Orison Swett Marden.

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body, it does not seem strange that a sugges-
tion can cause or cure dyspephbo and other
ills. If it is possible to make the hypnotic sub-
ject stagger and reel like a drunken man, just
by holding in his mind the suggestion that a
glass of pure water he drank was whiskey, it



is certainly possible to produce all sorts of
effects by mental suggestion.

Some examples of the marvellous power
of suggestion are given by Dr. Frederik Van
Eden, a graduate of medicine at the Uni-
versity of Amsterdam, and an advocate of the
psychotherapeutic method of healing the sick.
In speaking of Professor Debove, of Paris,
an authority in such cases, he said:

" At his clinic in the hospital of St. Andral
he showed me how he could give a patient a
glass of water, telling him that it was wine,
and how the patient took it for wine. I saw
how he told a man that a cold silver spoon
was glowing hot, and how the man dropped
it with every token of burning pain. How he
gave another a book and said : ' Look at it ;
it's all white paper ! all blank ! . . . Now blow
on it. Look again ! — it's all portraits, all por-
traits ! Now blow again ! — all landscapes and
pictures ! Look ! ' And the man saw every-
thing in great amazement, and even described
the landscapes and portraits which nobody
saw but 1 self. ' Well, I never saw magic
like this,' said the man.

" ' ril do better,' said Debove. ' Shut your
eyes. When you open them, I have no head.'
And as the man looked up he stared at the


professor with a wild, scared look. ' Well,*
said Debove, ' how do you like me without
my head ? ' And the poor man struck his own
head with a violent blow and said : ' For sure,
I have gone mad ! ' "

I have seen an experiment tried on a horse,
to make him believe he was sick. He was
covered with blankets, rubbed with medicines,
pitied and petted until he lost his appetite, and
could not be induced to eat or drink. Another
perfectly sound horse was so thoroughly con-
vinced, in a short time, by the holding up of
his foot, feeling of it, bandaging it, and rub-
bing it with liniment, that he was lame, that
he actually limped when he attempted to walk.

It is well known that the fears, the anxieties,
and the worries of mothers have a great deal
to do with the diseases of their children.

The expectant mental attitude of nervous
mothers who are always on the lookout for
the enemies of their darlings tends to invite, to
attract, the very things they fear. Constantly
watching for symptoms of any disease that
happens to be in their neighborhood, the
mental pictures photographed on their brains
are quickly communicated to the impression-
able mind of the child and impair his bodily


In a home which I visited recently, the
mother kept telling her little boy how ill he
looked, asking him how he felt, and giving
him doses of this and doses of that. At least
half a dozen times during the evening she
asked the different children of the family how
they felt, if they had a headache or a cold.
She was worried all the time about them;
afraid they would get into draughts, go out-
doors bareheaded, or get their feet wet. She
was constantly warning them to avoid these
things, and telling them that if they didn't
they would get croup, or pneumonia, or some-
thing terrible would happen to them. In other
words, she kept the picture of physical discord
constantly in the minds of her children. The
result was that some member of the family
was sick most of the time. The mother said
she could not go out much because there was
so much sickness in her family.

The father was almost as bad as the mother
in worrying about the health of the family.
He would call his little boy to him, feel his
pulse, tell him his skin was hot, that he was
feverish ; he would look at his tongue and
remark that he was a sick boy. The result was
the boy actually thought himself sick and had
to go to bed.


How little parents realize the harm they do
in projecting their own discordant thoughts
and fears into their children's receptive minds,
thus tending to develop the very thing they
are trying to avoid !

Think of children being brought up in such
an atmosphere of fear and anxiety and disease-
picturing, constantly warned of danger, and
cautioned all the time not to do this or that,
until they begin to think there are very few
things that a person can do with safety ! They
grow up with a terrible fear of disease that
becomes a perpetual nightmare.

If parents only knew what an unmitigated
curse fear of disease is, they would try to
drive it out of their children's minds ; they
never would picture symptoms of physical
discord of any kind.

