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Orison Swett Marden.

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of the good."

" I, myself, am good fortune," says Walt
Whitman.

If we could only realize that the very atti-
tude of assuming that we are the real embodi-
ment of the thing we long to be or to attain,
that we possess the good things we long for,
not that we possess all the qualities of good,
but that we are these qualities — with the con-
stant affirming, " I myself am good luck, good
fortune ; I am myself a part of the great crea-
tive, sustaining principle of the universe, be-
cause my real, divine self and my Father are
one " — what a revolution would come to
earth's toilers !



XII. DESTRUCTIVE AND
CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION



XII. DESTRUCTIVE AND
CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION




RIMINALS are mental crimi-
nals first. The deed itself is
merely the physical acting
out of the crime which they
have rehearsed so many times
in their imagination.

An ex-convict who served
twenty-five years in the different penitentiaries
of New York State said that he did not have
the slightest conscious thought of ever becom-
ing a criminal. But he had a natural love for
doing things which seemed impossible to
others, and when he went by a rich man's resi-
dence he could not help thinking out different
ways of entering the house in the night, until
he finally attempted it. He took great pride in
going from room to room while everybody
was asleep and getting out without waking
any one. Every time he did this he felt a sense
of triumph, as though he had done something
worthy of praise. He said he did not rob so
much for the value of the things he stole as
to gratify his passion for taking risks, and he
could hardly believe it when he found that he
was actually doing the things he had contem-

207



2o8 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

plated until they became a part of his nature.
When he was arrested the first time, it did not
seem possible to him that he could be a
criminal.

This shows what a dangerous thing it is to
hold in the mind a wrong suggestion, for it
tends to become a part of us, and, before we
realize it, we are like our thought.

Professional burglars tell us that for years
before they fell they committed all sorts of
thefts in their imagination. They would think
out ingenious ways of entering houses and
accomplishing their ends without detection.

They dwelt upon the thought of crime so
long that, before they were aware of it, they
had actually committed the deed. The criminal
suggestion was held in mind until it became
incorporated in their life structure, and they
were amazed to find themselves criminals.
Many of them had no thought of ever commit-
ting actual crime when they first began to
think about it, but the criminal thought, the
criminal suggestion, did its work.

Who can picture the havoc which the sus-
picious suggestion has wrought in innocent
lives? Think of the influence of employers
holding the thought of suspicion regarding
their servants or other employees.



DESTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION 209

Servants have actually been made dishonest
by other persons perpetually holding the sus-
picion that they were dishonest. This thought
suggests dishonesty to the suspected perhaps
for the first time, and being constantly held
takes root and grows, and bears the fruit of
theft. The old proverb, " If you have the
name, you might as well have the game," is
put into action many times. It is simply cruel •
to hold a suspicious thought of another until
you have positive proof. That other person's
mind is sacred ; you have no right to invade
it with your miserable thoughts and pictures
of suspicion. You should not indulge in such
thoughts of yourself, any more than you would
allow yourself to hold thoughts of blacker
sin or crime. Many a being has been made
wretched and miserable for years ; has been
depressed and borne down by the uncharitable,
wicked thoughts of others.

Many people scatter fear thoughts, doubt
thoughts, failure thoughts wherever they go;
and these take root in minds that might other-
wise be free from them and therefore happy,
confident, and successful.

Who can ever estimate the human tragedy,
the suffering, the failures, caused by hypno-
tizing oneself by vicious thoughts, or becom-



2IO PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

ing- hypnotized throug-h the wrong thoughts
of others?

The time will come when we shall have more
sympathy for those who go wrong, and even
for criminals ; because we shall know how pow-
erfully human minds are influenced by the
vicious thoughts of others.

