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Orison Swett Marden.

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No one can remain youthful who does not
continue to grow, and no one can keep grow-
ing who does not keep alive his interest in the



WHY GROW OLD? 139

great world about him. We are so constituted
that we draw a large part of our nourishment
from others. No man can isolate himself, can
cut himself off from his fellows, without
shrinking in his mental stature. The mind that
is not constantly reaching out for the new, as
well as keeping in touch with the old, soon
reaches its limit of growth.

Nothing else is easier than for a man to age.
All he has to do is to think he is growing old ;
to expect it, to fear it, and prepare for it; to
compare himself with others of the same age
who are prematurely old and to assume that
he is like them.

To think constantly of the " end," to plan
for death, to prepare and provide for declin-
ing years, is simply to acknowledge that your
powers are waning, that you are losing your
grip upon life. Such thinking tends to weaken
your hold upon the life principle, and your
body gradually corresponds with your con-
viction.

The very belief that our powers are waning ;
the consciousness that we are losing strength,
that our vitality is lessening; the conviction
that old age is settling upon us and that our
life forces are gradually ebbing away, has a
blighting, shrivelling influence upon the mental



140 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

faculties and functions ; the whole character
deteriorates under this old-age belief.

The result is that we do not use or develop
the age-resisting forces within us. The refresh-
ening, renewing, resisting powers of the body
are so reduced and impaired by the conviction
that we are getting on in years and cannot
stand what we once could, that we become an
easy prey to disease and all sorts of physical
infirmities.

The mental attitude has everything to do
with the hastening or the retarding of the old-
age condition.

Dr. Metchnikoff, of the Pasteur Institute in
Paris, says that men should live at least one
hundred and twenty years. There is no doubt
that, as a race, we shorten our lives very ma-
terially through our false thinking, our bad
living, and our old-age convictions.

A few years ago the London Lancet, the
highest medical authority in the world, gave
a splendid illustration of the power of the mind
to keep the body young. A young woman, de-
serted by her lover, became insane. She lost
all consciousness of the passing of time. She
believed her lover would return, and for years
she stood daily before her window watching
for him. When over seventy years of age,



WHY GROW OLD? 141

some Americans, including physicians, who
saw her, thought she was not over twenty.
She did not have a single gray hair, and
no wrinkles or other signs of age were vis-
ible. Her skin was as fair and smooth as a
young girl's. She did not age because she be-
lieved she was still a girl. She did not count
her birthdays or worry because she was get-
ting along in years. She was thoroughly con-
vinced that she was still living in the very time
that her lover left her. This mental belief con-
trolled her physical condition. She was just as
old as she thought she zvas. Her conviction
outpictured itself in her body and kept it
youthful.

It is an insult to your Creator that your brain
should begin to ossify, that your mental pow-
ers should begin to decline when you have
only reached the half-century milestone. You
ought then to be in your youth. What has the
appearance of old age to do with youth ? What
have gray hair, wrinkles, and other evidences
of age to do with youth? Mental power
should constantly increase. There should be no
decline in years. Increasing wisdom and power
should be the only signs that you have lived
long, that you have been many years on this
planet. Strength, beauty, magnificence, supe-



142 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

riority, not weakness, uselessness, decrepitude,
should characterize a man who has Uved long.

As long as you hold the conviction that you
are sixty, you will look it. Your thought will
outpicture itself in your face, in your whole
appearance. If you hold the old-age ideal, the
old-age conviction, your expression must cor-
respond. The body is the bulletin board of the
mind.

On the other hand, if you think of yourself
as perpetually young, vigorous, robust, and
buoyant, because every cell in the body is con-
stantly being renewed, decrepitude will not
get hold of you.

If you would retain your youth, you must
avoid the enemies of youth, and there are no
greater enemies than the convictions of age
and the gradual loss of interest in things,
especially in youthful amusements and in the
young life about you. When you are no
longer interested in the hopes and ambitions
of young people ; when you decHne to enter
into their sports, to romp and play with chil-
dren, you confess in effect that you are grow-
ing old ; that you are beginning to harden ;
that your youthful spirits are drying up, and
that the juices of your younger days are
evaporating. Nothing helps more to the per-



WHY GROW OLD? 143

petuation of youth than much association with
the young.