We are just beginning to appreciate the
marvellous power of suggestion to uplift or
depress the mind. Only recently I heard a very
intelligent woman say that she was forced to
take to her bed for the greater part of a day
because of the depressing influence of a maga-
zine story she had just read. The story was
written by a famous writer. It was strong,
but brutal. It appealed to what was morbid in
her mind and completely prostrated her.


It is common for medical students to be-
come ill through the horrible suggestions of
the dissecting rooms, and the depressing in-
fluence which comes from the constant study
of disease conditions.

On the other hand, the constant mental con-
tact with cheerful, hopeful, health thoughts,
must tend to reproduce the corresponding
qualities in the body.

The mind of a sick person is in more or less
of a helpless, subjective, negative condition,
and is very susceptible to thought influences,
good or bad. In health, the positive, creative
mental attitude gives the mind the power of
resistance, which protects it from its enemies.

Most of us know what a glorious uplift and
stimulus we have received when ill, from a
call from one who is cheerful and optimistic,
and who injects hope and courage into us.
And we know how we dread to have some
people call on us when we are ill, because they
rob us of hope and leave us in such a dejected
mood by their long faces and pessimistic
minds. They always leave the depressing shad-
ows of gloom and discouragement behind them.

Sick people, like children, require a great
deal of encouragement. They want hope held
out to them.


Imagine what an uplift it would be to a
patient if his physician, nurse, relatives, and
friends were all trying to radiate hope, good
cheer, and courage, as will be the common
custom in the future !

The cheerful, optimistic physician, who is
always reassuring his patients, arousing their
healing energies (potencies which are in all
of us), telling them how well they look, hold-
ing out hope to them, and trying to cheer
them up, has a powerful influence for good.
The optimism of many physicians is worth
infinitely more to their patients than all the
remedies they prescribe.

I once knew two physicians in hospitals in
Boston who illustrated this point. One was an
extreme optimist with a keen sense of humor.
He was always cracking jokes with the pa-
tients, cheering them up, and telling funny
stories. The whole atmosphere of the wards
was entirely changed after he had passed
through them. His bright, cheerful face and
sunny optimism gave the patients a great up-

The other physician was morose, stern,
silent, profound, a man of great learning but
of few words and who seldom smiled. If he
found a patient not looking quite so well as


usual he did not hesitate to tell him so, and
that he was losing ground.

He was conscientious and always said what
he thought, even when it was cruel. The
sick one, thus discouraged, would often im-
mediately lose heart and collapse.

Physicians little realize how implicitly pa-
tients pin their faith to them and how closely
they watch their faces for signs of encourage-
ment, a ray of hope.

The most advanced physicians of all schools
are beginning to see the uplifting force and
healing power in a patient's own confidence in
his recovery.

Some conscientious physicians think they
should always tell the patient exactly how
he is, that it is his right to know, especially
when in extreme danger. Now, there might
be reason in this if the physician were om-
niscient, if he never erred in his diagnosis,
if he could measure with exactitude every
force acting in the man ; but even the most
learned physicians feel that they know com-
paratively little about the human mechanism.
They know that patients often recover after
eminent physicians in consultation have given
up all hope. Why should they not give the
patient the benefit of a doubt, especially when


they know the power of a depressing thought
or unfavorable verdict on one in an extremely
weak condition? Does a physician owe his
patient a greater duty than to help him all he
can to recover? There is a great healing
power in hope, in confidence.

The influence of the strong mind of the
physician on the weak, discouraged, exhausted
patient is far-reaching and he should give him
as much mental uplift and hope as possible
There are times when a physician owes his
patient an infinitely greater duty than to tell
him the truth, or what he believes to be the

The power of suggestion on expectant minds
is often little less than miraculous. An invalid
with a disappointed ambition, who thinks he
has been robbed of his chances in life, and
who has suffered for years, becomes all
wrought up over some new remedy which is
advertised to do marvels. He is in such an
expectant state of mind that he is willing to
make any sacrifice to obtain the remedy, and
when he gets it, he is in such a receptive mood
that he responds quickly to the suggestion and
thinks it is the medicine he has taken which
has worked the magic.

