Laugh and Live
Part 1 out of 2
Produced by Steven desJardins and Distributed Proofreaders.
[ILLUSTRATION: _Laugh and Live_]
Laugh and Live
By DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS
BRITTON PUBLISHING COMPANY
TO MY MOTHER
I. "Whistle and Hoe--Sing As We Go"
II. Taking Stock of Ourselves
III. Advantages of an Early Start
IV. Profiting by Experience
V. Energy, Success and Laughter
VI. Building Up a Personality
VII. Honesty, the Character Builder
VIII. Cleanliness of Body and Mind
IX. Consideration for Others
X. Keeping Ourselves Democratic
XI. Self-Education by Good Reading
XII. Physical and Mental Preparedness
XIII. Self-indulgence and Failure
XIV. Living Beyond Our Means
XV. Initiative and Self-Reliance
XVI. Failure to Seize Opportunities
XVII. Assuming Responsibilities
XVIII. Wedlock in Time
XIX. Laugh and Live
XX. A "Close-Up" of Douglas Fairbanks
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Laugh and Live
Do You Ever Laugh?
Over the Hedge and on His Way
Preparing to Pair With the Prickly Pear
A Little Spin Among the Saplings
Over the Hills and Far Away--Father and Son
A Scene from "His Picture in the Papers"
A Scene from "The Americano"--Matching Wits for Gold
Taking on Local Color
A Scene from "His Picture in the Papers"
Douglas Fairbanks in "The Good Bad-Man"
Squaring Things With Sister--From "The Habit of Happiness"
A Scene from "In Again--Out Again"
Bungalowing in California
Demonstrating the Monk and the Hand-Organ to a Body of Psychologists
"Wedlock in Time"--The Fairbanks' Family
LIVE AND LAUGH
"WHISTLE AND HOE--SING AS WE GO"
There is one thing in this good old world that is positively
sure--happiness is for _all_ who _strive_ to _be_ happy--and those who
laugh _are_ happy.
Everybody is eligible--you--me--the other fellow.
Happiness is fundamentally a state of mind--not a state of body.
And mind controls.
Indeed it is possible to stand with one foot on the inevitable "banana
peel" of life with both eyes peering into the Great Beyond, and still be
happy, comfortable, and serene--if we will even so much as smile.
It's all a state of mind, I tell you--and I'm sure of what I say. That's
why I have taken up my fountain pen. I want to talk to my friends--you
hosts of people who have written to me for my recipe. In moving pictures
all I can do is act my part and grin for you. What I say is a matter of
your own inference, but with my pen I have a means of getting around the
"silent drama" which prevents us from organizing a "close-up" with one
In starting I'm going to ask you "foolish question number 1."--
Do you ever laugh?
I mean do you ever laugh right out--spontaneously--just as if the police
weren't listening with drawn clubs and a finger on the button connecting
with the "hurry-up" wagon? Well, if you don't, you should. _Start off
the morning with a laugh and you needn't worry about the rest of the
I like to laugh. It is a tonic. It braces me up--makes me feel
fine!--and keeps me in prime mental condition. Laughter is a
physiological necessity. The nerve system requires it. The deep,
forceful chest movement in itself sets the blood to racing thereby
livening up the circulation--which is good for us. Perhaps you hadn't
thought of that? Perhaps you didn't realize that laughing automatically
re-oxygenates the blood--_your_ blood--and keeps it red? It does all of
that, and besides, it relieves the tension from your brain.
_Laughter is more or less a habit._ To some it comes only with practice.
But what's to hinder practising? Laugh and live long--if you had a
thought of dying--laugh and grow well--if you're sick and
despondent--laugh and grow fat--if your tendency is towards the lean and
cadaverous--laugh and succeed--if you're glum and "unlucky"--laugh and
nothing can faze you--not even the Grim Reaper--for the man who has
laughed his way through life has nothing to fear of the future. His
conscience is clear.
Wherein lies this magic of laughter? For magic it is--a something that
manufactures a state of felicity out of any condition. We've got to
admit its charm; automatically and inevitably a laugh cheers us up. If
we are bored--nothing to do--just laugh--that's something to do, for
laughter is synonymous with action, and action dispels gloom, care,
trouble, worry and all else of the same ilk.
Real laughter is spontaneous. Like water from the spring it bubbles
forth a creation of mingled action and spontaneity--two magic potions in
themselves--the very essence of laughter--the unrestrained emotion
So, for me, it is to laugh! Why not stick along? The experiment won't
hurt you. All we need is will power, and that is a personal matter for
each individual to seek and acquire for himself. Many of us already
possess it, but many of us do not.
Take the average man on the street for example. Watch him go plodding
along--no spring, no elasticity, no vim. He is in _check-rein_--how can
he laugh when his _pep_ is all gone and the _sand in his craw_ isn't
there any more? What he needs is _spirit_! Energy--the power to force
himself into action! For him there is no hope unless he will take up
physical training in some form that will put him in normal physical
condition--after that everything simplifies itself. The brain responds
to the new blood in circulation and thus the mental processes are ready
to make a fight against the inertia of stagnation which has held them in
[Illustration: _Do You Ever Laugh?_ (_White Studio_)]
And, mind you, physical training doesn't necessarily mean going to an
expert for advice. One doesn't have to make a mountain out of a
molehill. Get out in the fresh air and walk briskly--and don't forget to
wear a smile while you're at it. Don't over-do. Take it easy at first
and build on your effort day by day. A little this morning--a little
more tonight. The first chance you have, when you're sure of your wind
and heart, get out upon the country road, or cross-country hill and
dale. Then run, run, run, until you drop exhausted upon some grassy
bank. Then laugh, loud and long, for you're on the road to happiness.
Try it now--don't wait. _Today is the day to begin._ Or, if it is night
when you run across these lines, drop this book and trot yourself
around the block a few times. Then come back and you'll enjoy it more
than you would otherwise. Activity makes for happiness as nothing else
will and once you stir your blood into little bubbles of energy you will
begin to think of other means of keeping your bodily house in order.
Unless you make a first effort the chances are you will do very little
real thinking of any kind--_we need pep to think_.
Think what an opportunity we miss when stripped at night if we fail to
give our bodies a round of exercise. It is so simple, so easy, and has
so much to do with our sleep each night and our work next day that to
neglect to do so is a crime against nature. And laugh! Man alive, if you
are not in the habit of laughing, _get the habit_. Never miss a chance
to laugh aloud. Smiling is better than nothing, and a chuckle is better
still--but _out and out laughter_ is the real thing. Try it now if you
dare! And when you've done it, analyze your feelings.
I make this prediction--if you once start the habit of exercise, and
couple with it the habit of laughter, even if only for one short
week--you'll keep it up ever afterwards.
And, by the way, Friend Reader,--don't be alarmed. The personal pronouns
"_I_" and "_you_" give place in succeeding chapters to the more
congenial editorial "_we_." I couldn't resist the temptation to enjoy
one brief spell of intimacy just for the sake of good acquaintance.
_Have a laugh on me._
TAKING STOCK OF OURSELVES
Experience is the real teacher, but the matter of how we are going to
succeed in life should not be left to ordinary chance while we are
waiting for things to happen. Our first duty is to prepare ourselves
against untoward experiences, and that is best done by taking stock of
our mental and physical assets at the very outset of our journey. What
weaknesses we possess are excess baggage to be thrown away and that is
our reason for taking stock so early. It is likely to save us from
riding to a fall.
There is one thing we don't want along--_fear_. We will never get
anywhere with that, nor with any of its uncles, aunts or cousins--_Envy,
Malice and Greed_. In justice to our own best interests we should search
every crook and cranny of our hearts and minds lest we venture forth
with any such impedimenta. There is no excuse, and we have no one to
blame if we allow any of them to journey along with us. We know whether
they are there or not just as we would know _Courage, Trust and Honor_
were they perched behind us on the saddle.
It is idle to squeal if through association with the former we find
ourselves ditched before we are well under way--for it is coming to us,
sooner or later. We might go _far_, as some have done, through the lanes
and alleys of ill-gotten gains and luxurious self-indulgence, but we
would pay in the end. So, why not charge them up to "profit and loss" at
the start and kick them off into the gutter where they belong? They are
not for us on our eventful journey through life, and the time to get rid
of them once and for all is when we are young, and mentally and
physically vigorous. Later on when the fires burn low and we still have
them with us they will be hard to push aside.
"To thine own self be true," says the great Shakespeare and how can we
be true to our own selves if we train with inferiors? We are known by
our companionships. We will be rated according to association--good or
bad. The two will not mix for long and we will be one sort of a fellow
or the other. We can't be both.
There was a time, long years ago, in the days of our grandfathers, when
men went to the "bow-wows" and, later on, "came back" as it were, by
making a partial success in life--measured largely by the money they
succeeded in accumulating. That was before the "check-up" system was
invented. Today things are different. Questions are asked--"Where were
you last?"--"Why did you leave there?"--"Have you credentials?"--and
when we shake our weary head and walk away, we fondly wish we had "taken
stock" back there when the "taking" was good.
"To thine own self be true; and it must follow as the night the
day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
When we can analyze ourselves and find that we are living up to the
quoted lines above we may safely lift the limit from our aspirations.
Right here it is well to say that success is not to be computed in
dollars and cents, nor that the will to achieve a successful life is to
be predicated upon the mere accumulation of wealth. First of all, good
health and good minds--then we may laugh loud and long--we're safe on
So, with these two weapons we may dig down into our aspirations, and,
keeping in view that our policy is that of honesty to ourselves and
toward our fellow man, all we need to do is to go about the program of
life cheerfully and stout of heart--_for now we are in a state of
We are at the point where vision starts. Along with this vision must
come the courage of convictions in order that we may feel that our ideas
are important, and because we have such thoughts, _we shall surely
succeed_. It has often been noticed that when we have had a large
conception and have with force, character, and strength of will carried
it into effect, immediately thereafter a host of people have been able
to say: "I thought of that myself!" Most of us have had the same
experience after reading of a great discovery that we had thrown
overboard because it must not have been "worth while" or someone else
would already have thought of it.