A man quite advanced in years was asked
not long ago how he retained such a youthful
appearance in spite of his age. He said that
he had been the principal of a high school for
over thirty years ; that he loved to enter into
the life and sports of the young people and
to be one of them in their ambitions and in-
terests. This, he said, had kept his mind cen-
tred on youth, progress, and abounding life,
and the old-age thought had had no room for
entrance.

There is not even a suggestion of age in
this man's conversation or ideas, and there is
a life, a buoyancy about him which is won-
derfully refreshing.

There must be a constant activity in the
mind that would not age. " Keep growing or
die " is nature's motto, a motto written all
over everything in the universe.

Hold stoutly to the conviction that it is
natural and right for you to remain young.
Constantly repeat to yourself that it is wrong,
wicked for you to grow old in appearance;
that weakness and decrepitude could not have
l)ecn in the Creator's plan for the man made
in His image of perfection ; that it nuist have



144 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

been acquired — the result of wrong race and
individual training and thinking.

Constantly affirm : " I am always well, al-
ways young, I cannot grow old except by
producing the old-age conditions through my
thought. The Creator intended me for con-
tinual growth, perpetual advancement and
betterment, and I am not going to allow my-
self to be cheated out of my birthright of
perennial youth.'M

No matter if people do say to you : " You
are getting along in years," " You are begin-
ning to show signs of age." Just deny these
appearances. Say to yourself : " Principle does
not age, Truth does not grow old. I am
Principle. I am Truth."

Never go to sleep with the old-age picture
or thought in your mind. It is of the utmost
importance to make yourself feel yovmg at
night; to erase all signs, convictions, and
feelings of age ; to throw aside every care and
worry that would carve its image on your
brain and express itself in your face. The
worrying mind actually generates calcareous
matter in the brain and hardens the cells.

You should fall asleep holding those desires
and ideals uppermost in the mind which are
dearest to you ; which you are the most anxious



WHY GROW OLD? 145

to realize. As the mind continues to work
during sleep, these desires and ideals are thus
intensified and increased. It is well known that
impure thoughts and desires work terrible
havoc then. Purity of thought, loftiness of
purpose, the highest possible aims, should
dominate the mind when you fall asleep.

When you first wake in the morning, espe-
cially if you have reached middle life or later,
picture the youthful qualities as vividly as pos-
sible. Say to yourself : " I am young, always
young — strong — buo}'ant. I cannot grow old
and decrepit, because in the truth of my being
I am divine, and Divine Principle cannot age.
It is only the negative in me, the unreality,
that can take on the appearance of age."

The great thing is to make the mind cre-
ate the youth pattern instead of the old-age
pattern. As the sculptor follows the model
which he holds in the mind, so the life proc-
esses reproduce in the body the pattern which
is in our thought, our conviction.

We must get rid of the idea embedded in
our very nature that the longer we live, the
more experiences we have, the more work we
do, the more inevitably we wear out and be-
come old, decrepit, and useless. We must learn
that living, acting, experiencing, should not



146 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

exhaust life but create more life. It is a law
that action increases force. Where, then, did
the idea come from that man should wear
out through action?

C As a matter of fact. Nature has bestowed
upon us perpetual youth, the power of per-
petual renewal. There is not a single cell in
our bodies that can possibly become old ; the
body is constantly being made new through
cell-renewal ; and as the cells of these parts of
the body that are most active are renewed
oftenest, it must follow that the age-producing
process is largely artificial and unnatural.

Physiologists tell us that the tissue cells of
some muscles are renewed every few hours,
others every few days or weeks. The cells of
the bone tissues are slower of renewal, but
some authorities estimate that eighty or ninety
per cent of all the cells in the body of a person
of ordinary activity are entirely renewed in
from six to twelve months.

Scientists have proved beyond question that
the chemistry of the body has everything to
do with the perpetuation of youthful condi-
tions. Every discordant thought produces a
chemical change in the cells, introducing for-
eign substances and causing reaction which is
injurious to the integrity of the cells.