Religious history is full of examples of peo-


pie who have been cured by going to famed
springs, by bathing in sacred waters, or
streams supposed to have great curative

People who go to health resorts attribute
their improvement to change of air or to the
waters they drink, when, as a matter of fact,
it has probably been wrought by change of
environment, change of mental suggestion, as
much as by the change of air or water.

Buoyancy of mind, courage, hope, and
cheerfulness are factors that far outweigh
drugs in the cure of the sick, and should be
encouraged in every possible way.

The trouble with us is that we do not realize
the omnipotent remedies that lie within our
own minds. There is not a human ill which
does not have its specific remedy — not a pallia-
tive, but an absolute cure — named in the Bible.

Nothing is more strongly emphasized in the
Sacred Book than the fact that love heals.
We have suggestions of this in the balm of
the mother love which soothes and cures the
child's fears and all its little hurts and ills.
How naturally the child runs to the mother for
a kiss to heal its bruises, and into the shelter
of her arms to ward ofif whatever it fears !

If the child feels this healing power of the


mother love, what shall we say of the potency
of divine love — love that is selfless ? The Bible
assures us that " perfect love casteth out
fear," and fear is one of the most potent
sources of discord and disease.

What better remedy could be imagined for
those suffering from fear — the greatest enemy
of the human race — than is to be found in the
study and application of the ninety-first psalm ?
Could anything be more reassuring than the
opening words of this grand psalm — " He that
dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty " ?

There is no fear, no fit of the " blues," no
despondency or discouragement, which this
psalm, if properly studied and applied, would
not cure. Think what its realization would
mean to those who are in the very depths of
despair. Could there be any other refuge such
as that " under the shadow of the Almighty "?

He who lives close to God (good), who
abides in His love, fears nothing, is not wor-
ried or anxious, because he feels always the
protection of omnipotent Power and infinite

A few passages from the Scriptures will
show how freely and fully abundant life,
health, strength — all good things — are prom-


ised to those who heed the words of God, who
love Him and put their faith in Him.

Attend to my words. . . . For they are life
unto those that find them, and health to all
their flesh. — Prov. iv, 20, 22.

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew
their strength ; they shall mount up with wings
as eagles ; they shall run, and not be weary ; and
they shall walk, and not faint. — Isaiah xl, 31.

He sent his word and healed them. — Psalm
cvii, 20.

I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.
— Psalm XXX, 2.

His flesh shall be fresher than a child's. —
Job xxxiii, 25.

For I will restore health unto thee, and I
will heal thee of thy wounds. — Jer. xxx, 17.

Behold, I will heal thee. — H Kings xx, 5.

Then shall thy light break forth as the
morning, and thine health shall spring forth
speedily. — Isaiah Iviii, 8.

I am the Lord that healeth thee. — Exodus
XV, 26.

There shall be no more death, neither sor-
row, nor crying, neither shall there be any
more pain ; for the former things are passed
away. — Rev. xxi, 4.

" Neither shall any plague " (discord or


harm) "come nigh thy dwelHng" (Psalm xci,
10), is the promise to him that " dwelleth in the
secret place of the Most High" (Psalm xci, i).

Let thine heart keep my commandments :
For length of days, and long life, and peace,
shall they add to thee. — Prov. iii, 1-3.

When we are thoroughly intrenched in the
conviction of our unity with the All-good ;
when we realize that we do not take on health
from outside by acquiring it, but that we are
health ; that we do not absorb a bit of justice,
here and there, but that we are justice; that
we do not take on truth, a little here and a
little there, but that we are truth itself, prin-
ciple, then we shall really begin to live.