The man who puts life into an idea is acclaimed a genius, because he
does _the right thing at the right time_. Therein lies the difference
between the _genius_ and a _commonplace_ man.
We all have ambitions, but only the few achieve. A man thinks of a good
thing and says: "Now if I only had the money I'd put that through." The
word "if" was a dent in his courage. With character fully established,
his plan well thought out, he had only to go to those in command of
capital and it would have been forthcoming. He had something that
capital would cheerfully get behind if he had the courage to back up his
claims. To fail was nothing less than moral cowardice. _The will to do_
had not been efficient. There was a flaw in the character, after all.
Going back, therefore, to the prescription, we find that a _sound
body_, a _good mind_, an _honest purpose_, and a _lack of fear_ are the
essential elements of success. So, when we have conceived something for
the good of the world and have allowed it to go by default we have
dropped the monkey-wrench into the machinery of our preparedness. We
must look about us for a reason. Have we fallen by the wayside of
carelessness? Have we allowed ourselves to be discouraged by cowardly
"ifs"? _Did we lack the sand_? Exactly so; we didn't have the courage of
Life is the one great experience, and those who fail to win, if sound of
body, can safely lay the blame to their lack of mental equipment. What
does it matter if disappointments follow one after the other if we can
_laugh and try again_? Failures must come to all of us in some degree,
but we may rise from our failures and win back our losses if we are only
shrewd enough to realize that good health, sound mind, and a cheerful
spirit are necessary adjuncts. As Tennyson says:
"I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things."
All truly great men have been healthy--otherwise they would have fallen
short of the mark. Prisons are filled with nervous, diseased creatures.
There is no doubt but that most of these who, through ignorance, sifted
through to the bottomless pits could have saved themselves had they
realized the truth and "taken stock" of themselves, _in time_--of
course, allowing for those, who are victims of circumstantial evidence.
The prime necessity of life is health. With this, for mankind, nothing
is impossible. But if we do not make use of this good health it will
waste itself away and never come back. It often disappears entirely for
lack of interest on the part of its thoughtless owner. A little energy
would have saved the day. _A little "pep"--and we laugh and live._
Laughter clings to good health as naturally as the needle clings to the
magnet. It is the outward expression of an unburdened soul. It bubbles
forth as a fountain, always refreshing, always wholesome and sweet.
[Illustration: _Over the Hedge and on His Way_]
In taking stock of ourselves we should not forget that fear plays a
large part in the drama of failure. That is the first thing to be
dropped. Fear is a mental deficiency susceptible of correction, if taken
in hand before it gains an ascendency over us. Fear comes with the
thought of failure. Everything we think about should have the
possibility of success in it if we are going to build up courage. We
should get into the habit of reading _inspirational books_, looking at
_inspirational pictures_, hearing _inspirational music_, associating
with _inspirational friends_ and above all, we should cultivate the
habit of mind of thinking clean, and of doing, wholesome things.
"Guard thyself!" That is the slogan. Let us "take stock" often and see
where we stand. We will not be afraid of the weak points. We will _get
after them_ and get hold of ourselves at the same time. Some book might
give us help--a fine play, or some form of athletics will start us to
thinking. Self-analysis teaches us to see ourselves in a true light
without embellishments or undue optimism. We can gauge our chances in no
better way. If we grope in the darkness we haven't much of a chance.
"Taking stock" throws a searchlight on the dark spots and points the way
out of the danger zone.
ADVANTAGES OF AN EARLY START
It is the young man who has the best chance of winning. Then why
shouldn't youthfulness be made a permanent asset? We have recovered from
the idea of putting a man into a sanatorium just because a few grey
hairs show themselves in his head. We should not ask him how old he is
... we should ask: "_What can he do_?" The young man may have the
advantage of years but the older one has the advantage of experience and
knowledge. Now if this older man could carry along with him that spirit
of youth which actuated his earlier activities he would be prepared
against incapacity. Our fate hangs on how we conduct ourselves in youth.
The world has great need of the sober, thoughtful men _above the fifty
line_. By right of experience and knowledge they should become our
leaders in the shaping of our policies. It is all a matter of how a man
comes through, mentally, physically and spiritually. Age should not
count against him.
The first thought is to keep healthy. In fact, we cannot harp on this
too much. The second requirement is confidence in ourselves, without
which our career is short lived.
Already we perceive that one must keep track of his _inner self_. This
breeds confidence. The very fact that one stops to probe into that
hidden land of thought shows that he is keeping tab on himself with a
sharp eye. That's the stuff! _We mustn't fool ourselves._ The majority
of failures come as a result of not being able to trust one's self. The
moment we doubt, or acknowledge that we cannot conquer a weakness, then
we begin to go down hill. It is a subtle process. We hardly realize it
at the time but as the days go by, the years roll on, the final day of
reckoning draws near and relentlessly we are swept along as driftwood
toward the lonely beaches of obscurity. And all because _we lacked
self-confidence_! We did not realize it until it was too late. We were
too busy with self-indulgence to struggle for success.
Most of our troubles in later life started with _failure to take hold of
ourselves_ when we were young. It may be that we put off making our
choice of something to do. If we had been companionable to ourselves we
might have thought out the proper course while taking long walks in
pursuit of physical development. That would have been a _fine_ time in
which to fight out the whole problem--the time when optimism and _the
will to do_ are as natural as the laughter of a child, or the song of a
bird. That was the time when the world appeared roseate and beautiful,
when success lay just beyond the turn of the road, when failure seemed
something illusory and improbable. Then was the time to jump in with
both feet and _a big hearty laugh_ to solve the problem of what to do
and how to go about it. It is surprising how readily the world follows
the individual with confidence. It is willing to believe in him, to
furnish funds, to assist in any way within its power. And that is where
the man _with a smile_ is sure to win--for the man who smiles has
confidence in himself.
So long as we carry along with us our atmosphere of hearty good will and
enthusiasm we know no defeat. The man who is gloomy, taciturn and lives
in a world of doubt seldom achieves more than a bare living. There have
been a few who have groaned their way through to a competence but in
proportion to that overwhelming number of souls who carry cheer through
life they are as nothing--mere drops in the bucket. If the truth were
told their success came probably through mere chance and nothing else.
Such people are not the ones for us to endeavor to follow. _We cannot
afford to allow our visions to sour._
Beginning early takes away timidity and builds for success while we are
young enough to enjoy the benefits. Although it is never too late to
start a cheerful life we don't have to kill ourselves in the attempt.
There is no necessity for throwing all caution to the winds, but we
should press our advantages. With _self-analysis_ comes a certain
poise, a certain dignity and kindliness that tempers every move with
Once we get the proper start we have only to take stock now and then in
order to keep our machinery in a fine state of repair. If we have chosen
wisely we love our work and stick to it closely--not forgetting the home
duties and our share in its success. Right here we run up against the
danger signal if our business success wins us away from the hearthstone.
_Love of home_ is a quality of the workers of the earth. "What doth it
profit a man to win the whole world if he _loseth_ his own soul?"
To sum up the case--once we have made up our minds to win and how we are
going to do it, the next step is to act. _Health is synonymous with
action._ The healthy man does things, the unhealthy man hesitates. And
when we get ready to act we will act with the air of a conqueror. We
must supply from our own store our atmosphere of confidence in order to
win confidence. The successful man is the one who _knows he is right_
and makes us realize it.
It is always worth while to study the successes among our
acquaintances. Are they gloomy, morose and irritable? If they were to
that extent they would not be successful. On the contrary, they are
robust, confident individuals who have taken advantage of every rightful
opportunity and possessed _the power to smile_ when all about them were
in the dumps. When everyone else thought that there wasn't a chance to
win these fellows stepped in and took charge.
When we interview the failures we find that all of them give one excuse:
"_I didn't have the confidence._" They may not say it in exactly these
words but the meaning is plain. They ran through the whole gamut of
_self-distrust_ which is the natural result of not having started early
in the study of self--the serious realization of their own capabilities.
[Illustration: _Preparing to Pair With the Prickly Pear_]
This makes it easy to understand their plight. If we know ourselves we
are strengthened that much, because we can bolster up our weaknesses. We
will know enough to combat timidity. We can then know what we are
capable of, and thus become conscious of our innate powers that only
need to be called into action in order to become useful. We cannot
imagine for an instant a great violinist going out on the concert
platform in ignorance of the condition of his instrument. And yet
failures go out on the stage of life knowing nothing of their strengths
and weaknesses--_and still expect to win_!
If we are to become successes we must _keep success in mind_--banish all
thought of losing. Success is just as natural as anything else. It is
only a matter of the mind anyhow. We are all successes _as long as we
continue to think so_. Self-depreciation is a disease. Once it gets a
hold on us--good-bye!
And that is why it is wise to begin early--to take hold of affairs while
we are young. Superiority over our fellow man comes from a superiority
of mind and body. A healthy mind breeds a healthy body. The most
superficial study will convince us of this fact.
Appearance counts for much in this world. We judge largely by
appearances. We haven't time to know everyone we meet intimately and as
a result must base our opinions upon _first impressions_. The fellow who
comes in an office with his head hanging down between his shoulders and
a frown upon his face doesn't get far with us. We find ourselves looking
over his sagging shoulders toward the individual behind him who comes in
with a swinging step and the confidence born of health and good spirits.
Self-confidence in youth makes for self-confidence in after years. This
is far from meaning that one can be brazen and inclined towards
freshness and get away with it. It merely means the marshalling of one's
forces, _the command of one's self_ and the ability to make others
recognize that we are on the map because we belong there. And one of the
quickest ways to accomplish this is to have a smile tucked away for
instant use. Again, this does not mean that we are to carry round a
ready-to-wear grin which we wear only as we are ushered into the
presence of another. _A real smile, or a hearty laugh, is not to be
counterfeited._ We easily know the genuine from the spurious. A real
laugh springs naturally out of a pure, unadulterated confidence and a
good physical condition. What triumphs, what splendid battles, have been
won through the ability to laugh at the right moment.