WHY GROW OLD? 147

The impression of age is thus made upon
new cells. This impression is the thought. If
the thought is old, the age impress appears
upon the cells. If the spirit of youth dominates
the thought, the impression upon the cells is
youthful. In other words, the processes which
result in age cannot possibly operate except
through the mind, and the billions of cells
composing the body are instantly affected by
every thought that passes through the brain.

Putting old thoughts into a new set of cells
is like putting old wine into new bottles. They
don't agree ; they are natural enemies. The re-
sult is that two-year-old cells are made to look
fifty, sixty, or more years old, according to
the thought. It is marvellous hozu quickly old
thoughts can make new cells appear old.

All discordant and antagonistic thought
materially interferes with the laws of recon-
struction and self-renewal going on in the
body, and the great thing is, therefore, to form
thought habits which will harmonize with this
law of rejuvenation — perpetual renewal.

Hard, selfish, worry, and fear thoughts,
and vicious habits of all kinds, produce the
appearance of age and hasten its coming.

Pessimism is one of the worst enemies of
youth. The pessimist ages prematurely be-



148 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

cause his mind dwells upon the black, dis-
cordant, and diseased side of things. The pes-
simist does not progress, does not face toward
youth ; he goes backward, and this retrogres-
sion is fatal to youthful conditions. Brightness,
cheerfulness, hopefulness characterize youth.

Everything that is abnormal tends to pro-
duce old-age conditions. No one can remain
young, no matter to what expedients he may
resort to enable him to erase the marks of
age, who worries and indulges in excessive
passion. The mental processes produce all
sorts of things, good or bad, according to the
pattern in the mind.

Selfishness is abnormal and tends to harden
and dry up the brain and nerve cells. We are
so constituted that we must be good to be
happy, and happiness spells youthfulness.
Selfishness is an enemy of happiness because
it violates the very fundamental principle of
our being — justice, fairness. We protest
against it, we instinctively despise and think
less of ourselves for practising it. It does not
tend to produce health, harmony, or a sense
of well-being, because it does not harmonize
with the fundamental principle of our being.

With many people, old age is a perpetual
horror, which destroys comfort and happiness



WHY GROW OLD? 149

and makes life a tragedy, which, but for it,
might have been a perpetual joy.

Many wealthy people do not really enjoy
their possessions because of that awful con-
sciousness that they may at any moment be
forced to leave everything.

Discordant thought of every kind tends to
shorten life.

As long as you think old, hard, grasping,
envious thoughts, nothing in the world can
keep you from growing old. As long as you
harbor these enemies of youth, you cannot re-
main in a youthful condition. New thoughts
create new life ; old thoughts — canned, stereo-
typed thoughts — are injurious to growth, and
anything which stops growth helps the aging
processes.

Whatever thought dominates the mind at
any time is constantly modifying, changing
the life ideal, so that every suggestion that
comes into the mind from any source is
registered in the cell life, etched in the char-
acter, and outpictured in the expression and
appearance. If the ideal of continual youth,
of a body in a state of perpetual rejuvenation,
dominates the mind, it neutralizes the aging
processes. All of the body follows the dominat-
ing thought, motive and feeling, and takes on



ISO PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

its expression. For example, a man who is
constantly worrying, fretting, a victim of
fear, cannot possibly help outpicturing this
condition in his body. Nothing in the world
can counteract this hardening, aging, ossify-
ing process but a complete reversal of the
thought, so that the opposite ideas dominate.
The effect of the mind on the body is always
absolutely scientific. It follows an inexorable
law.

There is a power of health latent in every
cell of the body which would always keep
the cell in harmony and preserve its integrity
if the thought were right. This latent power
of health in the cell can be so developed by
right thinking and living as to retard very
materially the aging processes.

One of the most effective means of develop-
ing it is to keep cheerful and optimistic. As
long as the mind faces the sun of life it will
cast no shadow before it.

Hold ever before you, like a beacon light,
the youth ideal — strength, buoyancy, hopeful-
ness, expectancy. Hold persistently to the
thought that your body is the last two years'
product; that there may not be in it a single
cell more than a year and a half old ; that it is
constantly young because it is perpetually be-



WHY GROW OLD? 151

ing renewed and that, therefore, it ought to
look fresh and youthful.

