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Orison Swett Marden.

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the nervous system and then the worrier suf-
fers from insomnia and other nervous ail-
ments, and sometimes becomes hopelessly
insane.

If you never accomplish anything else in
life, get rid of worry. There are no greater
enemies of harmony than little anxieties and
petty cares. Do not flies aggravate a nervous
horse more than his work? Do not little nag-
gings, constantly touching him with the whip,
or jerking at the reins, fret and worry him
much more than the labor of drawing the
carriage ?

It is the little pin-pricks, the petty annoy-
ances of our every-day life, that mar our com-
fort and happiness and rob us of more strength
than the great troubles which we nerve our-
selves to meet. It is the perpetual scolding and
fault-finding of an irritable man or woman
which ruins the entire peace and happiness of
many a home.

An habitual worrier — an aged woman —
said to her physician, " My head feels dull-
like, and I've kinder lost the power to worry
over things." A great many people would be
much troubled were they to lose the power to



WORRY, DISEASE OF THE AGE 231

worry over things. They think it their duty
to worry. They would not feel that they were
conscientious or faithful if they were not
always anxious over what they were doing.
They would not think they were showing a
proper interest in it.

Anticipating a thing tends to bring it to us.
Worry about disease is a disease producer. It
is well known that many victims of the great
plagues of history have been slain simply by
fear and dread.

Professor Gates says that by directing his
thought to one of his thumbs, and holding it
there, in ten minutes' time the thumb was
gorged with blood, and the temperature was
two degrees higher than in the other thumb.
This is what happens when the worry thought
— the terror thought — of some disease is con-
tinually focused on a part of the body which
we think has been affected by heredity.

Great numbers of men and women become
hypochondriacs by dwelling for a long time on
diseases they fear. If they happen to feel a
little stupid or absent-minded, if their minds
do not always work just right, as is often the
case with even the most healthy brains, they
immediately surmise that there is something
wrong with their heads.



232 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

There is no doubt that the " quick lunch "
habit, the habit of bolting the food without
proper mastication, is a fruitful source of in-
digestion, and this has a great deal to do with
the worry habit of the American people.

The digestive organs are extremely sensitive
to worry, and when the digestion is interfered
with the whole physical economy is thrown
into disorder.

Worry and fear will not only whiten the
hair, but will also cause premature baldness —
a condition known as nervous baldness. An-
other result is a loss of tone and elasticity in
the facial muscles. " The lips, cheeks, and lower
jaw," says Darwin, " all sink downward from
their own weight."

Worry not only makes a woman look older,
but also actually makes her older. It is a chisel
which cuts cruel furrows in the face. I have
seen one so completely changed by a few
weeks of anxiety that the whole countenance
had a different expression and the individual
seemed almost like another person.

One of the worst forms of worry is the
brooding over failure. It blights the ambition,
deadens the purpose and defeats the very
object the worrier has in view.

Some people have the unfortunate habit of



WORRY, DISEASE OF THE AGE 233

brooding over their past lives, castigating
themselves for their shortcomings and mis-
takes, until their whole vision is turned back-
ward instead of forward, and they see every-
thing in a distorted light, because they are
looking only on the shadow side.

The longer the unfortunate picture which
has caused trouble remains in the mind, the
more thoroughly it becomes imbedded there,
and the more difficult it is to remove it.

Did you ever hear of any good coming to
any human being from zvorryf Did it ever help
anybody to better his condition? Does it not
always — everywhere — do just the opposite by
impairing the health, exhausting the vitality,
lessening efficiency ?

Are we not convinced that a power beyond
our control runs the universe, that every mo-
ment of worry detracts from our success capi-
tal and makes our failure more probable ; that
every bit of anxiety and fretfulness leaves its
mark on the body, interrupts the harmony of
our physical and mental well-being, and
cripples efficiency, and that this condition is
at war with our highest endeavor ?

Let us then cease to worry. Let us stop the
habit— if we have it— of telling everybody
about our troubles. What we want to do, in



234 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

order to drive out troubles, is to forget them
— bury them — not keep them ahve by airing
them continuaUy.