Whenever we find that we are losing our ability to smile let's have no
false notions. We are neglecting our physical well being. Let us then
and there drop the sombre thoughts and get out into the open air. Run
down the street and if possible out into the country. If we see a tree
and have the inclination to climb it--well, then, climb it. If we are
sensitive about what our neighbors might say--too bad! But we can romp
with easy grace. If we but knew how gladly our neighbors would emulate
our gymnastics if they knew the value of them the laugh would be on us
for dreading their opinion. One thing we do know--_they will envy us our
good health and spirits_.
PROFITING BY EXPERIENCE
_Experience comes by contact._ There is no way we can have experiences
without passing directly through them. If we are up and doing they come
thick and fast into our lives, some of them weighted down by the
peculiar twists and turns of circumstances, others simple, easily
understood, and still others complicated to the point of not being
understood at all.
People are divided into two classes--_those who profit by experience and
those who do not_. The unfortunate part of it all is that the latter
class is by far the larger of the two.
The man of vigorous purpose, fine constitution, and the full knowledge
of self, sees through an experience as clearly as through a window. The
glass may be foggy, but he knows what lies beyond. Self-reliant and
strong he seeks knowledge through experience, while the weak man, the
unhealthy-minded, the inefficient, stands aside and gives him the right
of way. In later years, however, they bitterly complain that they were
not given the same chance to succeed.
The man of experience having long since passed through the stages of
indecision has, through careful self-analysis learned to bridge
difficulties that would make others tremble with fear. He knows that
every lane has a turning. He may not see it at the moment. He may not
know where it is. _But that doesn't worry him._ He picks up his bundle
and trudges ahead, confident that victory awaits him somewhere along the
The fact that he believes in himself, sets him apart from ordinary
mankind. Many great men have been at loss to understand why they
attained success. It is well nigh impossible for them to outline the
causes that led them to the top rungs of the ladder. The reason is that
_their lack of fear_ of experiences was an unconscious one, rather than
a conscious one. However, they are willing to admit that acting on the
principle of profiting by experience _loaned them initiative_ with which
to proceed. They soon came to know opportunity at sight and had only to
look around to find it.
The young man standing on the threshold of life is, from lack of
experience, puzzled over the future. He looks above him and sees the
towering successes. He reads in the papers of the massive characters who
have risen from the bottom to the top. Naturally he would like to meet
one of these giants of success and hear what he has to say. The
interview is quite needless. "_Get busy and profit by experience_," is
about all the advice one man can give to another. There is no way to
profit by experience until we have had experience so there is nothing to
do but get busy and experience will come as fast as we can absorb it.
Our duty is to strive for success and not expect to attain it except by
successive steps. A wholesale consignment would be our undoing. Quick
successes through luck or good fortune have not the lasting value of
those won by virtue of knowing how--of accomplishing what we started
out to do.
Faith in one's self does not come from the outside--it must spring up
naturally _from within_. A healthy body and a sane mind are the best
foundations for this. The young man who begins his career with these
facts in mind is given a running start over his competitors. Poverty and
failure are the result of _an ignorance of the value of experience_.
Worry, anxiety, fear of not doing the right thing, lack of insight into
character ... these, too, are the result of a lack of experience.
Good health is necessary to experience, but a majority neglect to take
care of it. If we are to profit by what we learn we _must have the vim_
with which to push forward. We must have every ounce of vitality we
possess at command--ready for use. This we conserve for the _big
emergency_ which we know is coming. New experiences are pushing us
forward and previous experiences are helping to move the load.
Experience tells us what to do at this point and that--and at last puts
its shoulder to the wheel and "_over she goes_!"
Every mind is in possession of an enormous amount of dormant power and
only experience can release it into proper action. We often hear a fond
mother say that her son is full to bursting with the _old nick_, which
means that the youngster is overflowing with _pent-up energy_. With
experience he could find good use for it--but without it this surplus
may turn out to be a dangerous possession. Young men of this type should
be guarded most carefully and advised to "get busy" _early in life_ at
something worth while. Many a bright fellow brimming with excess power
has gone as a lamb to the slaughter into the maelstrom of vice because
of being held back from _legitimate occupation_. He just had to blow off
steam so he did it in a gin mill rather than a rolling mill.
This dynamo called the mind can be trained to do anything. Not only can
it be guided at the start but it can be guided by all that follows. It
can be used for building additional dynamos to be called into action in
times of need. This statement may seem at first far-fetched. If we think
so it is proof that we have not _profited by our experiences_ and should
get down to "stock taking" before it is too late.
The practical man, after all, is only _one who takes advantage of
opportunities_. He could double and triple his power if he only realized
how superficial the average setback really is. The young man has just as
much chance of being considered practical as the so-called older one,
always provided that he has a store of experiences to profit by. The
first _big experience_ of life usually makes or breaks us. For this
experience we need to be prepared. We must have a _strong heart_ that we
may bear defeat nobly from this is not to be our last kick--our last
breath--_not by a jugful_!
We are going to start all over again after our setback and we are not
going to wait any longer than it takes to bury the dead. This will be
done decently and in good order--our training will admit of no
indecorum. If the smash was a bad one we will assume the liability,
nevertheless, and get back on the job. We are out to win and
_eventually we will win_.
And that is what we mean by taking profit from experience. _The powers
that break down are also the powers that build up._ The electrician who
handles the motor could just as well end his own existence by that
mysterious current as he could make use of it for the good of humanity.
He spends years of conscientious study and masters the knowledge of it
so that its uses are as simple as his A B C's. There is no doubt in the
world but that he had to learn by experience. He had to go into the shop
and _climb up from the bottom_. There was no other way by which he could
come to know how to turn a deadly force into a well-trained necessity.
Yet the average man goes into life with as little knowledge of its
forces as the baby who puts its foot upon the third rail. That fact
keeps the thoughtless man down until experience comes to the rescue.
When it does come, _if he has the sand, the common sense, the will to
do_, there is naught to hold him away from his goal.
ENERGY, SUCCESS AND LAUGHTER
There are many essentials to success, but there is one that is of such
importance that without it all the others become as naught. The man who
wins success is invariably impelled to do the great work allotted him by
_something within_ that tells him _he can_. He may not know exactly what
it is, but he knows he possesses it and is able to _act on that faith_,
accomplishing things which seem utterly impossible to other people. This
_inner determination_, once firmly implanted in one's nature, cannot be
destroyed or conquered. And this element is _energy_--energy of mind,
which rules the body. But where does this come from? How do the great
minds generate this glorious means of self-propulsion? The answer is
that _in a healthy body it is inherent_ from birth, and proper care of
the body therefore accentuates within their minds the will to do.
If the preceding chapters have been carefully read we may readily
believe that the successful youth must start with a wholesome, generous
viewpoint, a good constitution, and a clean mind. We have had an inkling
by this time of what one must do to achieve success in a world where
competition is keen. We are beginning to realize that these matters are
of vital importance and that we are face to face with a problem.
Energy is the natural outpouring of a healthy body. It must be directed,
it must be controlled, the same as any other living force. Not only is
it a positive necessity to the winner, but it must grow and become _a
natural quality_. It does not stand after years of abuse. It does not
spring up in the night after a long season of neglect and ill-health.
All of us possess it in varying ways. That fact ought to convince us
that we can get hold of ourselves and build up that which nature has
given us, rather than allow it to die away. We all have a certain amount
of energy ... _why shouldn't we all be successes_? We might to a
certain extent, but that doesn't mean that we shall all get rich in the
money sense of the world.
When we say: "Why shouldn't we all be successes?" we do not mean that
everybody in the world must be greedy for money, nor for power and
position. It does not mean that we should be selfish and eager to take
everything away from the other fellow. On the contrary, it means that,
with energy, we shall be successful _according to our brain tendency_.
Going back to our second chapter we find the phrase "taking stock" of
ourselves. Done rightly that alone will inspire success. Now if we are a
little farther along on the way towards sane living and the _ability to
laugh_ and we know that after this struggle is over the battle is won we
must use the powers that self-analysis gives us--_to fight_. The mere
recognition of them is power and we must not let them go to waste.
Energy is like steam--it cannot be generated under the boiling point. In
other words, _half-heartedness_ never produced it nor made it a
practical working tool. We must be energetic in order to augment
energy. We must have confidence along with it ... the more the merrier.
The greater the confidence in ourselves the greater the energy which
brought it about. Some minds naturally feel confident. These are the
lucky ones, the slender few who have grasped life's meaning at the start
by "_taking stock_" before they were threatened with defeat. Success
comes to them as easily as rolling off the proverbial log. They come
sweeping along, conquering, sure of themselves, confident, aspiring,
true to their inner selves, ready for work, unafraid of experiences, and
_sure of a smile when the clouds are darkest_.
This does not mean that these successes have exceptional ability. If
that were the case we would not waste time either in reading or writing
about the matter. If we didn't feel that we were potentially able to
become successes and possessed the elements of victory in our present
make-up not another moment would be spent on the subject. The very
simplicity of this use of energy proves to us that it is a quality
bubbling forth _in the least of us_ and the strongest. It only needs to
be put to work and it becomes self-strengthening. _Living in the open
air, sleeping out of doors, taking the proper exercise, looking
wholesomely upon life, believing in ourselves_, are all parts of the
sane existence which leads to success and laughter.
We ought to feel that everything in life possesses elements akin to
human feeling. We should not arrogate to ourselves the sole right to
rule and reason. And what has this to do with energy? It is only one of
the many vistas that open to us when we learn how to laugh and live. And
man alive! _If we never learn to laugh we will never learn to live._
We must not forget that there can be more than one use made of energy.
In the same way that electricity might be misused so might energy be
placed in the wrong service. We must not waste any time, therefore, in
getting this energy of ours worked into _enthusiasm_ ... enthusiasm for
our life work, for our fellow man, _for the zest of life_. We must
throw ourselves into the battle and carry the standard. We must leap to
the front, not waiting for the other fellow to show the way. Spend your
enthusiasm freely and be surprised at how it thrives on usage.
Enthusiasm being produced by energy must of a necessity depend largely
upon that. Now the point is, how shall we guard and keep fresh this
element in ourselves? We know that the body is producing this quality.