Constantly say to yourself: "If Nature
makes me a new body every few months, com-
paratively, if the billions of tissue cells are
being perpetually renewed, if the oldest of
these cells are, perhaps, rarely, if ever, more
than two years old, why should they appear
to be sixty or seventy-five ? " A two-year-old
cell could not look like a seventy-year-old cell
of its own accord, but we know from experi-
ence that the old-age conviction can make
these youthful cells look very old. If the body
is always young, it should always look young ;
and it would if we did not make it look old
by stamping old age upon it. We Americans
seem very adept in putting the old-age stamp
upon new tissue cells. Yet it is just as easy to
form the youthful-thought habit as the old-
age-thought habit.

If you would keep young, you must learn
the secret of self-rejuvenation, self-refresh-
ment, self-renewal, in your thought, in your
work. Hard thoughts, too serious thoughts,
mental confusion, excitement, worry, anxiety,
jealousy, the indulgence of explosive passions,
all tend to shorten life.

You will find a wonderful rejuvenating



152 PEACE, PO\VER, AND PLENTY

power in the cultivation of faith in the im-
mortal Principle of health in every atom of
your being. We are all conscious that there
is something in us which is never sick and
which never dies, something which connects
us "with the Divine. There is a wonderful heal-
ing influence in holding the consciousness of
this great truth.

Some people are so constituted that they
perpetually renew themselves. They do not
seem to get tired or weary of their tasks, be-
cause their minds are constantly refreshing
themselves. They are self-lubricators, self-re-
newers. To keep from aging, we must keep
the picture of youth in all its beauty and glory
impressed upon the mind. It is impossible to
appear youthful, to be young, unless we feel
young.

Without realizing it, most people are using
the old-age thought as a chisel to cut a little
deeper the wrinkles. Their old-age thought is
stamping itself upon the new cells only a few
months old, so that they very soon look to be
forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years old.

Never allow yourself to think of yourself
as growing old. Constantly affirm, if you feel
yourself aging, " I am young because I am
perpetually being renewed ; my life comes new



WHY GROW OLD? 153

every moment from the Infinite Source of life.
I am new every morning and fresh every
evening because I live, move, and have my
being in Him who is the Source of all life."
Not only affirm this mentally, but verbally
when you can. Make this picture of perpetual
renewal, constant refreshment, re-creation, so
vivid, that you will feel the thrill of youthful
renewal through your entire system. Under
no circumstances allow the old-age thought
and suggestion to remain in the mind. Re-
member that it is what you feel, what you are
convinced of, that will be outpictured in your
body. If you think you are aging, if you walk,
talk, dress, and act like an old person, these
conditions will be outpictured in your expres-
sion, face, manner, and body generally.

Youthful thought should be a life habit.

Cling to the thought that the truth of your
being can never age, because it is Divine Prin-
ciple. Picture the cells of the body being con-
stantly made over. Hold this perpetual-re-
newal picture in your mind, and the old-age
thought, the old-age conviction will become
inoperative.

The new youth-thought habit will drive out
the old-age-thought habit. If you can only feel
your whole body being perpetually made over,



154 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

constantly renewed, you will keep the body
young, fresh.

There is a tremendous youth - retaining
power in holding high ideals and lofty senti-
ments. The spirit cannot grow old while one
is constantly aspiring to something better,
higher, nobler. Employment which develops
the higher self ; the frequent dwelHng upon
lofty themes and high purposes — all are
powerful preservatives of youth. It is senility
of the soul that makes people old.

The living of life should be a perpetual joy.
Youth and joy are synonymous. If we do not
enjoy life, if we do not feel that it is a de-
light to be alive, if we do not look upon our
work as a grand privilege, we shall age pre-
maturely.

Live always in a happy mental attitude.
Live in the ideal, and the aging processes
cannot get hold of you. It is the ideal that
keeps one young. When we think of age, we
think of weakness, decrepitude, imperfection;
we do not think of wholeness, vigor. Every
time you think of yourself make a vivid men-
tal picture of your ideal self as the very pic-
ture of youth, of health and vigor. Think
health. Feel the spirit of youth and hope surg-
ing through your body. Form the most per-



- WHY GROW OLD? 155

feet picture of physical manhood or woman-
hood that is possible to the human mind.

