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Orison Swett Marden.

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blood.

There is no constitution so strong but it will
ultimately succumb to the constant racking and
twisting of the nerve centres caused by an
uncontrolled temper. Every time you become
angry you reverse all of the normal, mental,



THE EXPLOSIVE PASSIONS 277

and physical processes. Everything in you re-
bels against passion storms ; every mental fac-
ulty protests against their abuse.

If people only realized what havoc indul-
gence in hot temper plays in their delicate
nervous structure, if they could only see with
the physical eyes the damage done, as they can
see what follows in the wake of a tornado,
they would not dare to get angry.

The poison generated by angry passions cir-
culating in the blood, affects the centres of life
throughout the whole body. The delicate cells
of the brain and nerves and all of the internal
organs, are deteriorated by the poison-vitiated
blood.

One reason why so many people either have
poor or indifferent health is because the cell
life is continually starved and dwarfed by
vitiated blood. No one can have abundant,
abounding life, a superb vitality ; can reach his
greatest efficiency, when this mental poisoning
process is constantly going on in his system.

Nothing else racks and wrenches the deli-
cate nervous system more than fits of uncon-
trolled temper, jealousy, or raging passion of
any sort. The brain and nervous mechanism
were intended to run quietly, smoothly, har-
moniously, and when so run they are capable



278 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

of an enormous output in good work and hap-
piness. But, like a delicate piece of material
machinery, when overspeeded or not properly
oiled, or when run without a balance wheel to
steady their motion, they will very quickly
shake themselves to pieces.

The man who scolds and frets and fumes
and lets his temper get the better of him, little
realizes what havoc his humor is playing inside
of him, or how he is breaking down his health
and shortening his life.

There is something wrong in the education,
the training of the man who cannot control
himself, who has to confess that he is a man
part of the time only, that the rest of the time
he is a brute ; that often the beast in him is
loose and runs riot in his mental kingdom and
does what it will until he can get control of
himself again.

Zopyrus, the physiognomist, said : " Soc-
rates' features showed that he was stupid,
brutal, sensual, and addicted to drunkenness."
Socrates upheld the analysis by saying : " By
nature I am addicted to all these sins, and they
were only restrained and vanquished by the
continual practice of virtue."

The Creator has implanted in every man a
divine power that is more than a match for his



THE EXPLOSIVE PASSIONS 279

worst passion, for his most vicious trait. If he
will only develop and use this power he need
not be the slave of any vice.

Shakespeare says : " Assume a virtue if you
have it not."

Emerson also says, in eflfect : " The virtue =
you would like to have, assume it as already
yours, appropriate it, enter into the part and
live the character just as the great actor is
absorbed in the character of the part he plays."
No matter how great your weakness or how
much you may regret it, assume steadily and
persistently its opposite until you acquire the
habit of holding that thought, or of living the
thing, not in its weakness, but in its wholeness,
in its entirety. Hold the ideal of an efficient
faculty or quality, not of a marred or deficient
one. The way to reach or to attain to anything
is to bend oneself toward it with all one's
might, and we approximate it just in propor-
tion to the intensity and the persistency of our
eflfort to attain it.

If you are inclined to storm and rage, or if'
you " fly all to pieces " over the least annoy-
ance, do not waste your time regretting this
weakness, and telling everybody that you can-
not help it. Just assume the calm, deliberate,
quiet, balanced composure which characterizes



28o PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

your ideal person in that respect. Persuade
yourself that you are not hot-tempered, ner-
vous, or excitable, that you can control your-
self ; that you are well balanced; that you do
not fly off at a tangent at every little annoy-
ance. You will be amazed to see how the per-
petual holding of this serene, calm, quiet atti-
tude will help you to become like your thought.
No matter what comes up, no matter how
annoying, or exasperating things may be, or
how excited or disturbed other people around
you may be, you will not be thrown off your
centre. All we are or ever have been or ever
will be comes from the quality and force of
our thinking.

A bad temper is largely the result of false
pride, selfishness, and cheap vanity, and no
man who is worthy the name will continue to
be governed by it. There is nothing manly or
noble in the quality which lets loose the " dogs
of war," which in an instant may make ene-
mies of our best friends.

