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Following is a speech I gave in Orlando, Florida in 1970.
The day before I was to give the speech I received the May 1970 issue of SCIENCE OF MIND magazine, and there was the speech (a friend had suggested I send it to this particular magazine).
As my readers know, I'm a firm believer that principles are indeed carved in stone (please see my devotion, "Principles Carved in Stone"), and that time only reinforces truth.
Maturity is a montage of traits reassembled into a maturity that enables us to live a productive and profitable life.
=== We hear much about our IQ, but I wonder if our MQ (Maturity Quotient) isn't equally important.
Indeed, it is perhaps more so.
A person's IQ needn't be high to survive the emotional blows of life, but a fair score on the MQ scale is necessary to cope adequately with life without being demolished.
I hesitate to say unscathed, for it is the indifferent and the calloused who come through unscathed.
These are the people who also lose out because they neither give to life, nor do they get out of life, what really matters.
They become nonentities who wind up as leeches on the emotions - and often the finances - of others.
Those who are touched are often wounded.
It isn't the wound itself, nor who does the wounding, but how one learns and how one recovers.
One's maturity quotient covers all the tests of life.
Its aspects are several: emotional, mental, social and spiritual.
Emotional Maturity The first signpost is stability.
There is a difference between stability and maturity.
Stability is firmness of character, marked by steadfastness of purpose and the ability to handle stress.
Maturity is fullness of character; a ripening and completeness.
Obviously the stable person has the better chance of arriving at maturity than the unbalanced and fearful person.
The emotional barometer should read moderation.
This gives stability and reliability, other traits considered, of course.
The emotionally mature person is one whom Norman Vincent Peale calls a tough-minded optimist.
Tough is defined in Webster's Dictionary as "having the quality of being strong or firm in texture, but flexible and not brittle; yielding to force without breaking.
" Flexibility is adaptability; a bending, not a snapping.
The emotionally mature person has tolerance for mistakes, his own as well as another's mistakes.
To be blind to one day's opportunities does not forever hold him back.
Self-recrimination and doubts never accomplishes a thing.
The emotionally mature person is secure enough, too, that he doesn't have to feel above or even equal to others.
He accepts the fact that equality is in each man's desire to be and to do.
He realizes that he must cultivate the "I will" instead of the "I can't" attitude, and he often reappraises his motives and strengths.
This person has positive feelings of affection, tenderness, joy and pride.
If negative feelings of hostility, hate, guilt and fear take over, he is balanced enough to realize that these are temporary; that he must face them with constructive thought and action.
If he finds that he can't overcome these feelings by himself, then he seeks wise counsel of relatives, friends, or professional people, rather than take comfort in the bottle or the barbiturate.
The emotionally mature person doesn't trip over the molehills of barbs, indifferences, interferences, and petty jealousies of others.
He seeks a wider understanding of life, a fuller view of man's character and potentialities.
He is able to sacrifice his desires in exchange for the right fulfillment of himself and of others.
Neither does he feel envy at another's success, nor doubt about his own abilities.
He can also see victory in defeat - he believes in an Easter Sunday after a Good Friday.
The mature person knows that "the stresses of life distort people to inferior caricatures of what they might have been," to quote Harry Stack Sullivan.
So he tries through common sense to minimize these stresses, or learn to cope with them through a better understanding of the situation and the people who make up that situation.
He analyzes the action rather than the person.
Mental Maturity In his mental approach to life, the mature person has the power to solve his problems.
He has the mental stamina to accept life's challenges and adventures; to stand by his own ideas and to accomplish his goals.
He has the courage to forge his potentialities into actualities.
He knows that when his life has gone full cycle, in all probability he will look back with regret upon some of the things he did, but not upon the things that he tried and failed, for he had the fortitude to tackle what lesser men wouldn't dare attempt.
The mature person dreams creatively, and he makes his dreams realistic through determined efforts.
He recognizes and takes advantage of opportunities, knowing that God's help is sustaining him.
He also has perspective - he realizes what is important enough to keep and what must be discarded if he is to accomplish worthwhile goals.
From each encounter with people and events, his horizons broaden.
The mentally mature individual also has insight.
He has the ability to imagine the best for himself and others; to sense his possession of physical and mental health; to "see" the whole of his future and then plan its parts so that each day's work leads to that whole.