Many a youth who has been thrown into
prison for some minor offense has been
changed into a hardened criminal by constant
association with the criminal classes ; by being
cut off from all communication and association
with the good, and with no possibility of even
seeing good books. The perpetual criminal sug-
gestions about him were held in his mind so
long that he became morbid, surcharged with
criminal tendencies. If, instead of being locked
up, he could be put upon a huge farm in a
beautiful section of the country, with beautiful
surroundings of mountains, lakes, flowers,
trees and grass, and placed under kindly, edu-
cative influences, it would be possible to re-
form the criminal in a great majority of cases.
The substitution of prison surroundings, the
consciousness that he is cut off from the world
he loves — from friends, from healthy influ-
ences, from all possibility of carrying out his
ambitions — disheartens and discourages him,



DESTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION 211

and his mind soon coincides with the continual
suggestions around him.

We are creatures of suggestion. We get
them from newspapers, books, from every one
with whom we come in contact. The atmos-
phere is full of them. We are constantly giv-
ing them to ourselves. In other words, our
characters are largely made up from various
kinds of suggestion.

We all know how we are influenced by a
powerful play or a powerful book.

I know a lady who reads the most tragic and
emotional stories she can get hold of ; and she
says she is often so aflfected by a book that
she is obliged to go to bed for an entire day
at a time. So powerfully does the suggestion
in the book take possession of her, that, for the
time, she lives the life that is depicted there.
She feels that she is one of the characters she
is reading about.

It is not difficult to trace many a criminal's
acts to the graphic suggestions of criminal
novels, the exciting stories of murder and
plunder which he began to read when a child.

People with criminal tendencies love to read
stories of crime and hairbreadth escapes. They
are great detective-story readers. Some youths
unconsciously inflame their imagination thus



212 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

until they become abnormal. They develop a
morbid desire actually to do the criminal deed
which they have performed so many times
mentally.

Think of the awful responsibility of throw-
ing out in picture, in cartoon, in print, the daily
suggestion of scandal, of murder, of suicide,
of crime in all its forms, with all the insidious
suggestiveness which lives in detailed descrip-
tion !

Some time ago the mayor of one of our
western cities requested the editors of the daily
papers to refrain from publishing the details
of suicides, because he said their publication
had caused an alarming epidemic of suicides
in that community.

There is no doubt that many a criminal is
serving a sentence which ought to be served
by those who have influenced him to commit
the crime for which he is being punished.

Indelible and satanic is the taint of the evil
suggestion which a lewd, questionable picture
or story leaves in the mind. Nothing else more
fatally mars the ideals of life and lowers the
standard of manhood and womanhood.

The suggestion of impurity in trashy litera-
ture is responsible for a great deal of dissipa-
tion ; for blasted hopes and blighted lives. The



DESTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION 213

same is true of suggestiveness in art. Many-
impure artists have made their fortunes and
their reputations by treading upon forbidden
ground, by going just as near the point of
legal prohibition in their pictures as possible.

If young people only realized what a terrible
thing it is to get even a suggestion of impurity
into the mind, they would never read an author
whose lines drip with the very gall of death.
They would not look at those dangerous books
which lead their readers as near the edge of
indecency as possible without stepping over.
To describe impurity in rosy, glowing, seduc-
tive, suggestive language, is but the refinement
of the house of death.

We have all had the exalted experience, the
marvellous tonic, the uplift, that has come
from the suggestion in a play or a book de-
picting a great hero. How heroic and noble
and self-sacrificing we feel for a long time,
and how resolved we are to become like the
hero in the play or the story ! This is a good
illustration of the power suggestion is con-
stantly playing in our experience all through
life.

How important it is that from childhood we
should be in the atmosphere of uplifting, en-
couraging, cheerful, optimistic, loving ideals!



y



214 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

Teachers tell us that in the schools in the slums
of cities there are children who never smile,
who are always sad and gloomy because of the
terrible influence in their homes ; where there
is a constant suggestion of suffering, of filth,
of profanity and of impurity; where all the
ideals are low and debasing.

I have known bright, healthy, refined orphan
children to be completely transformed by being
placed in coarse families, where hard, brutal
suggestions were held constantly before their
minds until their dispositions and characters
were hardened, and all that was noblest and
best in their natures was petrified.