We all know how hard it is to control our
feelings and our words when the blood flows
hot through the frenzied brain, but we also
know how dangerous, how fatal it is to become
slaves to temper. It not only ruins the disposi-
tion and cripples efficiency, but it is also very



THE EXPLOSIVE PASSIONS 281

humiliating; for a man who cannot control
his own acts has to acknowledge that he is
not his own master.

It is dangerous for you even for a few min-
utes to get down off the throne of your reason
and let the beast in you reign. Many a person
has become permanently insane by the growth
of the habit of losing his temper.

Think of a man who was intended to be ab-
solutely master of all the forces of the universe,
stepping down off the throne of his reason and
admitting that he is not a man for the time
being, confessing his inability to control his
own acts, allowing himself to do the mean and
low things, to say the cruel words that hurt
and sting, to throw the hot javelin of sarcasm
into the mind of a perfectly innocent person !
Think of that madness which makes a man
strike down his best friend, or cut him to the
quick with the cruel word !

Anger is temporary insanity. A man must
be insane when he is in the clutches of a demon
that has no regard for life or reputation, a
demon which would bid him kill his best
friend without an instant's hesitation.

The child learns by experience to avoid
touching hot things that will burn him, sharj)
things that will cut him ; but many of us adults



282 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

never learn to avoid the hot temper which sears
and gives us such intense suffering, sometimes
for days and weeks.

The man who has learned the secret of right
thinking and self-control knows just as well
how to protect himself from his mental enemies
as his physical ones. He knows that when the
brain is on fire with passion, it will not do to
add more fuel by storming and raging, but will
quietly apply an antidote which will put out the
fire — the serenity thought, the thought of
peace, quiet, and harmony. The opposite
thought will very quickly antidote the flames.
When a neighbor's house is on fire, we do
not run with an oil-can to put out the flames ;
we do not throw on kerosene, but an antidote.
Yet when a child is on fire with passion we
have been in the habit of trying to put out
the fire by adding fuel to it. What misery,
what crime, what untold suffering might be
prevented by training children to self-control,
by directing their thought into proper chan-
nels!

If we see a person who is mired in a swamp
and desperately struggling to extricate himself,
we run to his rescue without hesitation. We
would not think of adding to his distress or
danger by pushing him in deeper. But some-



THE EXPLOSIVE PASSIONS 283

how when a person is angered, instead of tr>^-
ing to put out the fire of his passion, we only
add fuel to the flames. Yet people who have
bad tempers are often grateful to those who
will help them to do what they are not able
to do themselves, to control them and prevent
them from saying and doing that which will
give them much chagrin afterward.

When next you see a person whose inflam-
mable passion is just ready to explode, and
you know that he is doing his best to hold him-
self down, why not help him, instead of throw-
ing on more inflammable material and starting
the conflagration?

By doing this, you will not only render him
a great service, but you will also strengthen
your own power of self-control. The man who
cannot control himself is like a mariner with-
out a compass — he is at the mercy of every
wind that blows. Every storm of passion, every
wave of irresponsible thought buffets him
hither and thither, drives him out of his course,
and makes it wellnigh impossible for him to
reach the goal of his desires.

Self-control is the very essence of character.
To be able to look a man straight in the eye,
calmly and deliberately, without the slightest
rufile of temper under extreme provocation,



284 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

gives a sense of power which nothing else can
give. To feel that you are always, not some-
times, master of yourself gives a dignity and
strength to character, buttresses it, supports it
on every side, as nothing else can. This is the
culmination of thought mastery.



XVI. GOOD CHEER— GOD'S
MEDICINE



XVI. GOOD CHEER— GOD'S
MEDICINE

Mirth is God's medicine, everybody ought to bathe
in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety — all the rust of
life — ought to be scoured oflF by the oil of mirth. —
Oliver Wentjell Holmes.

"Talk happiness. The world is sad enough without
your woe."




