Choir Notes

Thinking We Can
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4264

Recent research suggests that persistence and resilience are good predictors of longevity.1 Perseverance in the face of difficulties puts us on the road to happiness and well-being, and what keeps us on that road is a positive attitude.

A young man learned this important lesson as a high school tennis player. He had worked hard during the off-season: his goals were clear and his resolve fixed. But his hard work did not produce the results he had hoped for. Instead of victories, the season was filled with setbacks and challenges. His first reaction was anger, but then in time and with good counsel, he realized that tennis did not define who he was or determine his future. He began to shift his perspective, change his attitude, adjust his goals, and look on the bright side.

Over a hundred years ago, a little-known poet, Walter D. Wintle, wrote a poem called "The Man Who Thinks He Can.” In a timeless way, it captures the simple but powerful effect of resilience, persistence, and positive thinking.

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But [sooner] or [later] the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.2

1 See Laura Landro, "How to Keep Going and Going,” Wall Street Journal, Mar. 9, 2011, online.wsj.com.
2 In Hazel Felleman, ed., Poems That Live Forever (1965), 310.

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