A great deal can be done to correct the
causes of worry by keeping up the health stand-
ard. A good digestion, a clear conscience, and
sound sleep kill a lot of trouble. Worry thrives
best under abnormal conditions. It cannot get
much of a hold on a man with a superb phy-
sique — a man who lives a clean, sane life. It
thrives on the weak — those of low vitality
whose reserve force has been exhausted.

We see women resorting to massage, elec-
tricity, exercises, chin straps, wrinkle plasters,
and all sorts of things to erase the terrible
ravages of worry and anxiety ; apparently
ignorant of the fact that the supreme remedy
— the great panacea — is in the mind, they con-
tinue to worry as to how they shall get rid of
the effects of worry !

J Nothing else w^ill so quickly drive away
'worry as the habit of cheerfulness, of making
the best of things, of refusing to see the ugly
side of life.

When you feel fear or anxiety entering your
thought, just fill your mind instantly with
courage, hope, and confidence. Refuse to let
any enemies of your happiness and success



WORRY, DISEASE OF THE AGE 235

camp in your mind. Drive out the whole brood
of vampires.

You can kill worry thoughts easily when
you know the antidote ; and this you always
have in your mind. You do not have to go to
a drug store or a physician for it. It is always
with you — always ready. All you have to do
is to substitute hope, courage, cheerfulness,
serenity, for despondency, discouragement,
pessimism, worry. Opposite thoughts zvill not
live together. The presence of one excludes
Jhe other.

" People ask me daily," said Patti, " when
they look at my face, without a wrinkle, what
I do to keep so young. I tell them that when-
ever I have felt a wrinkle coming I have
laughed it away. My advice to the woman who
wants to remain young is : 'Be happy — don't
worry, but walk.' "



XIV. FEAR, THE CURSE OF THE
RACE



XIV. FEAR, THE CURSE OF THE
RACE

Fear makes man a slave to others. This is the tyrant's
chain. Anxiety is a form of cowardice embittering
life. — Channing.

Fear is an acid which is pumped into one's atmosphere.
It causes mental, moral, and spiritual asphyxiation,
and sometimes death; death to energy and all growth.
— Horace Fletcher.




HAT is fear? It is absolutely
nothing. It is a mental illu-
sion. There is no reality be-
hind it. It is to the sane adult
what the ghost is to the child.
There is not a single re-
deeming feature about fear
or any of its numerous progeny. It is always,
everywhere, an unmitigated curse. Although
there is no reality in fear, no truth behind it,
yet everywhere we see people who are slaves
to this monster of the imagination.

Fear is one of the most deadly instruments
for marring human lives. It has a paralyzing,
blighting influence upon the whole being. It
impoverishes the blood and destroys health by
im]jairing the digestion, cutting off nutrition,
and lowering the physical and mental vitality.

239



240 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

It crushes hope, kills courage, and so enfeebles
the mind's action that it cannot create or
produce.

All work done when one is suffering from a
sense of fear or foreboding has little efficiency.
Fear strangles originality, daring, boldness ; it
kills individuality, and weakens all the mental
processes. Great things are never done under
a sense of fear of some impending danger.
Fear always indicates weakness, the presence
of cowardice. What a slaughterer of years,
what a sacrificer of happiness and ambitions,
what a miner of careers this monster has
been ! The Bible says, " A broken spirit drieth
the bones." It is well known that mental de-
pression — melancholy — will check very mate-
rially the glandular secretions of the body and
literally dry up the tissues.

Fear depresses normal mental action, and
renders one incapable of acting wisely in an
emergency, for no one can think clearly and
act wisely when paralyzed by fear.

When a man becomes melancholy and dis-
couraged about his affairs, when he is filled
with fear that he is going to fail, and is
haunted by the spectre of poverty and a suffer-
ing family, before he realizes it, he attracts the
very thing he dreads, and the prosperity is



FEAR, CURSE OF THE RACE 241

crushed out of his business. But he is a mental
failure first.

If, instead of giving up to his fear, a man
would persist in keeping prosperity in his
mind, assume a hopeful, optimistic attitude,
and would conduct his business in a system-
atic, economical, far-sighted manner, actual
failure would be comparatively rare. But when
a man becomes discouraged, when he loses
heart and grip, and becomes panic-stricken, he
is not in a position to make the effort which
is absolutely necessary to bring victory, and
there is a shrinkage all along the line.