It is easy to account for a hard, cold, selfish
nature when we find that the child has held
these qualities as perpetual suggestions in the
mind from infancy. Sweetness and light and
beauty of character are not developed in an
atmosphere thick with hatred and envy and
poisoned with jealousy and selfishness. Like
produces like ; this is an inexorable law every-
where. Love is not generated in an atmosphere
of bitterness ; unselfishness and sympathy are
not fostered in an environment of greed and
heartlessness.

Dr. El wood Worcester, leader of the Em-
manuel movement in B.. ^ton is a firm believer



DESTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION 215

in the power of suggestion to mould the char-
acter of the child. He says : " There is a very
easy and rational way by which many child-
ish faults can be removed ; that is, by making
good suggestions to our children while they
are in a state of natural sleep.

" My method is to address the sleeping child
in a low and gentle tone, telling it that I am
about to speak to it, and that it will hear me,
but that my words will not disturb it nor will
it awake. Then I give the necessary words, re-
peating them in different language several
times. By this means I have removed childish
fears and corrected bad habits. I have checked
nervous twitchings, anger, violence, a disposi-
tion to lie, and I have improved speech in
stammering children."

We are so largely products of our environ-
ment ; we are so sensitive to the suggestion
dominant in our minds, that we can have a
powerful influence over our destiny by auto-
suggestion. We can often so dominate a
vicious thought in our environment by a coun-
teracting self-suggestion as to completely de-
stroy it. The powerful self-suggestion of
purity will quickly annihilate the opposite sug-
gestion from others. The self-suggestions of
justice and truth will quickly overmaster the



2i6 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

suggestions of injustice and falsehood from
those about us.

" As a therapeutic agency and an uplifting
ethical force," says Dr. Worcester, " auto-sug-
gestion can hardly be exaggerated. The vari-
ous troubles, physical and mental, which are
amenable to its influence make a long list. In
these and other troubles the patient can, as
Shakespeare says, ' minister to himself.' What
a gospel of hope is here for the depressed and
unhappy! What a chance of redemption for
those who are the slaves of circumstance or of
their own folly ! "

It is wholly a question of making the de-
mand, the call, upon our better self so em-
phatic, so vigorous, and so appealing that it
will arouse our higher nature. Then there will
be a leaping forth of an overpowering energy
of the Godlike in us.

When we see a man who has been but a
mere apology for a human being, a curse to
the race for half a lifetime, converted, trans-
formed, by the love of some noble woman or
friend, become a great power for good, we are
apt to think that this transformation, this mira-
cle is due to some force, some power outside of
himself. But the power was within him all the
time, waiting to be aroused, to be awakened.



DESTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION 217

When the right suggestion comes, and is made
emphatic, vigorous enough, the divine within
us will respond.

People who are " down on their luck " are,
as a rule, the victims of their own negative
suggestion. If they could only substitute the
positive, the creative, for the negative, the de-
structive suggestion which enslaves them, they
would win instead of losing.

Darwin has shown that every mental state
has a corresponding physical expression, and
that if you assume one you are likely to
experience the other. Anger, for instance,
expresses itself physically in violent language,
clenching the fists, slamming the door, or in
other forms. And as a man may make himself
angry by doing these things, so he can put
himself into a devotional frame of mind by
assuming an attitude of prayer.

Some people are so happily constituted that
they are constantly rejuvenating and refresh-
ening and elevating themselves by the habitual
appeal to their minds through suggestion. They
keep so close to the divine power that they feel
its thrill and are propelled by the great divine
current.

How often we are surprised at the discov-
ery of some unexpected power or possibility



2i8 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

within ourselves, which has been brought to
the surface by the suggestion of some book,
or by some friend who believed in us, or saw
in us what we could not see ourselves !

The human mind may be attuned to any
key, high or low, base or noble, by the power
of suggestion. The suggestion may be in a
word spoken by oneself or by another ; it may
come from a book or a picture ; it may ema-
nate from the presence of a friend or of an
enemy, from a grand, heroic character, or a
mean, cowardly one. From hundreds of sources
it may come, from within or without, but
wherever it comes from, it leaves its mark on
the life for good or ill.