Like the steam engine we are keeping the fires going by exercise,
wholesome thinking and sincerity of purpose. We are the engineers. Our
hand is on the throttle. Sharp turns lie ahead but our eyes look forward
fearlessly. We glance about us to see that we are in the pink of
condition. We know that our mind is functioning properly and that the
awakened confidence is already inherent in our natures and stands beside
us night and day like the officer upon the bridge of the ship. _Indeed
we are on our way!_
[Illustration: _A Little Spin Among the Saplings_]
Out of energy and enthusiasm comes something else that must not be
neglected ... in fact it must be cultivated and guarded from the very
beginning ... _laughter_. The mere possession of energy and enthusiasm
makes us feel like laughing. We want to leap and jump and dance and
sing. If we feel like that don't let us be afraid to do it. _Get out in
the air and run like a school boy. Jump ditches, vault fences, swing the
arms!_ Never fail to get next to nature when responsive to the call.
Indeed we may woo this call from within ourselves until it comes to be
second nature. And when we rise in the morning let us be determined that
we will start the day with a hearty laugh anyhow. Laugh because you are
alive, laugh with everything. _Let yourself go._ That is the secret--the
ability to let one's self go!
If we follow this religiously we will be surprised how successful the
day will be. Everything gives way before it.
BUILDING UP A PERSONALITY
More and more personality is coming into its own as man's greatest
asset. There was never a day when it was not, but in former years this
essential quality was not listed under the name ... _personality_. Had
we lived in the days of our fathers' youth we would have heard about
"remarkable men," "men of big caliber," "large character," "splendid
presence," and the like. But it remained for our day and generation to
discover the real word--_personality_--meaning the _most perfect
combination possible of man's highest attributes_. At least that would
be the definition in its fullest sense.
Of course everyone has a certain personality and, no matter in what
degree, its possession is valuable. Personality is an acorn, so to
speak, which may be cultivated into a sturdy oak. Personality is one's
_inner self outwardly expressed_. It represents the conquest of our
weaknesses and naturally impresses our strength of character upon
With personality our foundation is firm. On this pedestal we may stand
squarely and face life with equanimity. For such there is no end to
achievement while good health and youthful spirit remain.
It is impossible to come into the presence of a personality without
becoming immediately aware of it. It is reflected by people of _small
stature ... poor physiques ... homely visages_, as well as men of the
highest physical development. The great Napoleon was just above five
feet while Lincoln towered over the six-foot line. Men of personality
are the last to say die. Their store of _combativeness_ carries them
beyond their real span of existence either in years or achievement.
Thus, the mind shows its mastery over matter. Alexander Pope was still
writing while propped upon the pillows of his death bed. Mark Twain
joked with friends when he knew his hour was at hand.
_Personality is magnetic._ It can charm the friend or put fear into the
heart of the enemy. Joan of Arc, a frail woman, won battles at the head
of her troops. History is filled with incidents where men of personality
have turned defeat into victory by leading their soldiers back into the
Wholesome personality is the fulfillment of
self-development--physically, mentally and spiritually. But all
personality is not wholesome for it often shows in the face of the man
_who is a rogue at heart_. Therefore, all personality is not for the
good of the world. It is only of the wholesome kind that we speak. To
such as possess it the goal is divine. Personality could never be
perfected without living a _life of preparedness_ backed up by our most
earnest and honest convictions. Personality is made up of many qualities
and differs in man only as man is different from his brother man.
Perfect personality requires constant care in its development and
constant guard for its safety. It cannot be purchased in the open
market. It must be built upon piece by piece and everything we are
becomes a part of it.
Personality would be indeed imperfect if it did not give us _full
poise_. If we neglect our physical poise we pull down our mental poise,
likewise our spiritual poise. That is why personality must be kept
constantly protected against encroachment; but this can be so fixed by
purpose, plan, and power of will that it becomes automatically
safeguarded. Once in possession we have only to make it part of our
natural selves and _wear it unconsciously_ to the last breath of life.
Then the question is, why should we allow ourselves to be satisfied with
an imperfect personality? It only reflects back upon ourselves. Haven't
we often heard a man say: "_He is all right but_...!" Perhaps the
personality in question was untidy, or that his walk was that of a
laggard, or that he affected an egotistical air of
superiority--whatever the impairment it should have been done away with.
A man of personality should never be haunted with worry from the sneers
of his inferiors because of their own laxity. Some men perfect their
manner of speech to a degree which takes it above that of their weaker
fellows, others develop fine qualities which are viewed by ordinary
individuals as affectations but which are in reality the result of
The man of no refinement has indeed an uphill fight but with persistence
and ambition to succeed he can win. Lincoln, the rail splitter, is the
most shining example of _the power to will victory_. For him to have
fallen by the wayside would have caused no comment for it would have
been expected in those early days of struggle, but to those who have the
benefit of inherited tendencies toward personality, to fail in its
development is in the nature of a crime.
Personality does not mean over-refinement. _Sturdy qualities_ are the
necessary ones. Over-refinement leads to the softer life and ofttimes to
degeneracy. Exalted ego is an indication of degeneracy and may have
been inherited. Of those things we inherit that are good we must hold,
and everlastingly must we watch those which are bad. It is never wise to
wander far away from basic principles into preachment. What we need is
guidance along the road to the goal of personality. First of all we need
_health_ and second, _the will to do_. Next, we must use these weapons
in the right direction, for personality is at its zenith when backed up
by _strong physique and brain power_.
From previous chapters we have learned that success of any kind is
predicated upon keeping ourselves in trim, and in good humor. Keeping in
trim is no trick at all. We can make it a part of every physical action
and as keeping in trim means perfection of body and soundness of mind we
should never neglect to utilize any effort that will help us toward
bodily efficiency. _There is exercise in stooping over to pick up a pin
if we will go about it the right way. We can correct an ill-formed body
by adopting and maintaining a certain carriage. We may hold our chin in
such a way as to provide against stooped shoulders._
We have opportunities both morning and evening to indulge in various
forms of light, systematic exercises which will push forward the day's
work with zest and vim.
Poise has everything to do with personality, therefore the physical
structure must come in for its share of proper attention. No man of
refined personality would walk the streets with a soiled face or
uncombed hair. Such things do not give poise. They are the evidences of
a laggard spirit. The more we exercise the more energetic we become, the
surer we are of ourselves, the farther we get in the development of our
[Illustration: _Over the Hills and Far Away--Father and Son_]
HONESTY, THE CHARACTER BUILDER
Just as the straight line is the shortest distance between two points so
is honesty the only proper attitude of one person toward another.
Without it there is no understanding possible. It must always remain
supreme as a quality without which character becomes a sham, a
superficial thing that has no basis in fact. _The ability to look the
other fellow in the eye_ is as necessary to character as the foundation
is to a house. It comes out of that "_great within_" which we are now
exploring. It arises from the courageous facing of our weaknesses and
becomes a part of the man _who knows himself and laughs with life_, at
the mere joy of living, doing, accomplishing ... winning against all
Honesty accompanies a proper self-esteem and its cultivation should
become a part of our earliest education. It doesn't grow anywhere
except within ourselves and will never be handed to us on a silver
platter. If we fail to find it when we are young it will have small
chance of obtaining a grip on us later. _It is the one quality with
which to crown our highest attributes._ It is final proof that we are
capable of just thought and square dealing, and is proof positive that
we are part and parcel of the wholesome spirit which rules the universe.
Its possession is greater than riches for its dividend is happiness and
contentment and we cannot go wrong if we so live that we can look any
man in the eye and _tell him the truth_.
To live in the full sense means to be alert. Whatever high moral plane
we shall achieve must be held against all temptation. There is no
compromise. _Self-deceit_ is nothing less than _self-stultification_. We
only fool ourselves and soon find ourselves slipping down hill. It will
be hard climbing getting back. And what of the wear and tear on our
Honesty does not grow naturally out of a dull, uninspired life. It goes
with the energetic, the forceful. The dull soul who is content to plod
along year after year in the same rut may be honest, and this one
redeeming feature may be of such inestimable value to him that it
sweetens and softens his entire days. It will bring him friends ...
true-blue friends, who will excuse all other shortcomings _because of
his honesty_. It gives him the unadulterated trust of his employer and
it arouses a certain admiration among his narrow circle of
acquaintances. If this is true with the dullard, the weakling, then what
must it mean _when possessed by the great_? We know, for instance, how
the nation instinctively turned to General Washington when it came to
choosing their President after the Revolutionary War. He may have been
gifted, he may have been one of the world's greatest captains, but the
one quality which endeared him to his countrymen was a tremendous moral
superiority. "_He never told a lie_" rang around the world. Summed up,
his virtues amounted to those five words. Some statesmen may have been
more astute but Washington was honest--"_he never told a lie_." The
people knew they could trust this man so they elected him to fill the
highest place within their gift.
Honesty with ourselves is the first thing to remember. Unless we are, it
will be impossible for us to enter into that spiritual contentment
enjoyed by those who _are_ honest with themselves. If we are untrue to
ourselves how can we be true to others? The framework of a man's moral
being must be that of honesty. It must become his very nature and become
automatic in its processes. It belongs to the healthy, those who keep
themselves well through _vigorous exercise and temperate living_. It is
not a quality set aside for the lucky few. Every man, woman and child
possesses it in some degree and only its constant neglect trims it to a
minimum. It is one of those fundamentals of life, one of those powerful
and moving forces that rule society. _We are either honest or we are
not._ We cannot be _nearly honest_ and get away with it.
When one stops to consider honesty, even for a moment, its full
importance is realized. For example, imagine having a dishonest friend.
Could we go to him with the secrets of our heart? Could we trust him?
Would we trust anyone who might turn traitor? Again: suppose we were
untrue to ourselves, and the fact became known. Could we blame others if
they passed us up as a companion? Never in a thousand years. _We must
sleep in the beds we prepare for ourselves._
Men have grown accustomed through the years to certain standards. These
are now the moral laws which control and guide the destinies of entire
races, whole generations. There must have been a good reason for these
laws or they could never have come into being. Society does not adopt
many unnecessary rules, but among the vital laws _honesty stands out in
bold relief_. It has become deeply imbedded in the minds of mankind that
everyone must be true to himself. It is taken for granted that those who
are not would naturally be _false to everybody_.