He appreciates patience and perseverance, and knows that he can't allow himself to indulge in mental laziness.
He feels a sense of obligation to give back to life the gifts of his mental and physical vigor in the form of creative endeavor.
Just what constitutes success? Is it prestige symbols? Is it only monetary reward? Or is it mainly creative accomplishment? If the mature person wants to be truly happy as well as successful, he will choose the creative accomplishment that will utilize his best talents and aspirations, and that will bring satisfaction to others, also.
Of course financial reward and prestige need not be isolated from real success.
The mentally mature person is perceptive of the order of importance.
Social Maturity As for social maturity, a person's environment does much to mold his attitudes toward himself and others.
Where there has been severe negativity, much effort is needed to gain a more constructive view of life.
However, if a person has been fortunate enough to have had associations that were emotionally, physically and intellectually satisfying in his formative years, then his attitudes will be mature in his later years.
A person is fortunate indeed to have the proper support in his budding years and, in turn, he will be able to give support to others during his and their lifetimes.
He will be able to yield personal power and prestige to a larger and nobler cause than himself.
Joshua Liebman says of this man: "Salute the adult who through sympathy and imagination makes himself part of the culture and the dreams of the ages, a companion of life both in triumph and in failure.
" What a beautiful sentiment! The world is full of those who need what the socially mature person can give, whether it is a helping hand, a sympathetic ear, or a product of his intellect or dexterity.
The mature person learns to weigh the results of his generosity, and he permits others the benefit of being generous also.
As for love of another, he knows that it often involves heartache.
Yet he understands that the worst form of selfishness is not to love for fear of not being loved in return.
The mature person is willing to take his chances, and is often surprised at the results of his tolerance and kindness.
Love to him is sensitive and reverent.
Should he lose someone's love through a thoughtless act, indifference to a need, an unkind or unnecessary remark, the mature person will begin a remedy, remembering how Edna St.
Vincent Millay penned it: Tis not love's going hurts my days But that it went in little ways.
As a citizen, this person obeys reasonable laws for the common good.
If he feels that a law is unreasonable, he seeks correction within the framework of existing laws.
He cherishes freedom, and he knows that democracy needs mature men and women.
Dictatorial systems evolve only when people are no longer willing to depend upon themselves and their inner resources of strength and faith.
The mature person will do all in his power to prevent this from happening through his interest in local, national and international affairs.
Spiritual Maturity In a sense, spiritual maturity is not apart from emotional maturity, mental maturity, and social maturity.
The mature person is aware of his spiritual nature, and he expresses it through faith, hope and love.
Without faith he will be plagued by doubts, skepticism and cynicism.
Without hope in God's guidance, he will be caught in a private hell of despair.
Without love, he will misunderstand his own potential, and he will feel he has little reason to live.
Spiritually, the mature person has learned to transfer childish dependency upon material supports to reliance upon God.
This gives him courage to face the many challenges in his life.
Even in the most difficult trials he seeks the creative values in them, and he keeps in mind that the light of dawn follows the darkest night.
The mature person knows that there will be times when he must literally "let go and let God," when he must abide by God's good time rather than his own.
He also realizes the futility of worry, and his faith helps him to alleviate his anxieties over past, present and future conditions.
The mature person is not defeated by adversity though he may be temporarily halted.
He takes time to question his pattern of living.
Has he let it become too object-oriented rather than ideal-oriented? He is willing to find the trouble and to remedy the situation through understanding and common sense.
The spiritually mature person has a deep love and respect for others.
He identifies with their dreams and joys and sorrows, and he wishes the same fullness of life for them that he desires for himself.
He also helps to heal the nihilism that would bring the world to its level of misery, hate and distortion.
Nor does he bow to a culture that would mass produce ugliness that purveys monstrous pieces of junk as art, or hideous sounds as music.
Rather, he seeks the intelligent weighing of values and philosophies so that beauty and real creativeness keep alive the dreams of young and old alike.
Full maturity may be impossible to achieve, but here again only the maturing person understands and appreciates this.
Maturity connotes completeness and completeness connotes perfection -- and who among us is perfect? Yet, each day gives us all its unique opportunities to grow in character and personality.
Our maturity must be great enough to come through its challenges, its frustrations and its temptations undemolished! Published in Science of Mind, 1970 Speech given in Orlando, Florida
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