Suggestion in its highest form is the appeal
to our higher self to come into recognition of
its own. No matter how bad a man may seem
to be, there is a better man within him. No
matter how low he may have sunk morally,
to all outward appearance, there is something
absolutely spotless within him, something
which has never been smirched and can never
be, and which will ultimately claim its birth-
right and come to its own in splendor and
power.

No matter how soiled a banknote becomes
it is always redeemable so long as there is any



DESTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION 219

distinguishable mark of its genuineness. There
is something within every human being which
will ultimately redeem him, no matter how far
he may have drifted from the right. There is
a better self in the worst criminal in our peni-
tentiaries which will some day, somewhere, re-
deem him, bring him to his own. The God
within him will finally triumph. Every human
being some time, somewhere, will come into
harmony with the divine. Every child of the
King will ultimately inherit his kingdom.



XIII. WORRY, THE DISEASE OF
THE AGE



XIII. WORRY, THE DISEASE OF
THE AGE



Some people bear three kinds of trouble — all they
ever had, all they have now, and all they expect to
have. — Edward Everett Hale.




NE who could rid the world
of worry would render
greater service to the race
than all of the inventors and
discoverers that ever lived.

We Americans pity igno-
rant savages who live in terror
of their cruel gods, their demons which keep
them in abject slavery, but we ourselves are
the slaves of a demon which blasts our hopes,
blights our happiness, casts its hideous shadow
across all our pleasures, destroys our sleep,
mars our health, and keeps us in misery most
of our lives.

This monster dogs us from the cradle to the
grave. There is no occasion so sacred but it is
there. Unbidden it comes to the wedding and
the funeral alike. It is at every reception,
every banquet ; it occupies a seat at every tabic.
No human intellect can estimate the unutter-
able havoc and ruin wrought by worry. It has
forced genius to do the work of mediocrity;

223



224 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

it has caused more failures, more broken
hearts, more blasted hopes, than any other one
cause since the dawn of the world.

What have not men done under the pressure
of worry ! They have plunged into all sorts
of vice; have become drunkards, drug fiends;
have sold their very souls in their efforts to
escape this monster.

Think of the homes which it has broken up ;
the ambitions it has ruined ; the hopes and
prospects it has blighted ! Think of the suicide
victims of this demon ! If there is any devil in
existence, is it not worry, with all its attendant
progeny of evils?

Yet, in spite of all the tragic evils that fol-
low in its wake, a visitor from another world
would get the impression that worry is one of
our dearest, most helpful friends, so closely do
we hug it to ourselves and so loath are we to
part from it.

Is it not unaccountable that people who
know perfectly well that success and happiness
both depend on keeping themselves in condi-
tion to get the most possible out of their ener-
gies should harbor in their minds the enemy
of this very success and happiness? Is it not
strange that they should form this habit of
anticipating evils that will probably never



WORRY, DISEASE OF THE AGE 225

come, when they know that anxiety and fret-
ting will not only rob them of peace of mind
and strength and ability to do their work, but
also of precious years of life ?

Many a strong man is tied down, like Gulli-
ver, by Lilliputians — ^bound hand and foot by
the little worries and vexations he has never
learned to conquer.

What would be thought of a business man ^ v p/^
who would keep in his service employees
known to have been robbing him for years,
stealing a little here and a little there every
day? Yet one may be keeping in his mental
business house, at the very source of his
power, a thief infinitely worse than one who
merely steals money or material things ; a
thief who robs him of energy, saps his vitality,
and bankrupts him of all that makes life worth
while.

Do we pity the pagans who lacerate them-
selves in all sorts of cruel ways in their wor-
ship? Yet many of us constantly torment our-
selves by all sorts of mental instruments of
torture.

We borrow trouble ; endure all our lives the
woe of crossing and recrossing bridges weeks
and years before we come to them; do dis-
agreeable tasks mentally over and over again



226 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

before we reach them ; anticipate our drudgery
and constantly suffer from the apprehension of
terrible things that never happen.

I know women who never open a telegram
without trembling, for they feel sure it will
announce the death of a friend or some ter-
rible disaster. If their children have gone for
a sail or a picnic, they are never easy a mo-
ment during their absence ; they work them-
selves into a fever of anxiety for fear that
some accident will befall them, that something
awful will happen to them.

