Compensation Is An Essay By Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Law of Compensation

You Get What You Give

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay, "Compensation," wrote that each person is compensated in like manner for that which he or she has contributed. The Law of Compensation is another restatement of the Law of Sowing and Reaping. It says that you will always be compensated for your efforts and for your contribution, whatever it is, however much or however little.

Increase Your Value
This Law of Compensation also says that you can never be compensated in the long term for more than you put in. The income you earn today is your compensation for what you have done in the past. If you want to increase your compensation, you must increase the value of your contribution.

Fill Your Mind With Success
Your mental attitude, your feelings of happiness and satisfaction, are also the result of the things that you have put into your own mind. If you fill your own mind with thoughts, visions and ideas of success, happiness and optimism, you will be compensated by those positive experiences in your daily activities.

Do More Than You’re Paid For
Another corollary of the Law of Sowing and Reaping is what is sometimes called the, "Law of Overcompensation." This law says that great success comes from those who always make it a habit to put in more than they take out. They do more than they are paid for. They are always looking for opportunities to exceed expectations. And because they are always overcompensating, they are always being over rewarded with the esteem of their employers and customers and with the financial rewards that go along with their personal success.

Provide the Causes, Enjoy The Effects
One of your main responsibilities in life is to align yourself and your activities with Law of Cause and Effect (and its corollaries), accepting that it is an inexorable law that always works, whether anyone is looking or not. Your job is to institute the causes that are consistent with the effects that you want to enjoy in your life. When you do, you will realize and enjoy the rewards you desire.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, remind yourself regularly that your rewards will always be in direct proportion to your service to others. How could you increase the value of your services to your customers today?

Second, look for ways to go the extra mile, to use the Law of Overcompensation in everything you do. This is the great secret of success.

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See Also

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If you’ve read earlier parts of this blog, you’d have seen that blogpost on Napoleon Hill’s book– Think and Grow Rich. I like Napoleon Hill because his principles prove true now, as they were back when the book was first published in 1937. (Also his chapter on Sexual Transmutation explains a lot of things. mwahahaaha! 😉 )

I was re-reading one of Mr. Hill’s books last holyweek and it mentioned Ralph Waldo Emerson– a lot—specifically Mr. Emerson’s essay on compensation.

I read the essay, and it’s an essay on how Mr. Emerson believes one can live their life. After I read it, it supplemented everything that I ever thought I learned from Mr. Hill, Mr. Andrew Matthews, or Ms. Bryne.

Sidenote: I do practice the law of attraction, and besides some crappy things notwithstanding (which I have to remind myself a lot are not really crappy things at all but payment for some happy things that have happened, and will happen in the future)– I think my life’s pretty blessed because of it. 🙂

Back to the essay.

The essay is about 30 pages (BIG FONT) and downloadable in any of the usual sites (will post one at the end of this post). The law of compensation’s really just karma, but without the you-turning-into-a-grasshopper-in-your-next-life bit. It’s not even very religious, although he does talk about religion, there’s a priest’s sermon at the start of it, and some discussion on going to hell in it. 🙂

So I’m just going to put some of the quotes I love from his essay here, and I hope that at least one person who reads the quotes will think of reading the essay and benefits from it. 🙂


“Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Res nolunt diu male administrari.”

“Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears.”

“Every act rewards itself, or in other words integrates itself, in a twofold manner: first in the thing, or in real nature; and secondly in the circumstance, or in apparent nature. Men call the circumstance the retribution. “

“Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all revolutions. One thing he always teaches, that there is rottenness where he appears.”

“Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass.”

“Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.”

“Our strength grows out of our weakness. Not until we are pricked and stung and sorely shot at, awakens the indignation which arms itself with secret forces. A great man is always willing to be little.”

“There can be no excess to love, none to knowledge, none to beauty, when these attributes are considered in the purest sense. The soul refuses all limits. It affirms in man always an Optimism, never a Pessimism.”

” The death of a dear friend, wife, brother, lover, which seemed nothing but privation, somewhat later assumes the aspect of a guide or genius; for it commonly operates revolutions in our way of life, terminates an epoch of infancy or of youth which was waiting to be closed, breaks up a wonted occupation, or a household, or style of living, and allows the formation of new ones more friendly to the growth of character. It permits or constrains the formation of new acquaintances and the reception of new influences that prove of the first importance to the next years; and the man or woman who would have remained a sunny garden-flower, with no room for its roots and too much sunshine for its head, by the falling of the walls and the neglect of the gardener is made the banian of the forest, yielding shade and fruit to wide neighborhoods of men.”


Not the most easiest of reads (especially compared to Mr. Matthews or The Secret), but I liked it all the same. I would recommend that you take a few minutes and read it. 🙂

Note: There’s a part about being lucky in the essay— saying that one should be afraid when one gets lucky. There was a time that I was afraid of being lucky, and believed that being lucky meant that I would have to pay for it, and pay for it dearly. I was very afraid.

One day, I just stopped being afraid and just knew that I was lucky, and that it didn’t mean a bad thing. I believe that I pay for being lucky with temperance, attempting to do/doing the right thing, and faith. All three being really difficult things to do most of the time, and I fail–a lot. But as I quote Emerson, “Every man in his lifetime needs to thank his faults.”

And actually, I practiced those recently too, and I’m happier because of it. Of course said happiness came after “the doing”,” the doing” was such a hard business when everything in me was telling me to chop heads off, but doing the right thing will always pay off.

And that’s what you call—faith. 🙂

link on the essay on compensation, and his other essays here

** photo from Wikipedia

On another note: lighter things up ahead! 🙂 I actually wrote this a few weeks ago, but never felt like posting it until now. 🙂

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Posted in Books, Life Musings, Stuff | Tagged andrew matthews, compensation, essay on compensation, essays, grow rich with peace of mind, law of attraction, life, napoleon hill, quotes, ralph waldo emerson, rhonda byrne, the secret, think and grow rich

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