"Okay. I am eating sardines and Vienna sausages."
"In the sand."
Jones smiled. "I thought so." Nodding then, he said again, "I thought so. Well, the books will help, but I believe I can help as well."
"Jones," I said, shaking my head, "what are you talking about?"
"Your vision, my boy. It is incredibly cloudy at the moment, but I am certain we can clear a pathway from your head to your heart and into your future."
I was frustrated, but curious. "I still don't understand."
Jones put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I know you don't. And I wouldn't expect you to understand." He leaned close to me. "Because you lack perspective."
He laughed at the expression on my face, but continued. "Young man, you see only the sand at your feet and what you are eating that you wish was something else. I don't tell you this as a rebuke; you are very ordinary in your views. Most people are just like you, disgusted with themselves for what they are and what they eat and what they drive. Most of us never stop to think that there are quite literally millions in this world who lack our blessings and opportunities, have no food to eat at all, and no hope of ever owning a car.
"The situation in which you find yourself is fraught with difficulty, yes. It is also piled high with benefits." Jones paused to ponder a thought, narrowed his eyes, then said, "Here, for you, young man, is a law of the universe—one of many, to be sure, but one that is especially applicable to your life at present. Remember, whatever you focus upon, increases."
I frowned, trying to grasp the meaning of his words. Fortunately, Jones didn't leave me guessing.
"When you focus on the things you need," he went on to explain, "you'll find those needs increasing. If you concentrate your thoughts on what you don't have, you will soon be concentrating on other things that you had forgotten you don't have—and feel worse! If you set your mind on loss, you are more likely to lose . . . But a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life."
Jones saw the doubt on my face. He put his cans aside and shifted his body to face me directly. "Consider this: when we are happy and enthusiastic," he said, "other people enjoy being around us. True?"
"I guess," I answered.
"No guesses," Jones chided. "When we are happy and enthusiastic, other people enjoy being around us. Yes or no?"
"And knowing that one's opportunities and encouragement come from people, what happens to a person everyone enjoys being around?"
I was beginning to catch on. "They get more opportunities and encouragement?" I ventured.
"That is correct," Jones affirmed. "And what happens to a life filled with opportunities and encouragement?" As I opened my mouth to speak, the old man answered for me. "A life filled with opportunities and encouragement finds more and more opportunities and encouragement, and success becomes inevitable."
Seeing the hope and new understanding in my expression, Jones held up a finger. "I must caution you, however," he said, "that the opposite of this principle is true as well. When a person is negative, complaining, and disagreeable, other people stay away. And that person receives less encouragement and fewer opportunities—because no one wants to be around him. And we know what happens to a life without opportunities and encouragement . . ."
"Things get worse and worse," I answered.