The reason for this lies in the fact that society will not proceed with
any course of action without being able to trust its members. The
general in charge of an army would have a hard time of it if he were
unable to place faith in the subordinate to whom he gave instructions
that might lead to a crisis in the battle. Society would dash itself
upon the rocks were it not conscious that certain people are
courageously honest, _and in these it finds its leaders_.
To rise in life means that our fellow man believes in us and wishes us
to do so. Without his co-operation it would be futile to arouse our own
ambitions. We could not hope to win a victory all alone and against the
great majority who believe in certain standards and conditions. We might
fool ourselves into thinking that because of some stroke of fortune we
had established an immunity for ourselves. But some day _our
consciences_ would tell us how feebly we had succeeded.
There is only one method, only one way ... rise through honesty and an
optimistic belief in self. And let us not plume ourselves because of
our virtue. _Personal honesty is our due to ourselves and our fellow
One of the distinctive elements in the honest man's make-up is that of
laughter. The ones who live up to their ideals, do not feel that life is
such a dark place, after all. It may mean hard work, little play and
often delayed rewards but the fact that there is a world, and that it is
filled with other honest souls is reward enough to give us courage to
laugh as we go along. _We can always afford to laugh--when we're
The man who is innately honest has no reason to fear the snares of
fortune. He knows that he can win the trust of men; he knows that he
already has it. He has no dread of looking into the other fellow's eye.
He knows where he stands in life. He has won that which he has through
struggle, and he does not intend to lose it. He does not intend to fail.
_He cannot fail--he cannot lose._ No matter how things might go at this
moment or that the next will find him on the rising tide of new
opportunities---new chances. His reputation travels before him like the
advance agent. His coming is heralded and he is welcomed into any
It isn't as though there were only a few honest men. This welcome, this
"glad hand," is always extended by society to the honest man as a token
of approval. The world's work is a tremendous matter. There is always
room for another worker to handle some part of it. And only the true,
the sincere, are capable of doing this in the proper way. The leaders of
society in the broader sense are those _who win the faith of the average
man_. We look up to Lincoln because we know that he was the one man in a
million to accomplish the greatest task ever set before a human being.
We realize that he was honest--_honest in the huge sense_ so necessary
to the accomplishment of big ideals. And we know that in order to win
some part of that great trust we must obey the standards of honesty and
decency that lie below the surface and only need to be called to life
and action in order to be used.
And laughter will arouse that sense as quickly as anything else. The man
who is capable of laughing heartily is not apt to be the one who
carries some _conscience-stricken thought around with him_. It is the
easiest thing in the world to detect an untrue laugh. The real laugh
springs out of the depths of being and comes with a ringing sense of
security and _faith in one's self_. It goes with the workman in the
early morning when he swings along the road to the factory. It
accompanies the soldier into battle. It arouses the clerk from lethargy.
It brightens the sick room. It raises us all to unexplored heights, and
as evidence of our state of mind it can only mean one thing--honesty and
sincerity. No character can exist without this outward exhibition of an
inward honesty. _The mere cultivation of laughter would eventually lead
to honesty._ The fact that you are laughing, enjoying life, awakens you
to a spirit of security and a feeling of the joy of living. Gloomy men
are the ones whose tendency is toward crime and trouble. Laughing men
are the ones who stir the world with new desires and make life worth
living. Therefore we say--_laugh and live_!
[Illustration: _A Scene from "His Picture in the Papers"_]
CLEANLINESS OF BODY AND MIND
If we interview many of life's failures we will find that the
overwhelming majority went down because of their neglect to get out of
an environment that was not stimulating and because their ambitions had
grown rusty and inefficient to cope with depressing circumstances. The
prisons and other institutions are filled with people who did not make
any attempt to get away from the vicious surroundings in which they
lived. They were like tadpoles that had never grown to frogs ... they
just kept swimming around in their muddy puddles and, not having grown
legs with which they could leap out onto the banks and away to other
climes, they continued to swim in monotonous circles until they died. In
other words, the failure is a man who dwells in muddy atmosphere all his
days, who is content to remain a tadpole and who never attempts to take
advantage of any opportunity. He becomes unclean, so to speak. And that
is what we mean by this chapter heading "_Cleanliness of Body and
Mind_." It was not intended to point out the proper way to keep our
faces and hands clean, or as a sermon, but rather to show ourselves that
_the clean body begets the clean mind_, the two together constituting
compelling tendencies toward _the clean spirit_. A move in the direction
of these takes us out of the rut of life.
No matter what cause we dig up with which to explain our success in life
we cannot neglect this most important one--_the careful selection of our
acquaintances_. And this doesn't mean that one must be a snob. Far from
it. It only means that the successful man, the man who wishes to rise in
life, should not spend his days in the company of _illiterate
companions_ who do not possess _ambition of heart or the will to do the
work of the world_. It means that life is too short to hang around the
loafing places with the driftwood of humanity listening to their stories
of failure and drinking in with liquor some of their bitterness against
those who have toiled and won the fruits of their toil. It means that we
will not go out of our way to seek the friendship of men and women who
are simply endeavoring to gain happiness in life without paying for it.
It means that we will do all in our power to win friends who _aspire
nobly_ and by so doing inspire those with whom they come in contact.
Such men are naturally clean of mind and body.
We must remember always to live in a world of clear thought that will
_stimulate our ambitions_. Dwelling in the dark corners of life and
traveling with the debris of humanity will not arouse us to action and
give us that swinging vigor of heart and mind so necessary to the
accomplishment of great things. While we will ever lend the helping hand
to those who need it we will naturally associate with those who have vim
and courage. We will not be _dragged down by our associates_. Until we
meet the right kind we will hold aloof, and we will not be morose and
gloomy because it happens that at this moment our acquaintanceship does
not include these successes. When we have succeeded in doing something
big they will come to us and _if we think big things we are likely to do
them_. It is all a matter of the will to do.
"Nothing succeeds like success," said some very wise man and if there
ever was a phrase that rang with truth this does. It means that the
_thought of success_, the courage that _comes with success_, leads to
_more and more success_. It means that the thinker of these thoughts is
living in a clean, wholesome atmosphere along with those who are
determined and in earnest. It means that they have caught the fervor of
true life ... a healthy, contagious fervor which permeates the blood
swiftly once it gets a hold, and like electricity it vivifies and stirs
the spirit with renewed energy _day after day, year after year_. Once it
wins us it will stick with us. The success of those about us will shake
our lethargic limbs and stimulate us to a desire to do as they do. We
will be in a world of clean thought and action and our lives will mirror
their lives, our thoughts will be filled with wholesome things and with
good health. We will win in spite of all obstacles.
Cleanliness is _the morale of the body and the mind_. The man who is
careful of his linen and who does not neglect his morning plunge is not
apt to be gloomy and morose. We notice him in the car or on the street
in the morning. He comes striding along, fresh and full of _the zest of
living_. His mind is clear and unclouded. His eyes are full of that
vigorous light of conscientious desire to win and do so honestly. He has
none of the hypocritical elements in his nature strong enough to rule
him. There may be and probably are many weaknesses in his character. His
very strength consists in his ability to _crush them and make them his
The man who has taken his morning plunge and dressed himself agreeable
to comfort and grace, has his battles of the day won in advance. He
knows the value of keeping himself in trim. He does it for the sake of
_his own_ feelings. Our approval of his appearance goes without saying.
If a man thinks well of himself in matters of appearance his general
deportment is likely to coincide. Such men never overdo. They are at
ease with themselves and thus impart ease to others who come in contact
with them. They have, in other words, a distinction of their own and
_their distinction is their power_. They know that the highest moral law
of nature is that of cleanliness, that filthiness should not be allowed
to dominate any man's ethics or physical condition. They rule such
things out of their lives.
A vast magnetic force comes out of those friends of ours who are _doing
things_ and making the world _sit up and take notice_. The mere fact
that we live near to them, know them and associate with them is
proof-positive that we, too, shall go through life with clean minds and
bodies. They would not tolerate us if we were to slip into shoddy ways.
Nothing is revealed quicker to our intimates than _the losing of
ambition_ ... the slipping into careless habits. We cannot conceal it
from them. We fool only those who brush by. The loss of this
self-respect has a terrible effect upon the system and every tendency
toward success is thereby stunted and weakened. _We have fallen into
unclean ways!_ It will not be long before we sink to the bottom or else
remain among the vast crowd who have neither the courage to fall nor the
courage to rise.
Nothing produces failure quicker than filthiness of mind and body. Those
who are successful keep away from the very thought of such a condition.
They live as much as possible _in the open_. They take morning and
evening exercises. They read good books, attend good plays and are
continually in touch with the finer developments of thought and art in
the world. Their faces are open and full of sunlight. They are
determined that life will not beat them in a game that only requires
sureness of aim and the ability to take advantage of the thousand and
one opportunities that surround them on every side.
Cleanliness stands _paramount_ in its importance to _success_. Perhaps
no other one thing has so vital a hold upon the individual who succeeds.
The general of an army first looks to the _morale_ of his troops. He
knows that with clean minds and bodies his soldiers are capable of doing
big things. The battleship, that efficient and highly-developed
instrument of war, is so immaculate that one could eat his meals on its
very decks. Its officers are wholesome, athletic fellows; its crew
consists of hardy men who live sanely and vigorously and who have plenty
to occupy their minds. And if cleanliness is fundamental in their case
why not in our own?