WOMAN in California, who,
because of crushing sorrow,
had fallen a victim to de-
spondency, insomnia, and kin-
dred ills, determined to throw
off the gloom which was mak-
ing life so heavy a burden to
her, and established a rule that she would
laugh at least three times a day, whether
occasion presented or not. Accordingly, she
trained herself to laugh heartily at the least
provocation, and would retire to her room and
make merry by herself. She was soon in ex-
cellent health and buoyant spirits, and her
home became a sunny, cheerful abode.

If people only knew the medicinal power of
laughter, of good cheer, of the constant un-
repressed expression of joy and gladness, half
the physicians would be out of work.

287



288 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

Did not Lycurgus set up the god of laughter
in the Spartan eating-halls because he thought
there was no sauce like laughter at meals ?

Laughter is undoubtedly one of Nature's
greatest tonics. It brings the disordered facul-
ties and functions into harmony; it lubricates,
the mental bearings and prevents the friction
which monotonous, exacting business engen-
ders. It is a divine gift bestowed upon us as a
life-preserver, a health-promoter, a joy-gener-
ator, a success-maker.

Laughter, like an air cushion, eases you over
the jolts and the hard places on life's highway.
Laughter is always healthy. It tends to bring
every abnormal condition back to the normal.
It is a panacea for heartaches, for life's bruises.
It is a life prolonger. People who keep them-
selves in physical and mental harmony through
hearty laughter are likely to live longer than
those who take life too seriously.

In order to become normal, the natural fun-
loving forces within us must be released.
Laughter is one form of exercise which sets
them free, rescues men from the " blues."

Somewhere I have read of a man whose
" laughing muscles " were so paralyzed that
his laughter sounded like a voice from the
tombs. American life is so serious that many



GOOD CHEER 289

men lose their power to laugh. They can force
a little sepulchral chuckle, but the genuine side-
shaking laughter is almost a stranger to their
experience. They are in such a serious chase
after the dollar, their life is so strenuous, so
given to ^viv;heming and planning, that they
do not have much time to laugh. They do
not know the medicinal value there is in the
habit of laughter, how it clears the cobwebs
out of the brain, disposes of the fangs of worry
and anxiety and business pressure, takes the
mind off the grind of things, removes friction,
and helps to make life worth while.

To people who have lost the laughing habit
I would say : Lock yourself in your room and
practise smiling. Smile at your pictures, fur-
niture, looking-glass, anything, just so the stiff
muscles are brought into play again.

In a corner of his desk Lincoln kept a copy
of the latest humorous iclork, and it was his
habit when fatigued, annoyed, or depressed, to
take this up and read a chapter for relief.
Humor, whether clean, sensible wit or sheer
nonsense — whatever provokes t tnth and makes
a man jollier — is a gift from heaven.

Laughter is a very important element in a
successful career. Many a man who could have
been a success sleeps in a failure's grave to-



290 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

day because he took life too seriously. He
poisoned the atmosphere about him, so that it
became unhealthy, and paralyzed his own
powers.

We often hear people, especially delicate
women who have nervous dyspepr -" say they
do not understand how it is that they can go
out to late suppers or banquets and eat heartily
all sorts of incongruous food without feeling
any inconvenience afterward.

They do not realize that it is due to the
change in the mental attitude. They have had
a good time; they have enjoyed themselves.
The lively conversation, the jokes which caused
them to laugh heartily, the bright, cheerful en-
vironment, completely changed their mental
attitude, and of course these conditions were
reflected in the digestion and every other part
of the system, for lar^hter and good cheer are
enemies of dyspep'O •. Anything which will
divert the dyspeptic's mind from his ailments
will improve his digestion. When they were at
home worryini^ over their health, swallowing a
little dyspe;''Cuewith every mouthful of food,
of course these women could not assimilate
what they ate. But when they were having a
jolly good time they forgot their ailments, and
were surprised afterward to find that they had



GOOD CHEER 291

enjoyed their food and that it did not hurt
them. The whole process is mental.

Use the laugh-cure — the fun-cure — in the
home. Throw away the drugs and save doc-
tors' bills.

