Posted by: Dahni | April 20, 2008


Hand holding key






       The Key to Success

What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

-author is not certain[i]


Know what you want and go get it    


Just Imagine,


 [i]   This quote is almost certainly not from Emerson, though it is often attributed to him. I have never been able to find it in any of Emerson’s writings, nor have anyone else to my knowledge.

   Presently, it seems that the quote may be traceable to a 1905 publication by a Bessie Stanley. Apparently, in a collection of quotations on “success,” her poem appeared on the facing page from a quotation which was from Emerson. Perhaps the mistaken attribution began when someone copied the source inaccurately from that collection. Here’s a 1905 article from the Lincoln Sentinel (Lincoln County Kansas), about that version of the quote: Bessie Stanley’s Famous Poem

Lincoln Sentinel November 30, 1905

“What Constitutes Success”
A $250 Prize Story by a Lincoln Woman

   A few weeks ago Mrs. A.J. Stanley at the earnest solicitation of Mr. Stanley wrote an essay on “What constitutes success” for entrance in a contest carried on by the George Livingston Richards Co. of Boston, Mass. It was required that the essay should be confined to 100 words and should be the best definition of what constituted success, neatness and several of the requirements being taken into consideration. The essay was entered in competition with hundreds of others from all parts of the country. Last Saturday when Mrs. Stanley was notified that she had won the first prize of $250 she did not credit the good news and laughing told Mr. Stanley he could have half. An accompanying draft furnished satisfactory proof. Below we give Mrs. Stanley’s essay on “What Constitutes Success.”

 “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”

     Bessie Stanley’s poem, though, is a bit different from the standard quotation attributed to Emerson — and so there is still some tiny possibility that the quotation is Emerson’s or someone else’s and that Stanley’s was a variation.  At this time, though, the most dependable attribution would be to Bessie Stanley, with the changes attributable to the normal folk process of adaptation and editing. 

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