says, say this to yourself: "His ways are ingenious, His methods are sure." Let God take up the burden.
The Secret Door to Success tells the story of a priest on a visit to a French convent, which every day fed many children. However, it had run out of money and the nuns were despairing. Holding up a single piece of silver, one of them told the visitor that this was all they had left to buy food and clothes for the children.
The priest asked for the coin and the nun handed it to him.
He promptly threw it out the window, saying, "Now rely entirely on God." Soon after, people arrived bearing gifts of food and money.
The moral? You don't have to throw away your money or close your bank account, but do not depend on the money you have. Whenever you feel "short," remind yourself: "God is the source of my supply." You don't need to know exactly how you will he provided for; don't limit the channels by which you might receive. The one caveat is that you should ask for what is yours by "divine right."
Many people achieve wealth but then quickly lose it, because it was grasped, not given. To maintain ownership of your investments, remember that they are a manifestation of God for which you must be grateful. Scovel Shinn recalls an old Arabic saying: "What Allah has given cannot be diminished." If you happen to lose money you will not be shattered, knowing that God will soon provide other opportunities.
Don't underestimate the power of words to make or break you financially, Scovel Shinn says, for "Your world is a world of crystallized ideas, crystallized words." Those who speak only of what they lack will therefore end up with little. "You cannot enter the Kingdom of Abundance bemoaning your lot." Instead, you will enter it by being more and more aware of the world's abundance; you can never really feel a state of lack, knowing the truth of the statement that "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want" (Psalms 23:1).
Most people give up just before something great is about to happen to them. Success is a system, Scovel Shinn claims, in which courage and perseverance are important elements. You may be so used to your daily habits and patterns that you wear yourself into a rut. You cease to be aware of the opportunities that arise through being fully present in the moment, and you stop expecting great things.
If there is one overall message to The Secret Door to Success, it is that you must avoid being overwhelmed by life and realize that there is something larger than you that is willing to shoulder the burdens. It is a simple fact that you are constantly "fooled by the darkness before the dawn." If you can live by faith instead of fear, you have found Scovel Shinn's secret door.
Born in 1871 in Camden, New Jersey, Florence Scovel was the daughter of a lawyer. She was educated in Philadelphia and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1889 to 1897, where she met Everett Shinn (1876-1953), a well-known painter. They married after her graduation and moved to New York City to pursue their artistic careers, living near Washington Square.
Florence became an illustrator of popular children's literature in magazines and books, and also a teacher of metaphysics. Her classic, The Game of Life and How to Play It, was self-published in 1925, followed in 1928 by Your Word Is Your Wand. The Secret Door to Success was published shortly before her death in 1940.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Nicholas Brealey Publishing. ©2004. www.nbrealey-books.com
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Tom Butler-Bowdon is recognized as an expert on the personal development literature. His first book 50 SELF-HELP CLASSICS has been hailed as the definitive guide to the literature of possibility. He has spent more than six years researching, reading, and analyzing hundreds of works to compile his guides to the self-help and success classics. A graduate of the London School of Economics and the University of Sydney, he lives and works in both the UK and Australia, and runs a self-help/success website at www.butler-bowdon.com.