" The power of cheerfulness to do good,"
says Dr. Sanderson, "... is not an artificial
stimulus of the tissues, to be followed by reac-
tion and greater waste, as is the case with many
drugs ; but the effect of cheerfulness is an ac-
tual life-giving influence throughout a normal
channel, the results of which reach every part
of the system. It brightens the eye, makes
ruddy the countenance, brings elasticity to the
step, and promotes all the inner force by which
life is sustained. The blood circulates more
freely, the oxygen comes to its home in the
tissues, health is promoted and disease is ban-
ished."

There is no drug which can compete with
cheerfulness. A jolly, whole-hearted, sunny
physician is worth more than all the remedies
in an apothecary shop. What magic we often
see wrought by the arrival of the physician,
especially when the patient is frightened and
nervous. Discouragement, the hopeless expres-
sion, are driven away by his reassuring, con-
fident smile, and many times even severe pain



292 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

is relieved by his mental uplift and encour-
agement.

How eagerly the patient watches the doc-
tor's face for a ray of hope. No drug could
work such magic as does that one encourag-
ing look.

A friend remembers how, as a boy, when the
old family physician used to come to the home
so full of life and joy and gladness, with sun-
shine beaming from every pore, members of
the family would feel absolutely ashamed to
be sick, ashamed to think that God's work,
which was made perfect, should need patch-
ing up.

" The whole atmosphere of the house," he
said, " seemed to change the minute the doctor
entered. His hearty laugh, ringing through the
rooms, as he rubbed his hands before the fire
on a cold winter day, and his mere presence,
did us more good than pills or potions. Some-
how, the very thought of his coming after we
had sent for him seemed to drive away our
troubles."

One of the most successful physicians in
Boston gives very little medicine. His merry
face and cheerful disposition take the sting
out of pain. He replaces despair with hope, dis-
couragement with confidence and a cheerful



GOOD CHEER 293

reassurance, so that the sick feel a decided
uplift in his presence and are filled with a
stronger determination to get well.

Too many of us dry up and become stale,
uninteresting, and abnormal from lack of the
development of the cheerful habit. There is no
one thing which will do so much for the life,
for health, for happiness, as the cultivation of
the cheerful habit, the habit of flinging out
one's joy and gladness everywhere, radiating
good cheer.

The constantly increasing success of the
vaudeville playhouses and other places of
amusement all over this country shows the tre-
mendous demand in the human economy for
fun. Most people do not appreciate that this
demand must be met in some form or the char-
acter will be warped and defective.

What a complete revolution in your whole
physical and mental being takes place after see-
ing a really funny play ! You went to the play
tired, jaded, worn out, discouraged. All your
mental faculties were clogged with brain ash ;
you could not think clearly. When you came
home you were a new being.

A business man, on returning home after
a perplexing, exasj^crating, exhausting day's
work, may experience the same thing. Romp-



294 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

ing and playing with the children, spending
a jolly evening with his family or friends,
telling stories and cracking jokes, rest his
jaded nerves and restore him to his normal
condition. '

I have been as much refreshed by a good,
hearty laugh, by listening to wholesome sto-
ries and jokes, by spending an evening with
friends and having a good time, as by a long,
sound night's sleep ; and I look back upon such
experiences as little vacations.

Anything that will make a man new, that
will clear the cobwebs of discouragement from
his brain and drive away fear, care, and worry,
is of practical value.

We should not look upon fun and humor as
transitory things, but as solid, lasting, perma-
nent medicinal influences on the whole char-
acter.

Why should not having a good time form a
part of our daily programme ? Why should not
this enter into our great life-plan ? Why should
we be serious and gloomy because we have to
work for a living?

There is a moral as well as healing influ-
ence in things which amuse and make us
enjoy life. No one was ever spoiled by good
humor, but tens of thousands have been made



GOOD CHEER 295

better by it. Fun is a food as necessary fo the
wholeness of man as bread.

Who can estimate the good our great hu-
morists have done the world in helping to drive
away care and sorrow, in lightening burdens,
in taking drudgery out of dreary occupations,
in cheering the discouraged and the lonely?

A writer known for his cheerful sayings
received a letter from a lady, stating that one
of his humorous poems had saved her life.

Any one who has brought relief to distressed
souls, who has lifted the burden from saddened,
sorrowing hearts, has done as much good as
any of those who have been civilization
builders.

