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Summary: Those who succeed, i.e. succeed in living life wisely, are those who have learned to listen well under all manner of instruction – pleasant instruction and that not so pleasing.

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When I became the principal of a small high school, I thought about the question of what links the different academic classes together? What common discipline is being taught in English, Science, History, and Mathematics? Besides covering very different fields of knowledge, they also require different ways of thinking. One cannot address the significance of a military battle, for example, as one tests the significance of a mathematical theorem. Testing a scientific hypothesis requires different mental processes than gauging the quality of a poem. But what they all do have in common is that to do well in any of them, one must develop the ability to listen and observe well. If one doesn’t hear what is being said, then he will fail whatever the subject may be. Conversely, if he does learn to listen and perceive, he will succeed.

The same holds true outside the classroom. Those who succeed, i.e. succeed in living life wisely, are those who have learned to listen well under all manner of instruction – pleasant instruction and that not so pleasing. We will hopefully practice good listening to what these proverbs have to teach us.


30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

How is your health? Young people don’t think about this too much, but it is a major topic item for us who are moving up in years. There are any number of body parts for us to worry about. The heart and the bones rank right up there at the top. They control much of our eating habits. We take pills and supplements to protect them or strengthen them. We exercise for them. This proverb gives two practices that make a significant difference for them.

The first is a cheerful look. The Hebrew says “the light of the eyes gladden the heart.” We speak of the “gleam in the eyes.” It is the look that expresses happiness, approval, love, fun. It is the look of approval that the young student hopes for in the teacher as she looks over his essay, or that the child hopes for in his parents’ eyes as they read the card he made.

It is loving look a couple in love or long married couple give to one another both alone and in a crowded room that assures each other of secure love. It is the mischievous gleam in a friend’s eye who shares a secret with you, her special friend. It is that brightening of the eyes of your friend or loved one, because you just came into sight. Or perhaps it is the look of forgiveness and reconciliation after a period of tension. How wonderful it is to see the light in people’s eyes whether they are for you or you just happen to be around. Cheerful looks – bright eyes – have good effects on the heart.

For the bones, good news are very helpful. The Hebrew phrase is “makes bones fat.” We may not want to be fat, but we do want strong, healthy bones, which is what the phrase means. What is the “good news”? Like the look, it can be many things. Perhaps it is the long-awaited letter from a loved one; perhaps the good news of being accepted to college, or getting the job offer, or having one’s proposal for an idea accepted. It may be the good news that the cancer is gone or that one’s favorite team won the championship. Whatever it is, good news has a powerful way of removing stress and making us feel better.

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