When we come to analyze ourselves we find that we are like a great
institution of some kind. Here is the brain, the heart, the lungs, the
stomach, the nerves and the muscles. Each department acts separately and
yet is connected absolutely with all the others. The entire system is
under one supreme department ... _the mind_. Now if this ruling
department is kept clean and full, of kindly, beautiful thoughts does it
not seem natural that the rest will follow its lead being so completely
in its power? We realize this and the mere realization is something done
towards the accomplishment of an ideal life in a world of cleanliness
System is one of the finest tools in existence with which to build one's
life into something worth while. The _body_ must be run on a system as
well as the _mind_. The stomach must not be overloaded with unnecessary
food. The lungs must not be filled with impure air. The nerves must not
be worn threadbare in riotous and ridiculous living. The muscles must be
kept in trim with consistent exercise of the proper sort. We must
recognize the wants, the needs of the physical system and see that they
Roosevelt, perhaps more than any other living man today, has given
vitality to the supreme necessity of _cleanliness of mind and body_. He
has, by reason of his great prominence, been able to emphasize these two
vital essentials. He called a spade a spade and his message went far.
From those who knew the value of his words came nods of
approval--_others took heed_. From boyhood he has systematized his life,
taking the exercise needed, filling his mind with the learning of the
world, winning when others would have failed, profiting by experience
allotted to him through fate's kindly offices and association with the
_healthy, true men_. What has been the result? He has risen to the very
pinnacle of human endeavor ... _no honors await him_. He has lived
consistently and cleanly and he can look any man in the eye and say
honestly: "_I have lived as I have believed._"
It is not necessary to become President in order to live sanely, to gain
from circumstances the fruits that are ours for the asking and which
have fallen into Roosevelt's hands with such profusion. We cannot all
become Presidents but we can all _emulate a shining example of mental
and bodily morale_.
Just as we plunge into the cold water in the early morning so should we
regularly during the day plunge into the society of those whose splendid
enthusiasm is helping to make the world a better place to live in. They
are the kind who go into the struggle with heads high and with clean
hearts. Their eyes see beyond the daily toil of life. They are in touch
with the big things and it is up to us to keep step with them. They want
us and they will give us the "glad hand." All they want to know is
whether our courage is equal to our ambitions and whether our _house of
life is kept in good order_. And so we journey along together in all
good nature, not forgetting to laugh as we live.
CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS
Consideration for others is man's noblest attitude toward his fellow
man. For every seed of human kindness he plants, _a flower blooms in the
garden of his own heart_. In him who gives in such a way there is no
hypocritical feeling of charity bestowed. His very act disarms the
thought. It is as natural for an honorable man to show consideration to
others as it is for him to eat and sleep. Acts of kindness are the
_outward manifestations of gentle breeding_--a refinement of character
in the highest sense of the word.
What would we do in this world without the helping hand, the friendly
word of cheer, the thought that others shared our losses and cheered our
victories? If consideration for our feelings and thoughts did not exist
on this earth we would never know the depths of the love of our friends.
There would be no such thing as an earthly reward of merit. We know that
no matter what happens to us in the battle of life there will be someone
to cheer us on our way. We may be strong and thoroughly able to rely
upon ourselves but there comes a time when we need friendship and
sympathy. Society would crumble into dust without these influences. The
family circle would degenerate into a hollow mockery if consideration
each for the other was absent. It sweetens and makes wholesome what
otherwise might only be an existence of monotonous toil.
Consideration for others is _the milk of human kindness_. For what we do
for others our recompense is _in the act itself_ ... we should claim no
other reward. Observation brings to view that they who give in real
charity _cloak their acts from the eyes of all save the recipient_.
Givers of this type rise to the supreme heights of greatness. It is a
part of their wisdom to know what is best to be done and they go about
it as a pleasure as well as a duty.
Consideration for others pays big dividends. It is a virtue that makes
for strong friendships and true affections. Those who possess it have a
hard time hiding their light under a bushel. In teaching fortitude to
others they partake of the same knowledge. In the hours of their own
affliction they retain their courage and keep their minds unsoured. They
are the _sure-enough "good fellows" of life_ and their presence is the
signal for instantaneous good cheer. We all know them by their gentle
knock at the door. In a thousand ways they impress themselves upon our
lives, have entered into our councils, have given us the right advice at
the right time--and when the sad day comes along _their strong shoulders
are there for us to lean upon_.
Consideration for others is apt to be an inherent quality, but like
everything else it can be accentuated or modified according to our own
determination. It is a growth that should be inculcated _early in the
lives of children_--the earlier the better. A child's most
impressionable age is said to be between its fourth and fifth years.
Then is the time to teach it the little niceties of life--the closing of
a door softly--tip-toeing quietly that mother may not be awakened from
her nap--tidiness--cleanliness--good morals--all of which are to become
vital factors in a life of consideration for others.
A great many of us have the desire to be of service to others but
_timidity_ holds us back. Say, for instance, one might see a person in
great distress and because of diffidence withhold the proffered
hand--someone we've known who comes to the point of penury but has _too
much pride_ to ask assistance--we pass by fearful that we might offend.
How many times has this happened to us? Who knows but the best friend we
have at this very moment would give anything in the world if his pride
would let him bridge that distance between us.
[Illustration: _A Scene from "The Americano"--Matching Wits for Gold_]
Nevertheless the desire to do the right thing was in itself helpful. The
thought of doing something for someone was a correct impulse and
should have been carried into action. Early in life we should have
started our foundation for doing things in the cause of others. Putting
off the time when we shall begin to obey our higher impulses toward
helpfulness to our fellows is but a reaction in our own characters which
_dulls determination_. We want to do but we don't. As time goes on we
just _don't_--that's all. Our good intentions have gone to pave the
bottomless pits containing our unfulfilled heart promptings. We meant
well--_but we failed to act_--we didn't have the courage. Our failures
spread a gloom before us. _We lost our chances for a happy life!_
The man with the ability to laugh has little diffidence about these
matters. Having confidence in himself and being happy and alert he goes
to the friend in need with courage and the kind of help that helps. If
he doesn't do it directly he finds a way to reach him through mutual
friends. He does not go about _parading_ his kindness, either. He has
gained a sincere and beautiful pleasure out of aiding an old friend and
he can go on his way rejoicing that life is worth living when he has
lived up to its higher ideals.
Consideration for others does not necessarily involve only the big
things. It is the sum and total of numberless acts and thoughts that
make for friendships and kindliness. People who are thoughtful surely
brighten the world. They are ever ready to do some little thing at the
correct moment and after a time we begin to realize how much their
presence means to us. We may not notice them the first time, or the
third, or the fifth, but after a while we become conscious of their
persistence and we esteem them accordingly. Such men are the products of
_clean, straightforward lives._ They are never too busy to exchange a
pleasant word. They do not flame into anger on a pretext. Their code of
existence is well ordered and filled to the brim with lots to do and
lots to think about. The old saying: "_If you want anything go to a busy
man_," applies to them in this regard. The busier men are the more time
they seem to have for _kindliness_.
Another word for consideration is service. Nothing brings a greater
self-reward than a service done in an hour of need, or a favor granted
during a day's grind. The generous man who climbs to the top of the
ladder helps many others on their way. The more he does for someone else
the more he does for _himself_. The stronger he becomes--the greater his
influence in his community. Doing things for others may not bring in
_bankable dividends_ but it does bring in _happiness_. Such actions
scorn a higher reward. We have only to try out the plan to learn the
truth for ourselves. A good place to begin is _at home_. Then, _the
office_, or wherever life leads us. And in doing these things we will
laugh as we go along--we will laugh and get the most out of living.
Our little day-by-day kindnesses when added together constitute in time
a huge asset on the right side of our ledger of life. We should start
the day with something that helps another get through his day ... even
if it isn't any more than a smile and a wave of the hand. And he will
remember us for it.
It is said that advice is cheap and for that reason is given freely.
But the proper kind of advice is about as rare as the proverbial hen's
tooth. In order to give real advice we must understand the man who asks
for it. If what we say to him is to become of value we must see to it
that his mind is put in proper shape to receive advice. Be sure that he
laughs, or smiles at least, before we seriously take up his case. And
when we have done our stunt in the way of advice let's send him away
with a fine good humor. A friendly pat on the back as he goes out our
doorway may mean a bracer to his determination. "_You'll put it over_,"
we shout after him--and thus we have been of real help. He needed
sympathy and courage. He needed a cheerful spirit--so came to us and we
didn't let him go away until we gave him all these. Bully for us!
Consideration for others does not admit of ostentation and hypocrisy. We
never allow our left hand to know what our right hand does in charity,
nor do we _boast of our helpful attitude toward our fellow men_. It is
well to make a point of this fact--in this world are many
"_ne'er-do-wells"_ who fail to profit by advice and thereby become
professional in the seeking of favors. Consideration owes them nothing
and to withstand their persistent appeals would in time _dull our
natural tendencies_ toward helping others.
The world helps those who help themselves. We have little admiration for
the man who is forever whining. Society has no work for such people as
these. When we have exhausted every means of helping such a man we must
in self-defense pass him up before he contaminates our sense of justice.
_We must keep our visions clear._
Consideration for others is a prime refinement of character. To be able
to use it in our daily lives becomes one of our greatest consolations.
Sympathy begets affection and kindly deeds--in a relative sense it binds
together the properties which go to make _the soul within us_.
Browbeating, scolding, irascibility and the like are microbes which
react against the milk of human kindness, to which, if we succumb,
leaves us stranded and alone amid a world of friendliness and good
KEEPING OURSELVES DEMOCRATIC
Big words and pomposity never were designed for the highest types of
men. Our great national figures have almost without exception had one
quality which was a keynote to their ultimate success--this was their
_simplicity_. Next was their _accessibility_. There are numberless
big-hearted and big-brained individuals in the world whose duties are so
manifold that in order to accomplish what has been placed in their hands
they must be saved from interruption, but the truly great individual is
never hidden away entirely from his fellow man. He never becomes such a
slave to detail that he does not find time to fraternize with ordinary
mortals. We do not find him concealed behind impenetrable barriers,
guarded and pampered by courtiers like unto a king on his throne--or
tucked away in some dark office. He wants to know _everybody worth
while_ and everybody worth while is welcomed by him. He doesn't affect
to know so much that he cannot be told something new. He is not the sort
to refuse to see us at any reasonable time.