He is in no condition to ward off the evil
before which he cowers. His mental attitude
lowers his vitality, lessens his powers of re-
sistance, vitiates his efficiency, and ruins his
resourcefulness.

One of the worst forms of fear is that of a
foreboding of some evil to come, which hangs
over the life like a threatening cloud over a
volcano before an eruption.

Some people are always suffering from this
peculiar phase of fear. They are apprehensive
that some great misfortune is coming to them,
that they are going to lose their money or their
position ; or they are afraid of accident, or that
some fatal disease is developing in them. If



242 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

their children are away they see them in all
sorts of catastrophes — railroad wrecks, burn-
ing cars, or shipwrecks. They are always pic-
turing the worst. " You never can tell what
will happen," they say, " and it is better to
prepare for the worst."

I know a woman who went through the
most heartrending experiences for years in an-
ticipation of a catastrophe which she believed
would prove so overwhelming that it could not
possibly leave any hope behind ; but when the
thing occurred that she had dreaded for so
long, she was surprised to find that it did not
overwhelm her.

How we suffer all our lives from the fear
of accident — ^the fear of being run over in the
streets, the fear of being mairaed, of losing
our limbs, the fear of railroad accidents, of
accidents on the ocean, the fear of lightning,
of earthquakes — fear of all kinds ! And yet
here we are at the present moment, most of
us without the loss of a finger, and many
without even a scratch or a scar, although we
have, perhaps, travelled a great deal over the
world for a lifetime.

How we are dogged with this fear fiend all
our lives !

Many women have such a terror of snakes



FEAR, CURSE OF THE RACE 243

that they never take any comfort while in the
country. They are always imagining they are
going to step on one or run across one. This
dread ruins their vacations, for they never dare
go in the woods or walk on the grass.

I have known women who lived in rattle-
snake regions to be so terror-stricken for fear
they should run across these snakes that they
never dared go anywhere alone, and always
lived in anticipation of seeing these terrible
creatures.

Some people who travel in the tropics have
such fear of poisonous insects and reptiles that
they never have a minute's peace while they
are there. They are always imagining these
terrible creatures are crawling over them in
the night.

I know a man who is a born coward regard-
ing physical pain, and who lives in such terror
of sickness and disease that he makes himself
constantly wretched by anticipating maladies
which never affect him. If he feels a cold
coming on, he is sure he is going to have an
acute attack of the grip. If he has a sore
throat, he thinks it is going to develop into
tonsillitis, and that he will not be able to swal-
low. If he has a little palpitation after eating
a hearty meal, caused by undue pressure upon



244 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

the heart, he imagines he is going to be a vic-
tim of serious heart trouble.

He has become so finicky about his health
that he is a perfect nuisance to his family and
to his friends. He is always wanting windows
closed, or more heat, or he wants — nobody
knows what he will want. Plis friends do
not like to invite him to go anywhere with
them, because he is so particular about his
food, and he always imagines he is going to
be burned up in a hotel or killed on a train
or steamboat.

It is true this is an exaggerated case ; but
there are vast multitudes of people who are
under a similar domination of fear and appre-
hension all their lives. I know people who
never get happiness out of life, except in little
snatches. They work like slaves to get to-
gether enough property to carry them through,
as they say, yet they never enjoy it. They look
on life as terribly serious. They are always
afraid they are going to lose their property,
or that something fearful is going to happen.

The most deplorable waste of energy in hu-
man life is caused by the fatal habit of anti-
cipating evil, of fearing what the future has
in store for us, and under no circumstances
can the fear or worry be justified by the situa-



FEAR. CURSE OF THE RACE 245

tion, for it is always an imaginary one, utterly
groundless and without foundation.

What we fear is invariably something that
has not yet happened. It does not exist ; hence
is not a reality. If you are actually suffering
from a disease you have feared, then fear only
aggravates every painful feature of your ill-
ness and makes its fatal issue more probable.

The fear habit shortens life, for it impairs
all the physiological processes. Its power is
shown by the fact that it actually changes the
chemical composition of the secretions of the
body. Fear victims not only age prematurely
but they also die prematurely.

