Harness the power of the mind 2017

Once Nelson Mandela was a uniting force and a trump card for ANC at elections but that is changing, says writer . PHOTO: Esa Alexander
Once Nelson Mandela was a uniting force and a trump card for ANC at elections but that is changing, says writer . PHOTO: Esa Alexander

For young South Africans who seek success, January is a month pregnant with expectations.

It is that time when the spirit is full of hope that the year ahead will be better than that which has ended.

Pinning one's hopes on a single year is a recipe for disappointment. Your problems will not vanish with the passing of a year.

It would be a big mistake to regard 2017 as a heaven that will pour torrents of manna onto your piece of parched earth.

The best thing to do would be to take this year as the starting point in a long marathon towards success.

But you will not achieve success if you do not know what to do to get there.

The first thing to do is to expel from your mind the defeatist attitude that condemns many a black youth to hopelessness.

That you were born in a rural village or township is not a divine curse. It is an accident of history from which you can rise.

Keep in mind that the poverty of your parents is not yours.

But remember also that a hopeful attitude unaccompanied by action is akin to the hot air blown by that extortionist lot called "motivational" speakers, the sweet-tongued robbers who make money by telling poor people that they will be rich out of nothing.

If you are currently studying, you are the surest to achieve success.

If you are not undergoing training, you can still get there through hustling and ceaseless attempts. But it would serve you well to take heed of the advice proffered below.

Some of the things might sound too simple to take you anywhere, but, over time, you may benefit handsomely from them.

The second thing to do is to understand success as happiness, a state of mind, not a reflection of things outside you. Rich men have taken their lives in the midst of boundless riches.

If the idea of being rich gives you a kick, pursue it as a matter of passion, not because wealth per se is a source of happiness.

A donkey carrying loads of money is still a donkey.

Not even rank can surpass a great mind. A president with an empty head is no different to a clown.

Respect the aged on grounds of their sheer humanity, but revere those among them who exude wisdom. Look upon a mindless old man as the perfect example of how not to waste your life.

Second to a healthy body, the most important thing in life is your mind.

Declare this the year that will mark the beginning of a self-driven development of your mind.

Cultivate a love of knowledge. Read voraciously, more than the prescriptions of your teacher. A book read out of personal curiosity leaves a mark more durable than that of an imposed text.

Avoid spending long hours in conversations with friends, but do not be anti-human.

It is uncomfortable but true that we black people are the most underdeveloped in the world - partly because we talk too much and spend almost no time with books. Our libraries are unvisited.

The mind benefits more from a book read in a quiet space than from gregarious mates. Those who make a noise or pant after fine clothes do so to camouflage the vacuity of their minds.

Accustom yourself to the solitude that accompanies the development of the mind. But take care not to become a hermit who regards society as a nuisance.

Always ask yourself how society can benefit from your knowledge. A life lived in perfect privacy is as good as nonexistent.

The unexpressed ideas of a clever man are as useless as the head that carries them.

Seek to create or do things that will outlast your life on earth. Nelson Mandela's body has been consumed by the earth, but his greatness lives within us.

The products of a refined mind are more elevated than those that sprang from dullness. The mind's reified products saturate the soul with contentment even before a man's death.

Study the lives of great people with a view to emulating their ways.

Be ambitious in your choice of aspirations. Some people will think you are mad, but time will expose their mistakenness.

If you are under the yoke of privation, consider it a crucible preparing you for a heroic ending. People who rose from poverty handle attainments better than fools who grew up floating in a pond of wealth.

To say a rich mind is nobler than material wealth is not to say poverty is glorious. To be poor and unhappy is a double jeopardy.

He who says "blessed are the poor" wants to keep you in servitude.

The poor have always served the rich, not the other way round.

Let 2017 be the year of the mind.