We should not confound _greatness_, however, with _notoriety_. A man who
by virtue of large publicity has compelled public notice isn't
necessarily a great man no matter how hard he may strive to make himself
appear so. Especially is this true of the man who does not make a
personal success corresponding to his advertised fame. In time he may
have the "ear-marks" of notability but, as Lincoln said: "_You can't
fool all of the people all of the time._"
It is to be noted with satisfaction that the big captains of industry
keep themselves free from petty details. "I surrounded myself with
clever men," said Andrew Carnegie in accounting for his success and by
the same token the men who took over his great affairs and gave them
larger scope and power surrounded themselves with still other clever
men, thus reserving their judgment and thought _for the higher policies
of their institutions_. They keep themselves in readiness for
consultation, and having men of _initiative_ and _self-reliance_
underneath them, they find time to take in hand other affairs than those
of the tremendous businesses they manage. Men of this type often become
prominent in public affairs and develop into highly important citizens.
The bigger the man, the less he encumbers himself with matters which can
be delegated to others. His desk is clear of all litter and
minutia--_likewise his mind_. Such men keep their physiques and
mentalities in fine working order and are not to be goaded into _ill
temper_. A refinement of mind is supremely essential to the man who
desires to climb to the very top of the ladder. He cannot afford to
close his brain to outside information. He is forced to keep it open in
order to let in continuous currents of new thought. He doesn't want his
visage to "_cream and mantle as a standing pond_" as Shakespeare aptly
puts it--therefore the windows of his thinking department are kept open
for refreshing draughts from the outside. He reasons that always there
are new guests, new faces, new things to talk about at the banquet board
[Illustration: _Taking on Local Color_]
And here is the point--if men who carry on the great industries of the
world find a way to keep themselves democratic surely men of less
importance should be able to do the same? The snob is about as offensive
a person as could be described. He is usually a hypocrite or an
ignoramus--sometimes both. His pomposity is naturally repellent. We
easily become accustomed to dodging such characters. The detriment is
theirs--not ours. They are left by the wayside and sooner or later wake
up to the fact that they stand alone in the world.
The world loves the man with _an open mind_. This is the usual spirit of
the progressive citizen. _He wants to know_--and by reason of his
accessibility knowledge is brought to him. No one cares to take up the
task of informing the egotist who already knows it all. Such is his
inherent cussedness that we would rather let him warp in the oven of
his own half-baked knowledge. Life is too short to waste our time in
"How can I see Mr. So-and-so?" says one man to another.
"Don't try," is the answer. "He's not worth seeing. You can't tell _him_
And this sort of a chap misses the big opportunities just because he
chooses to build up a reputation for being exclusive. He digs himself a
hole and crawls into it _and pulls the hole in after him_. We can safely
imagine him treating the members of his family as though they were
servants, and his employees as though they were slaves. He may succeed
in small things but in the big game of life we may write him down as a
If we have a big idea we take it to a big man--_the man of vision_.
Anything less is to putter around aimlessly. The bigger he is, the more
democratic. He will not look for imperfections in our personal make-up
when we show him the _new process_ we have discovered.
To be democratic is a triumph of the soul--tending to bring us in close
touch with the throbbing heart of humanity. There is no isolation for
those of unaffected charm and manner--no barrier in the way of
friendship worth having. It is our lack of judgment if we hide ourselves
so that we cannot be approached. No matter how high we rise, for the
sake of our own brains we must allow _men of ideas_ to get to us. We
must not allow our minds to become stagnant. If we fail to get into
daily contact with other people, we soon grow dull and uninteresting
even to ourselves. Great men may have no time to fritter away but they
have plenty of leisure for men worth while--_the pushers and the
A democratic spirit does not come to the selfish man. He is absorbed in
himself and is quite a hopeless case. He is a natural born faultfinder
and grouchy by nature. For him life holds no joy save the one in sight.
Taking the big look at the man of this type we can only be sorry for him
because of his lack of early training. He started off on the wrong foot
and thereafter drifted along. Seldom do we overcome the habits with
which we arrive at man's estate. Those who do are entitled to a right
hand seat among the chosen.
Being democratic is another phrase for being _human and kind_. It means
that we ought to be able to see behind every face and find the truth of
that individual's existence. It means that life is largely a matter of
how we look at it and being human is one way to get the proper slant at
The human mind has _great adaptive power_ and can be molded into a
thousand ways of thinking. The intelligent man, the man who has taken
stock of himself, is able to smile and extend a hearty handclasp whether
he feels tip-top or not. He doesn't have to look glum simply because the
world hasn't thrown itself at his feet. He has only to persevere and
success will come eventually.
We must correct our failings as we go along or we will slip down into
the rut and stay there. It is a simple matter to be good natured and
full of the zest of life if we poise ourselves right--_keep ourselves
democratic_. It is this great soul quality which brings us true friends
and boosts us into the fulfillment of our ambitions. Then we may truly
_laugh and live_.
SELF-EDUCATION BY GOOD READING
The character of a man expresses itself by the books he reads. Every
well-informed man since the invention of printing has been a close
reader of a few books that stand out from among the many. We read of
Lincoln devouring the few books he had, over and over again and studying
from cover to cover and word for word the Webster's dictionary of his
day. We know that Grant had his favorite volumes from which he drew
inspiration and solace. These men made eternal friends of certain great
thinkers and drank in their learning with all the fervor of their
"A few good books, digested well, do feed
"Feed the mind!" That's the idea--_but how shall we feed it_? The answer
is easy--with something _worth while_--something that will inform and
inspire. We can cram our minds to the point of indigestion with useless,
frivolous information just as easily as we may cram our stomachs with
certain foods that tear down rather than build up. The habit of reading
the right sort of books should begin early in life and continue
throughout our days.
Good books are real ... and as we read we feel, hear, see and understand
in the way the author did. If what is said appeals to our way of
thinking _a new world_ is unfolded to our vision filled to the brim with
things we can think about and add to our stock of knowledge. While we
are buried in its leaves we may live over the thoughts that the writer
lived. For the time being he becomes as real and vital to us as the
dearest friend we possess. Gradually, as the time passes by, he creeps
into our affections until our lives would not be complete without the
comradeship of his cherished book.
Books that become our "pals" are not necessarily books of the so-called
classical type. Little known volumes may prove to have enough thought
stored away between their covers to keep us interested all our days. The
great books will prove their worth in a short time no matter how poor
the binding, how bad the type or how cheap the paper. These things are
after all only the outward manifestations and though we like to see our
friends dressed well yet we know that the clothes do not make character
unless there is character there in the first place. And so it is with
books. These little ungainly volumes which we purchase on the stands may
be the classics of tomorrow ... who knows?
We select our library carefully. No matter if we live in a tiny hall
bedroom on the top floor of a boarding house we have a shelf somewhere
with a few good books on it. Emerson's "Essays" can be had in one volume
and are well worth having. No other American writer has been so
inspiring, so invigorating as this thinker of Concord. One cannot read
his essays without having a desire to _get up and do_. It is like a
breath of fresh air ... a tonic ... a stiff morning walk. It stirs the
mind to action and inspires us to lift ourselves out of the rut into
which we have fallen. One returns to them time after time, each reading
opening up new vistas of thought, new lines of mental development.
[Illustration: _A Scene from "His Picture in the Papers"_]
_As a man's stomach is what he eats, a man's mind is what he reads._ It
goes without saying that no healthy, active mind could exist without the
companionship of Shakespeare. Nowadays it is possible to secure the
entire works of the immortal poet in one volume. There is a special
Oxford University edition which can be had for a small sum. The type is
large, the paper good and there are many notes to help one over the
rocky places. There is no doubt of the truth of the saying that a man
who reads Shakespeare consistently and with understanding needs no other
education. Like the philosopher Emerson he boiled down the world's
thoughts into terse sentences and one goes into a new universe when
reading any of the plays. It is a good thing to learn parts of them by
heart so that we can apply them to our own lives. They strengthen the
mind ... their beauty lifts us into a great realism of splendid thought
... and they fill the heart with a longing to do something great. Such
books should become steady companions through life. No matter where our
duties call us we should see to it that we do not leave behind the
thoughts of this master mind of Shakespeare. The very fact that we have
them near us lifts us out of the monotony of nothing to do.
Among the books about America for Americans perhaps Roosevelt's "Winning
of the West" is among the best. Not only has he thrown the whole vigor
of his interesting personality into the writing of it, but he has given
us a vivid picture of the conquest of the States by the settlers. No man
could read it without being thrilled at the dangers our forefathers
faced ... at the great courage they possessed ... at their hardihood ...
their bulldog tenacity. The reading of such a book is like going back
over the years and living with them, sharing their troubles and their
enthusiasms. The man who contemplates gathering a small library could
not afford to do without the inspiration of what his countrymen have
done for him.
In choosing our books we must bear in mind one thing--_let them be
inspiring_. Let them be of such a nature that when we read them we will
feel like going out into the world to accomplish something _big_!
That is probably the mission of great books--to inspire and uplift. The
world's greatest men have been readers--would they have cared for books
unless they were inspiring? It is said that when Napoleon was being
taken to St. Helena he advised one of the officers never to stop
Most of the things worth while are at some time or other stored away in
books by the thinkers. Every phase of history, every movement to better
mankind and lift it above the drudgery of mere toil, every beautiful
thought is to be found in them and the better the book the more will be
found in it of these very things. When we have finished the day's work
we can pull down a volume from the shelf and in a moment be lost in an
entirely different world. The man who neglects to read surely misses the
one best means of broadening his mind.
All books of the better class furnish food for thought and are excellent
tools for the man of initiative. To read means keeping in touch with the
big visions. We cherish these dreams and make them real in plans of our
own. Aspiration is behind the pages of every worth-while volume. It was
the motive power which drove the author to produce it and it should
become a part of the forces which drive us on to victory. Without such
inspiration we grope as children in the dark. We are without a light to
guide us on our way.
Books by such men as Marden and Hubbard are great generators of the
electricity of doing things. They have put into words those innermost
emotions which are the instruments of success. They point out a way we
may safely follow. They loan us inspiration which causes us to act for
ourselves. They give us thoughts that are useful and practical which we
never would have gained by virtue of our own reasoning power. They made
it a life work to coin into phrases words that inspire. Out of their
large experience came the logical sequences of cause and effect. Not to
profit by their teachings is a crime against our own prospects--without
them we lag behind. Instead of progressing we look on in wonder at what
is going on in the world. Somehow we cannot connect ourselves with the
big enterprises. And all because we failed to feed our minds properly.