I believe that most people are conscious of
a power deep in their nature which would
remedy all their ills if they only knew how
to get hold of it. We all feel that there is
something divine in us, something in the flesh
that is not of it, a power back of the flesh
that will ultimately redeem us and bring us
into the state of blessedness which we instinc-
tively feel is the right of the children of the
King of kings. ("The great end of life is to
train ourselves to find this creative, rejuvenat-
ing, life-giving force and to ai)ply it to our
everyday life. )



"The face cannot betray the years until the mind has
given its consent. The mind is the sculptor."

"We renew our bodies by renewing our thoughts;
change our bodies, our habits, by changing our


OT long ago the former secre-
tary to a justice of the New
York Supreme Court com-
mitted suicide on his seven-
tieth birthday.

" The Statute of Limita-
tions ; a Brief Essay on the
Osier Theory of Life," was found beside the
dead body. It read in part :

" Threescore and ten — this is the scriptural
statute of limitations. After that, active work
for man ceases, his time on earth has ex-
pired. . . .

" I am seventy — threescore and ten — and I
am fit only for the chimney-corner. . . ."

This man had dwelt so long on the so-called
Osier theory — that a man is practically use-
less and only a burden to himself and the
world after sixty — and the biblical limitation
of life to threescore years and ten, that he
made up his mind he would end it all on his
seventieth birthday.



Leaving aside Dr. Osier's theory, there is no
doubt that the acceptance in a strictly literal
sense of the biblical life limit has proved a
decided injury to the race. We are powerfully
influenced by our self-imposed limitations and
convictions, and it is well known that many
people die very near the limit they set for
themselves, even though they are in good
health when this conviction settles upon them.
Yet there is no probability that the Psalmist
had any idea of setting any limit to the life
period, or that he had any authority whatever
for so doing. Many of the sayings in the Bible
which people take so literally and accept
blindly as standards of living are merely fig-
ures of speech used to illustrate an idea. So
far as the Bible is concerned, there is just as
much reason for setting the life limit at one
hundred and twenty or even at Methuselah's
age (nine hundred and sixty-nine) as at sev-
enty or eighty. There is no evidence in the
Scriptures that even suggests the existence
of an age limit beyond which man was not
supposed or allowed to pass.

In fact the whole spirit of the Bible is to
encourage long life through sane and health-
ful living. It points to the duty of living a
useful and noble life, of making as much of


ourselves as possible, all of which tends to
prolong our years on earth.

It would be a reflection upon the Creator to
suggest that He would limit human life to less
than three times the age at which it reaches
maturity (about thirty) when all the analogy
of nature, especially in the animal kingdom,
points to at least five times the length of the
maturing period. Should not the highest mani-
festation of God's creation have a length of
life at least equal to that of the animal?
Infinite wisdom does not shake the fruit off
the tree before it is ripe.

We do not half realize what slaves we are to
our mental attitudes, what power our convic-
tions have to influence our lives. Multitudes
of people undoubtedly shorten their lives by
many years because of their deep-seated con-
victions that they will not live beyond a certain
age — the age, perhaps, at which their parents
died. How often we hear this said : " I do not
expect to live to be very old ; my father and
mother died young."

Not long ago a New York man, in perfect
health, told his family that he was certain he
should die on his next birthday. On the morn-
ing of his birthday his family, alarmed because
he refused to go to work, saying that he


should certainly die before midnight, insisted
upon calling in the family physician, who ex-
amined him and said there was nothing the
matter with him. But the man refused to eat,
grew weaker and weaker during the day, and
actually died before midnight. The conviction
that he was going to die had become so in-
trenched in his mind that the whole force of
his mentality acted to cut off the life force, and
finally to strangle completely the life processes.

Now, if this man's conviction could have
been changed by some one who had sufficient
power over him, or if the mental suggestion
that he was going to live to a good old age
had been implanted in his mind in place of the
death idea, he would probably have lived many
years longer.

If you have convinced yourself, or if the
idea has been ingrained into the very structure
of your being by your training or the multi-
tudes of examples about you, that you will be-
gin to show the marks of age at about fifty,
that at sixty you will lose the power of your
faculties, your interest in life ; that you will
become practically useless and have to retire
from your business, and that thereafter you
will continue to decline until you are cut off
entirely, there is no power in the world that


can keep the old-age processes and signs from
developing in you.

