Starred Review. In the 1950s, the Edward R. Murrow–hosted radio program This I Believe prompted Americans to briefly explain their most cherished beliefs, be they religious or purely pragmatic. Since the program's 2005 renaissance as a weekly NPR segment, Allison (the host) and Gediman (the executive producer) have collected some of the best essays from This I Believe then and now. "Your personal credo" is what Allison calls it in the book's introduction, noting that today's program is distinguished from the 1950s version in soliciting submissions from ordinary Americans from all walks of life. These make up some of the book's most powerful and memorable moments, from the surgeon whose illiterate mother changed his early life with faith and a library card to the English professor whose poetry helped him process a traumatic childhood event. And in one of the book's most unusual essays, a Burmese immigrant confides that he believes in feeding monkeys on his birthday because a Buddhist monk once prophesied that if he followed this ritual, his family would prosper. There are luminaries here, too, including Gloria Steinem, Warren Christopher, Helen Keller, Isabel Allende, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Updike and (most surprisingly, considering the book's more liberal bent) Newt Gingrich. This feast of ruminations is a treat for any reader. (Oct.)
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Sometimes personal essays are actually inspired by a belief statement or quotation from someone famous that the writer respects. Do any quotations below ring true with what you yourself believe? If so, one of these quotations might offer a thesis around which you can frame a personal essay about an insight that has made a real difference in your own life.
1. "I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you're trying to accomplish, and what you're willing to sacrifice to accomplish it." -Lee Iococca
2. "I know you've heard it a thousand times before. But it's true--hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do it." - Ray Bradbury
3. "If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes." - John Wooden
4. "It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it." - Arnold Toynbee
5. "I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to earth." - Pearl Buck
6. "I don't look to jump over 7-foot bars. I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over." - Warren Buffett
7. "If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life." - Abraham Maslow
8. "If you don't quit, and don't cheat, and don't run home when trouble arrives, you can only win." - Shelley Long
9. "Success in golf depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character." - Arnold Palmer
10. "People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to." - George Allen
BELIEFS OF JOHN WOODEN
Sometimes personal essays are actually inspired by a belief statement or quotation from someone famous that the writer respects. Do any quotations below from the famous UCLA basketball coach ring true with what you yourself believe? If so, one of these quotations might offer a thesis around which you can frame a personal essay about an insight that has made a real difference in your own life.
1.A man may make mistakes, but he isn’t a failure until he starts blaming someone else
2. Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there
3. The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team
4. Young people need models not critics
5. Talent is God given; be humble
Fame is man given; be thankful
Conceit is self-given; be careful
6. The journey is greater than the inn
7. Learn as if you were to live forever
Live as if you were to die tomorrow
8.The true athlete should have character, not be a character
9. Do not let what you CANNOT do interfere with what you CAN do
10. Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are
11. Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out
THINGS I’VE LEARNED………
Personal Essays are based on ideas – insights we’ve learned based on your life experiences. Read the insights expressed by others, and then compose a sentence that expresses one thing you’ve learned about life.
1. I’ve learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing “Silent Night”… Age 6
2. I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back. Age 9
3. I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up. Age 14
4. I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me. Age 15
5. I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it. Age 39
6. I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it. Age 42
7. I’ve learned that you can make some one’s day by simply sending them a little note. Age 44
8. I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others. Age 46
9. I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. Age 48
10. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die. Age 53
11. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. Age 58
12. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. Age 62
13. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back. Age 64
14. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision. Age 66
15. I’ve learned that it pays to believe in miracles. And to tell the truth, I’ve seen several. Age 75
16. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. Age 82
17. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back. Age 85
18. I’ve learned that I sill have a lot to learn. Age 92
THE TOP 10 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM CHARLIE BROWN
by Jim Allen
For 50 years the daily comic strip “Peanuts” entertained millions of readers. Every day, the adventures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and the whole gang provided many laugh-out-loud moments while at the same time offering a daily inspiration and lessons on life. I remember the many lessons they taught me….
1. It’s okay to be afraid…just don’t let your fears control you.
Charlie Brown often sat in bed and spoke of his fears, but no matter how scared he was, he
always did the things he wanted to do.
2. Persistence wins out.
Charlie Brown often lost, failed at much, but he never gave up. Even though he knew Lucy was gong to pull the football away before he could kick it….Even though he knew the tree was going to eat his kite…Even though he knew his team would lose the ball game, he kept on trying.
3. It’s what you think of yourself that matters most.
Linus carried a security blanket for years and his friends laughed at him. They also laughed at him because he believed in the ‘Great Pumpkin.’
Pigpen was a walking cloud of dust and dirt and was often regarded unkindly. Both characters, however, were always proud of themselves and believed they were as good as anybody else—and they were right.
4. Sometimes you need to talk.
One thing the ‘Peanuts’ gang understood was the importance of talking things out. Whether leaning up against Schroeder’s piano or atop the brick wall, they always had someplace to discuss what was of concern to them.
5. Sometimes you need to listen.
Even crabby, self-indulged Lucy knew the importance of listening. She started the famous ‘Psychiatry Booth’ where any and all could come and be heard.
6. Do what you love to do.
Through all their adventures, Schroeder remained constant in his appreciation of Beethoven and his love of playing the piano. He loved to play piano and that’s what he did, regardless of the circumstances. Charlie Brown flew his kite, played baseball and football, not just to win (he knew he wouldn’t), but because he loved to do those things.
7. It’s important to have friends that care.
The ‘Peanuts’ gang was made up of individual characters, each with their own foibles and talents, but through it all they were always there for each other.
8. Big dreams lead to big things! Snoopy was the biggest dreamer of them all, but his wild imagination often led to even wilder, more fantastic adventures in real life. Snoopy knew that you must have a big dream if you are going to lead a big life.
9. Action creates reality.
As Charlie Brown was reminded time and again after prodding from Linus: it takes action to bring about change. Though he often failed, Chuck took action quite regularly….and every now and again things would go his way.
10. Laugh every day!
While the kids themselves may not have seen the humor in the things they did, Schulz made sure that *we* did. Life is only as serious or as humorous as YOU make it….Lighten up. Go play softball. Fly a kite. Dance with your dog. Smile….it makes people wonder what you’re up to.