Many a mother fritters away more energy
in useless frets and fears for her children, in
nervous strain over this or that, than she uses
for her daily routine of domestic work. She
wonders why she is so exhausted at the close
of the day, and never dreams that she has
thrown away the greater part of her force.

Is it not strange that people will persist in
allowing little worries, petty vexations, and
unnecessary frictions to grind life away at
such a fearful rate that old age stares them
in the face in middle life? Look at the women
who are shrivelled and shrunken and aged at
thirty, not because of tht hard work they have
done, or the real troubles they have had, but
because of habitual fretting, which has helped



WORRY, DISEASE OF THE AGE 227

nobody, but has brought discord and unhap-
piness to their homes.

Somewhere I read of a worn.-ing' woman
who made a Hst of possible unfortunate events
and happenings which she felt sure would
come to pass and be disastrous to her happi-
ness and welfare. The list was lost, and to her
amazement, when she recovered it, a long time
afterwards, she found that not a single unfor-
tunate prediction in the whole catalogue of
disasters had taken place.

Is not this a good suggestion for worriers?
Write down everything which you think is
going to turn out badly, and then put the list
aside. You will be surprised to see what a small
percentage of the doleful things ever come to
pass.

It is a pitiable thing to see vigorous men and
women, who have inherited godlike qualities
and bear the impress of divinity, wearing anx-
ious faces and filled with all sorts of fear and
uncertainty, worrying about yesterday, to-day,
to-morrow — ever}'thing imaginable.

In entering New York by train every morn-
ing, I notice business men with hard, tense
expressions on their faces, leaning forward
when the train approaches the station, as if
they could hasten its progress and save time,



228 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

many of them getting up from their seats and
rushing toward the door several minutes be-
fore the train stops. The anxiety in their every
movement ; the hurried nervousness in their
manner ; and their hard, drawn countenances
— all are indications of an abnormal life.

No man can utilize his normal power who
dissipates his nervous energy in useless anxiety.
Nothing will sap one's vitality and blight one's
ambition or detract from one's real power in
the world more than the worrying habit.

Work kills no one, but worr>^ has killed
multitudes. It is not the doing things which
injures us so much as the dreading to do them
— not only performing them mentally over and
over again, but anticipating something dis-
agreeable in their performance.

Many of us approach an unpleasant task In
much the same condition as a runner who
begins his start such a long distance away
that by the time he reaches his objective point
— the ditch or the stream which is to test his
agility — he is too exhausted to jump across.

Worry not only saps vitality and wastes
energy-, but it also seriously affects the quality
of one's work. It cuts down ability. A man
cannot get the highest quality of efficiency into
his work when his mind is troubled. The men-



WORRY, DISEASE OF THE AGE 229

tal faculties must have perfect freedom before
they will give out their best. A troubled brain
cannot think clearly, vigorously, and logically.
The attention cannot be concentrated with any-
thing like the same force when the brain cells
are poisoned with anxiety as when they are
fed by pure blood and are clean and unclouded.
The blood of chronic worriers is vitiated with
poisonous chemical substances and broken-
down tissues, according to Prof. Elmer Gates
and other noted scientists, who have shown
that the passions and the harmful emotions
cause actual chemical changes in the secre-
tions and generate poisonous substances in the
body which are fatal to healthy growth and
action.

The brain cells are constantly bathed in the
blood, from which they draw their nourish-
ment, and when the blood is loaded with the
poison of fear, worry, anger, hatred, or jeal-
ousy, the protoplasm of those delicate cells be-
comes hard and is thus materially injured.

The most pathetic effect of worry is its im-
pairment of the thinking powers. It so clogs
the brain and paralyzes thought that the re-
sults of the worrier's work merely mock his
ambition, and often lead to the drink or drug
habit. Its continued friction robs the brain



230 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

cells of an opportunity to renew themselves ;
and so after awhile there is a breakdown of


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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPeace, power, and plenty → online text (page 10 of 14)