Sensitive, nervous people, and those who are
physically weak, suffer most from fear. We all
know how the imagination tends to exaggerate
everything, and people with sensitive, nervous
organizations, and those in feeble health usu-
ally imagine that the worst possible will hap-
pen. Strong, robust health itself will kill a '
great many fears which cause intense suffer-
ing when the vitality is low and the power
of resistance is weak.

Many people live so perpetually under the
dominion of this demon, that they never de-
velop normally. As children, their lives were
starved and stunted ; they were inoculated with



246 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

the germ of fear way back in childhood when
the mother was constantly reminding the little
ones of terrible results which would follow if
they did this or that. Fear shadows were con-
stantly projected into their susceptible little
minds, until the demon became so thoroughly
intrenched in their lives that it follows them
through the years like a hideous ghost, hover-
ing round to destroy their peace of mind and
happiness. Every ugly thing told to a child,
every shock, every fright given him will re-
main like splinters in the flesh to torture him
all his life long. Anxiety, fear, horror, will
twine themselves round these memories.

A mother little realizes the cruel thing she is
doing when she impresses upon a child's plastic
mind the terrible image of fear, which, like
letters cut on a sapling, grows wider and
deeper with age.

A perfectly normal child, with no inherited
fear tendencies, would not know the meaning
of fear. It was not intended that we should be
followed and hounded through life by this
demon. It is a creature born in our own brain,
the offspring of our own thinking and acting.
Everywhere we see the terrible havoc that fear
has wrought in human lives. The premature
wrinkles, the gray hair, the stooping shoul-



FEAR, CURSE OF THE RACE 247

ders, the anxious faces we see on all sides are
the out-picturing of foreboding fear thought.

A noted nerve specialist says : " Thousands
of times I have been compelled to recognize
the sad fact that at least eighty per cent of
morbidly timid children could have been cured
and saved, in time, by common-sense prin-
ciples of psychological and physiological hy-
giene, in which the main factor is suggestion
inspired by wholesome courage."

It is much easier for the mother or nurse
to frighten a child into submission than to
soothe it, reason with it, and the weak, igno-
rant, thoughtless mother constantly appeals to
the child's fear as the quickest, most effect-
ive means of securing obedience.

" Fear runs like a baleful thread through
the whole web of Hfe from beginning to end,"
says Dr. Holcomb. " We are born into the
atmosphere of fear and dread, and the mother
who bore us had lived in the same atmosphere
for weeks and months before we were born.
We are afraid of our parents, afraid of our
teachers, afraid of our playmates, afraid of
ghosts, afraid of rules and regulations and
punishments, afraid of the doctor, the dentist,
the surgeon. Our adult life is a state of chronic
anxiety, which is fear in a milder form. We



248 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

are afraid of failure in business, afraid of dis-
appointments and mistakes, afraid of enemies,
open or concealed ; afraid of poverty, afraid of
public opinion, afraid of accidents, of sickness,
of death, and unhappiness after death. Man is
like a haunted animal from the cradle to the
grave, the victim of real or imaginary fears,
not only his own, but those reflected upon him
from the superstitions, self-deceptions, sensory
illusions, false beliefs, and concrete errors of
the whole human race, past and present."

Most of us are foolish children, afraid of
our shadows, so handicapped in a thousand
ways that we cannot get efficiency into our
life work.

The recent spectacle of multitudes of people
(many of them waiting in line all night) draw-
ing their money out of perfectly solid banks
and trust companies is a good illustration of the
power of fear to bring about a financial panic,
even in the midst of prosperity. There was
absolutely no real cause for this panic which,
for a time, played such havoc in the financial
world. It was started by gamblers and pro-
moters, who were posing as bankers ; men who
used sacred trust assets to rig the stock mar-
ket, and to promote their own schemes gen-
erally. This financial storm came out of a clear



FEAR, CURSE OF THE RACE 249

sky, and when we were enjoying unusual pros-
perity. Capital was well employed ; compara-
tively few people were out of work in the
entire country. Almost any one, with any sort
of ability, who was willing' to work, could find
employment. There was no extended economic
disturbance anywhere, and the business of our
marvellous country was never in better con-
dition.