Few of us really understand the full value
of good cheer and laughter as physiological
and psychological factors. An eminent French
surgeon says that we ought to train children
to habits of mirth.

"Encourage your child to be merry and
laugh aloud," he says. " A good hearty laugh
expands the chest and makes the blood bound
merrily along. Commend me to a good laugh
— not to a little snickering laugh, but to one
that will sound right through the house."

We realize that it is very necessary to train
the mind in business principles ; to train cer-



296 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

tain faculties to do special things, but do not
seem to think it necessary to cultivate the habit
of cheerfulness. Yet not even an education is
as necessary to the child as the formation of
the cheerful habit. This ought to be regarded
as the first essential of the preparation for life
— the training of the mind toward sunshine ;
the developing of every possibility of the cheer-
ful faculties.

The first duty we owe a child is to teach it
to fling out its inborn gladness and joy with
the same freedom and abandon as the bobolink
does when it makes the meadow joyous with
its song. Suppression of the fun-loving nature
of a child means the suppression of its mental
and moral faculties. Joy will go out of the heart
of a child after a while if it is continually sup-
pressed. Mothers who are constantly caution-
ing the little ones not to do this or not to do
that, telling them not to laugh or make a noise,
until they lose their naturalness and become
little old men and women, do not realize the
harm they are doing.

An eminent writer says : " Children without
hilarity will never amount to much. Trees
without blossoms will never bear fruit,"

There is an irrepressible longing for amuse-
ment, for rollicking fun, in young people, and



GOOD CHEER 297

if these longings were more fully met in the
home it would not be so difficult to keep the boy
and girl under the parental roof. I always think
there is something wrong when the father or
the children are so very uneasy to get out of
the house at night and to go off " somewhere "
where they will have a good time. A happy,
joyous home is a powerful magnet to child and
man. The sacred memory of it has kept many
a person from losing his self-respect, and from
the commission of crime.

Fun is the cheapest and best medicine in the
world for your children as well as for your-
self. Give it to them in good large doses. It will
not only save you doctors' bills, but it will also
help to make your children happier, and will
improve their chances in life. We should not
need half so many prisons, insane asylums, and
almshouses if all children had a happy child-
hood.

The very fact that the instinct to play — the
love of fun — is so imperious in the child,
shows a great necessity in its nature which if
suppressed will leave a famine in its life.

A sunny, joyous, happy childhood is to the
individual what a rich soil and genial sun are
to the young plant. If the early conditions are
not favorable, the plant becomes starved and



298 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

stunted and the results cannot be corrected in
the later trees. It is now or never with the
plant. This is true with the human plant. A
starved, suppressed, stunted childhood makes
a dwarfed man. A joyful, happy, fun-loving
environment develops powers, resources, and
possibilities which would remain dormant in a
cold, dull, repressing environment.

How many lives are blank, dry, as uninter-
esting as a desert because cheerfulness was
crushed out of the child life; because the joys
of childhood were never developed. Their
young lives were suppressed and all that was
sweet and juicy crushed out of them in their
early years.

Everywhere we see men and women discon-
tented and unhappy because of the lack of play
in their early life. When the young clay finally
hardened it was unable to respond to a joyful
environment.

Happy recreation has a very subtle influence
upon the mental faculties, which are empha-
sized and heightened by it. How our courage
is strengthened, our determination, our ambi-
tion, our whole outlook on life changed by it.
There seems to be a subtle fluid from humor
and fun which penetrates the entire being,
bathes all the mental faculties, and washes out



GOOD CHEER 299

the brain ash and debris from exhausted cere-
brum and muscles. We have all experienced
the transforming, refreshing, rejuvenating
power of good, wholesome fun.

Many people make anything like joy or hap-
piness impossible by dwelling upon the dis-
agreeable, the unfortunate, unlucky things of
life. They always see the ugly, the crooked,
the wrong side of things.

I once lived in a clerg}nTian's family where
I scarcely heard a person laugh in months.
It seemed to be a part of the inmates' religion
to wear long faces and to be sober-minded and
solemn. They did not have much use for this
world ; they seemed to be living for the world


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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPeace, power, and plenty → online text (page 13 of 14)