They Can Who Think They Can

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Tuesday, August 20, 1912: Oh I don’t know as it is worth the while to write anything about what I did today. It wasn’t very much anyway.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Sounds like Grandma had a boring (but maybe somewhat frustrating) day. Did Grandma think positive thoughts on such days?

Here’s some a gem  that I found in a hundred-year-old magazine:

They Can Who Think They Can

Learn to look at the bright side, the good things in life. Do not let the shadow of discouragement and despondency fall on your path. Never doubt for a moment that everything is not for the best in the end. If you believe firmly in yourself you will be given the strength to do some day what may now seem to be impossible.

Don’t get frightened and give up in despair if you do not arrive as soon as you would like. All conquerors of the best kind are slow, but to him who works faithfully and in the right spirit will be given the reward in good time.

Hold up your head and look the world in the face. Hold your ground and march bravely forward over all obstacles and the world will make way for you.

National  Food Magazine (June, 1912)

12 Responses

  1. You have me thinking of Monty Python’s song ‘Alway’s Look on the Bright Side of Life’.

    What I find interesting is that you found this gem in a food magazine.

    • It seems like many magazines had a broader range of articles a hundred years ago than they typically do now. Farm magazines like Farm Journal had women’s sections–and a magazines like National Food Magazine had a wide range of family living articles. I guess that since reading material was scarcer back then, that the magazines were less targeted than they do now.

  2. Sometimes I think your Grandmother likes to post when she can use words in a new way… or say something that will bring her a bit of humor when she reads it later… or to say something that she wouldn’t necessarily say out loud. On a day like today… there seems to be just “ordinary” … so much ordinary that she would have had to have been in a different frame of mind to write about it.

  3. That’s a great little pep-talk, good be very applicable even today. Might have to pin that one on the fridge.

  4. My grandmother’s scrap book is full of these kinds of cheery clippings.

    • These types of upbeat advice apparently were more popular a hundred years ago than they are now. When I browse through old magazines some still seem really relevant and I find myself quoting them; while others seem so boring and of-the-mark that I can’t read more than a few words.

  5. Every once in awhile, my 2x great grandfather would write –“did nothing today,” which in a way was as intriguing as when he would say, “planted beets.” However, 150 years later, i thrill to reading the words written so long ago—planted beets, did nothing, went to Madison have a special music that rings in my head.

    • I agree, “did nothing” can almost be more intriguing than when she wrote about the various things that happened in her daily life. It seems like she was in a different mood on the “did nothing” days than on days when she wrote about something of substance.

  6. Love the advice. Do you find yourself responding to the question of “what have you been up to lately ” with “nothing much”. We do tend to underestimate the ordinary things we do.

    • I do often say “nothing much” when someone asks what I’ve been doing. Sometimes I think that I say it because I feel like the person asking just wants a perfunctory response, rather than a real answer.

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