The moment a distrust is expressed by a
few leading financiers in a town, weaker, less
acute minds naturally magnify their fears and
spread their doubts until the whole community
is aflFected. Then the panic contagion trickles
through the masses until we hear hard times
talked about by the day laborer, discussed
everywhere, in the cars, on the streets, in the
saloons, and the imagination pictures multi-
tudes out of work and hungry.

In other words, the mind is set toward the
things people expect and believe are coming,
and, of course, this tends to bring them about.
If they would stop talking down and would
talk up, they could arrest these mental hard-
time panics, as confidence is almost omnip-
otent. Of course panics often have a real
cause — as the shortage of crops — but even then
they are exaggerated very greatly by fear,



250 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

which always predicts infinitely worse condi-
tions than actually materialize^

What sufferers many of us are for fear of
the criticism and ridicule of others! How
many people live in terror of Mrs. Grundy,
or what people will think ! Every step they take
in life they suffer from fear of what others
will say. Many people are more afraid of ridi-
cule than almost anything else. Oh, how many
victims fear has put into the grave! It has
driven people into all sorts of crime through
unbalancing the mind. It has caused terrible
tragedies in human life.

One pathetic case is that of an Indiana
farmer who was asked to come to the office of
his friend, a physician, supposedly for a
friendly purpose. He found the members of
the lunacy board there to inquire into his
sanity. "

" My God, John ! " he exclaimed, looking
at his friend, " would you send me to the mad-
house ? " After this exclamation he became
speechless, then unconscious, half paralyzed,
and died in a few hours.

A Dutch painter went into a room filled with
skeletons and other anatomical subjects, in or-
der to make sketches for a painting. He was
weary, and fell asleep. Suddenly he was



FEAR, CURSE OF THE RACE 251

aroused by an earthquake shock. The awful
picture of shaking skeletons that confronted
him on awakening so terrified the painter that
he threw himself out of a window, and, al-
though he received no physical injury, he died
of a nervous tremor.

There are many instances of soldiers who
have died of fright because they thought they
had been fatally shot, when the bullets or shells
had not even penetrated the body.

Dr. William E. Parker, of New Orleans,
says he was once asked to attend a big negro
who had been taken to the hospital in an am-
bulance. The students in charge of the ambu-
lance had frightened the man by telling him
that he had been mortally wounded by the
bullet which had struck him during a fight.
Although this negro was big, robust, and black,
yet he became almost white with fear, and
" the convulsive tremors that shook him from
time to time revealed a state of collapse that
might end in death at any time." Investigation
showed that there had been no outward flow
of blood, but that the negro had been told by
the students that there might be a fatal inter-
nal hemorrhage. He knew he had been hit, for
he had seen the hole made by the bullet in his
clothing, and his fear increased rather than



252 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

diminished. Examination revealed the fact
that the bullet had not entered his body at all.
It had struck a button and flattened out, and
when his clothing was removed it dropped to
the floor. When the doctor held up the flat-
tened bullet for the negro to see, he was in a
state of collapse. In an instant the blood re-
turned to his face, the pulse and the tempera-
ture quickly became normal, a grateful sparkle
lit up the almost glassy eyeballs, and the broad-
est possible grin spread over the face of the
erstwhile dying man.

The negro got down from the table and,
after apologizing for the trouble he had given,
walked away in perfect health, although only
a few minutes before he had been very near
death.

It is well known that when a man's foot is
caught in what is called a " frog in the switch "
of a railroad track so that he cannot withdraw
it, and he realizes that a train is rushing upon
him with no possibility of his escaping, the
terror of impending death from the approach-
ing train so poisons his blood that, even though
he is rescued, death usually results.

Courage should be taught in the schools,
because everything that men strive for — suc-
cess and happiness — are dependent upon it.



FEAR, CURSE OF THE RACE 253

Then, again, it enhances tremendously the
power of all the other mental faculties. Cour-
age compensates for many defects and weak-
nesses.

A man who is filled with fear is not a real
man. He is a puppet, a mannikin, an apology
of a man.

Quit fearing things that may never happen,
just as you would quit any bad practice which
has caused you suffering. Fill your mind


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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPeace, power, and plenty → online text (page 11 of 14)