Thought leads. If it is an old-age thought,
old age must follow. If it is a youthful thought,
a perennial young-life thought, a thought of
usefulness and helpfulness, the body must
correspond. Old age begins in the mind. The
expression of age in the body is the harvest
of old-age ideas which have been planted in
the mind. We see others about our age begin-
ning to decline and show marks of decrepitude,
and we imagine it is about time for us to show
the same signs. Ultimately we do show them,
because we think they are inevitable. But they
are only inevitable because of our old-age
mental attitude and race habit beliefs.

If we actually refuse to grow old ; if we
insist on holding the youthful ideal and the
young, hopeful, buoyant thought, the old-age
ear-marks will not show themselves.

The elixir of youth lies in the mind or no-
where. You cannot be young by trying to
appear so, by dressing youthfully. You must
first get rid of the last vestige of thought that
you are aging. As long as that is in the mind,
cosmetics and youthful dress will amount
to very little in changing your appearance.
The conviction must first be changed; the


thought which has produced the aging con-
dition must be reversed.

If we can only establish the perpetual-youth
mental attitude, so that we feel young, we have
won half the battle against old age. Be sure of
this, that whatever you feel regarding your
age will be expressed in your body.

It is a great aid to the perpetuation of
youth to learn to feel young, however long
we may have lived, because the body ex-
presses the habitual feeling, habitual thought.
Nothing in the world will make us look young
as long as we are convinced that we are

Nothing else more effectually retards age
than the keeping in mind the bright, cheerful,
optimistic, hopeful, buoyant picture of youth,
in all its splendor, magnificence ; the picture
of the glories which belong to youth — youth-
ful dreams, ideals, hopes, and all the qualities
which belong to young life.

One great trouble with us is that our im-
aginations age prematurely. The hard, exact-
ing conditions of our modern, strenuous life
tend to harden and dry up the brain and
nerve cells, and thus seriously injure the
power of the imagination, which should be
kept fresh, buoyant, elastic. The average rou-


tine habit of modern business life tends to
destroy the flexibility, the delicacy, the sensi-
tiveness, the exquisite fineness of the percep-
tive faculties.

C People who take life too seriously, who
seem to think everything depends upon their
own individual efforts, whose lives are one
continuous grind in living-getting, have a
hard expression, their thought outpictures
itself in their faces. These people dry up
early in life, become wrinkled ; their tissues
become as hard as their thought. )

The arbitrary, domineering, overbearing
mind also tends to age the body prematurely,
because the thinking is hard, strained, ab-

People who live on the sunny and beautiful
side of life, who cultivate serenity, do not age
nearly so rapidly as do those who live on the
shady, the dark side.

Another reason why so many people age
prematurely is because they cease to grow.
It is a lamentable fact that multitudes of men
seem incapable of receiving or accepting new
ideas after they have reached middle age.
Many of them, after they have reached the
age of forty or fifty, come to a standstill in
their mental reaching out.


Don't think that you must " begin to take
in sail," to stop growing", stop progressing,
just because you have gotten along in years.
By this method of reasoning you will decline
rapidly. Never allow yourself to get out of
the habit of being young. Do not say that
you cannot do this or that as you once did.
Live the life that belongs to youth. Do not be
afraid of being a boy or girl again in spirit,
no matter how many years you have lived.
Carry yourself so that you will not suggest
old age in any of its phases. Remember it is
the stale mind, the stale mentality, that ages
the body. Keep growing, keep interested in
everything about you.

It has been shown that the conviction that
one is going to die at about a certain time, a
certain age, tends to bring about the expected
dissolution by strangling the life processes.

If you wish to retain your youth, forget
unpleasant experiences, disagreeable inci-
dents. A lady eighty years old was recently
asked how she managed to keep herself so
youthful. She replied : " I know how to for-
get disagreeable things."

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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPeace, power, and plenty → online text (page 6 of 14)