The elixir of youth which alchemists sought
so long in chemicals, we find lies in ourselves.
The secret is in our own mentality. Perpetual
rejuvenation is possible only by right think-
ing. We look as old as we think and feel be-
cause it is thought and feeling that change
our appearance.

Let us put beauty into our lives by thinking
beautiful thoughts, building beautiful ideals,
and picturing beautiful things in our imagina-
tion.

I know of no remedy for old-age conditions
so powerful as love — love for our work, love
for our fellow-men, love for everything.

It is the most powerful life-renewer, re-
freshener, re-creator, known. Love awakens
the noblest sentiments, the finest sensibilities,
the most exquisite qualities in man.

Try to find and live in the soul of things,
to see the best in everybody. When you think
of a person, hold in your mind the ideal of that
person — that which God meant him to be —
not the deformed, weak, ignorant creature
which vice and wrong living may have made.
This habit of refusing to see anything but the
ideal will not only be a wonderful help to



156 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

others, but also to yourself. Refuse to see
deformity or weakness anywhere, but hold per-
sistently your highest ideals. Other things be-
ing equal, it is the cleanest, purest mind that
lives longest.

Harmony, peace, and serenity are absolutely
necessary to perpetuate youthful conditions.
All discord, all unbalanced mental operations,
tend to produce aging conditions. The con-
templation of the eternal verities enriches the
ideals and freshens life because it destroys
fear, uncertainty, and worry by adding assur-
ance and certainty to life.

Old-age conditions can only exist in cells
which have become deteriorated and hardened
by wrong thinking and vicious living. Unre-
strained passion or fits of temper burn out the
cells very rapidly.

People who are very useful, who are doing
their work grandly, growing vigorously, re-
tain their youthful appearance. We can form
the habit of staying young just as well as the
habit of growing old.

Increasing power and wisdom ought to be
the only sign of our long continuance on this
earth. We ought to do our best work after
fifty, or even after sixty or seventy ; and if the
brain is kept active, fresh, and young, and the



WHY GROW OLD? 157

brain cells are not ruined by too serious a life,
by worry, fear, selfishness, or disease, the
mind will constantly increase in vigor and
power.

If we are convinced that the life processes
can perpetuate youth instead of age, they will
obey the command. The fact that man's sin,
his ignorance of true living, made the three-
score years, with the possible addition of ten
more, the average limit of life centuries ago,
is no reason why any one in this man-emanci-
pating age should narrow himself to this limit.

An all-wise and benevolent Creator could
not make us with such a great yearning for
long life, a longing to remain young, with-
out any possibility of realizing it. The very
fact of this universal protest in all human be-
ings against the enormous disproportion be-
tween the magnitude of our mission upon earth
and the shortness of the time and the meagre-
ness of the opportunities for carrying it out ;
the universal yearning for longevity ; and all
analogy in the animal kingdom, all point to
the fact that man was not only intended for a
much longer life, but also for a much greater
freedom from the present old-age weaknesses
and handicaps.

There is not the slightest indication in the



158 PEACE, POWER, AND PLENTY

marvellous mechanism of man that he was
intended to become weak, crippled, and use-
less after a comparatively few years. Instead,
all the indications are toward progress into a
larger, completer, fuller manhood, greater
power. A dwarfed, weak, useless man was
never in the Creator's plan. Retrogression is
contrary to all principle and law. Progress,
perpetual enlargement, growth, are the truth
of man. The Creator never made anything for
retrogression ; it is contrary to the very nature
of Deity. '' Onward and upward " is written
upon every atom in the universe. Imagine the
Creator fashioning a man in his own likeness
for only a few years of activity and growth,
and then — retrogression, crippled helplessness !
There is nothing of God in this picture. What-
ever the Deity makes bears the stamp of per-
petual progress, everlasting growth. There is
no going backward in his plans, everything
moves forward to one eternal divine purpose.
A decrepit, helpless old man or woman is a


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Online LibraryOrison Swett MardenPeace, power, and plenty → online text (page 7 of 14)