There is much to be gained both in pleasure and knowledge by reading
historical novels, and the lives of great men. The books of Sir Walter
Scott and James Fenimore Cooper are rated among the best in the world.
Grant's autobiography and the personal stories of other famous Americans
provide fascinating material with which to establish and fortify our
test for good literature. The tales of modern American financiers is
another field of absorbing interest.
The man with small means can provide himself with a working library for
a very little money. Books are cheap. The public library is always
nearby and there is hardly a town of any size but what has one. When we
purchase a book we should be sure to obtain the best edition and be
careful that it is printed from good type and on clear paper. Books are
likely to become warm friends. We should never purchase an abridged
Binding is not such an important factor, although we like to have _our
favorite books_ put up in a handsome fashion. With Shakespeare, Emerson,
Roosevelt, Scott, Cooper, Marden and Hubbard one would have quite a
representative collection for a start. It would be easy to expand the
list into many more. Of course, those collecting a small library who
have a specialty, will want books dealing with the subjects in which
they are interested. However, every practical library includes books of
inspirational character, and if one makes a study of the books written
by great authors it will be found that all of them profited by the
reading of books which caused them to think. _The Bible causes us to
think!--and no library is complete without it._
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL PREPAREDNESS
It is not the object of this chapter to deal with a set course of
physical culture, but rather to emphasize the necessity of keeping our
physical house in order. There are plenty of books on physical culture
which can be relied upon and also any number of physical instructors who
are able to advise and help along a set program. There are hundreds of
places, institutions, clubs, Y.M.C.A.'s, and the like, which provide
gymnasiums and every other facility for those who determine to build
themselves up through consistent physical exercise. That is all very
well to begin with, but afterward we must have some simple methods of
our own which will not make it a hardship or a chore to keep ourselves
in trim--_a state of physical preparedness_. It should become a part of
our daily scheme to obey certain, simple rules which tend toward an
_automatic effort_ instead of a discipline, and we should persevere in
these until they become _fixed habits_.
It is no trouble at all to take exercise unconsciously, and we only
arrive at this by turning into an exercise any of our ordinary physical
actions during the day as we go along. For instance, we can sit down in
a chair and in so doing can add a certain amount of exercise to the
action itself--also in rising. With very little effort we can come into
the habit of sitting correctly--posing the body as it should be--holding
the shoulders in proper position--also the chin so that it becomes a
hardship to sit improperly.
All of this has to do with _general physique_. In walking we can go
along with a spring, elasticity, and vigor of motion which forces a fine
blood circulation throughout the entire system. We can stoop over in the
act of picking up some object from the floor and at the same time make
it a matter of physical exercise, and we may take a hat from the rack
while standing away from it, thus stretching ourselves, as it were,
into a little needful action. Putting on an overcoat, or any part of our
clothing, may be done in such a way as to set the blood to racing
through the body. Morning and night--upon getting up and upon
retiring--there is every reason to make it a rule to exercise freely.
The morning exercise wakes us up and sits us down finally at the
breakfast table with a zest for the food set before us. The morning bath
is an agency for good in this direction after we have given ourselves a
good shake-up from head to foot. By the same token, exercises at night
before retiring induces sound sleep and takes away the strain of the
A very successful system is that of exercising in bed. Instead of
immediately jumping to the floor in the morning it is very inviting to
go through some simple form of gymnastics in which the physical
structure is brought into play.
Physical exercise is something which can be carried to extremes. We can
go at the work so intensely that we become muscle-bound and develop some
structural enlargements that we do not need. This happens very often
among athletes. The ordinary man should fight shy of such plans.
Superfluous strength is only for those who have need of it. What we
really want is strength enough to carry us through our daily rounds with
comfort and _a feeling of efficiency_.
In a sense we all live by our wits and these decline when not properly
fed by our general physical organization. Prize fighters are not the
longest lived people, nor are the professional athletes. Their calling
requires extra building up which would be a positive handicap to the
average man whose manner of life doesn't require this super-development.
In other words, there are intemperate methods of exercising just as
there are of eating and drinking. We may easily go too far. Again, we
can sin just as greatly by not going far enough. There was a time when
men of forty were as worn and old as men of sixty-five and seventy are
today. As a matter of fact, nowadays a half-century mark is no longer a
badge of senility when a man has kept himself fit and treated himself
We all have friends who are pretty well along in years by virtue of
their carefully planned physical training, plus their _cheerful
dispositions_. They are as sprightly and companionable as though they
were many years younger. We should come to know early in life what a
large part _good humor_ plays in _physical fitness_. In previous
chapters hearty laughter was extolled as one of the very best of
exercises. It is an organizer in itself and opens up the heart and lungs
as nothing else will do. It makes the blood go galloping all through the
system. It is one of the best automatic _blood circulators_ in the
Laughter takes the stress off of the mind, and whatever is ahead of us
for the day that seems likely to become a burden is soon turned into an
ordinary circumstance. We smile as we go about doing it.
A friend once said to a banker:
"How do you know when to lend money?"
The banker replied:
"I look a man in the eye and then _I do or I don't_."
The friend said:
"I would like to borrow ten thousand dollars--now!"
"You shall have it, Sir," the banker replied.
This meant that the man who asked for the loan was in a state of
physical and mental preparedness. If he had gone into the banker's
office looking like an animated tombstone he wouldn't have had much of a
chance to borrow the ten thousand. It goes without saying that the
open-faced, hearty fellow inspires confidence. There is nothing coming
to the dried-up, sour chap, and that's what he usually gets. And what we
get is largely a matter of our physical well being. A modern philosopher
observed that "the blues are the product of bad livers"--and there is no
doubt but that he was right.
The problem of life is to fill our days with sunshine. In so doing we
shall find that the "little graces" are those which will lend us the
most help. Tiny favors extended, words of encouragement, courtesies of
all sorts, unselfish work carried out in an open manner, true
friendships and love, a hearty laugh, a sincere appreciation of the
other fellow's struggle to keep his head above water, the conscientious
carrying out of all tasks assigned us--these are our helpmates and they
are the products of our physical and mental equipment. Through these we
come into our knack of detecting friends among those who are _the salt
of the earth_.
It is impossible for the person who desires good health to obtain it, or
having it, to retain it, without consistent effort. A watch will not run
without the proper regulation of the mainspring. We must keep up our
activities. We have taken the earth and are turning it into something to
serve us--therefore the need of fine bodily preparedness. Nothing can
take the place of achievement and it comes through physical and mental
efficiency. The one must not be neglected for the other; both must be
cultivated and developed alike in order that each may help the other.
Happiness comes only to those who take care of themselves. It is the
natural product of _clean-mindedness_. No pleasure can surpass that of a
conscious feeling of our strength of character. It is an all important
element in men who aspire to succeed. The man who rises in the morning
from a healthy slumber and plunges into the bath after some vigorous
exercise is prepared to undertake anything. His world seems fair, and
though the sun may not be shining literally, it is to all intents and
purposes. Thus, we go swinging along with a cheery smile, carrying the
message of hope and joy to all those with whom we come in contact. Oh!
it's fine to be physically and mentally fit!
SELF-INDULGENCE AND FAILURE
The correct definition of self-indulgence is _failure_--because
self-indulgence is comprised of an aggregation of vices, large and
small, and failure is the logical sequence thereof. Even the habit of
eating may be cultivated into a vice. Indeed, there are those who gorge
without restraint, which in itself is unchaste and immoral. We've often
seen them as, with napkin under foot or tucked under the collar, they
eat their way through mountains of food and wash it down as they reach
No use to say how and what we feel when we attend such performances. It
is all right to say "Look the Other Way," _but it can't be done_. It is
human nature to gaze upon horror--sometimes in sympathy, but more often
in amazement. Sometimes a well staged scene of gormandizing viewed from
a seat in the second or third row center of a softly lighted, thick
carpeted food emporium _saves us the price of our own meal_. We no
longer hunger on our own account. Our appetite is appeased by proxy, so
to speak, and we calmly fix our eyes on the "big show" and _sigh for a
No wonder a noted bachelor of medicine declares "People are what they
eat!" The exclamation point is our own. We quite agree with our medical
brother for we have seen people eat until we thought _we_ would never be
But there is more to self-indulgence than the food specialist has to
answer for, so we will be on our way. For instance, there is _the
spendthrift_; surely he is entitled to a short stanza. We all know him.
He goes on the theory that he has all the spending money in the world,
and that long after he is dead those on whom he spent it will remember
his generosity. Vain hope!--Whatever memory of him remains will be of a
different kind. Those who have been bored by his gratuitous attentions
will take up the threads of their existence where they left off when he
drove them away from their usual haunts. No longer will they have to
dodge down alleys and run up strange stairways in an effort to avoid his
[Illustration: _Douglas Fairbanks in "The Good Bad-Man"_]
When alive and in full operation he knew more about what was best for us
than we could possibly think of knowing. Left to his own devices he
would have us smoke his particular brands, drink his labels, eat his
selections, wear his kind of a cravat, overcoat, cap, hat, shoes, and
underwear. And to make his proposition sound business like he would
willingly pay the bills! In this little amusement we are supposed to
play the part of receiver and _praise his generosity_.
Whatever may be our verdict on this chap we must keep in mind that his
inordinate desire to waste his substance was no less than a vice if for
no other reason than its example upon others; it is just as bad to be _a
"receiver"_ as it is to be _a spendthrift_. If we cannot build up a
reputation for generosity without becoming ostentatious we might better
take lessons in refinement from someone "to the manor born."
There is no desire to single out and set down by name and number every
sort of self-indulgence. _Excesses of any kind are indulgences_, and it
is easy to fall into them if we have not built up our stamina to resist.
Our failures are usually traceable to ourselves. No matter what excuses
may be offered in our behalf we know in our own minds that we are to
blame. Somewhere along the line of our endeavors we faltered--_then we
fell_. Our conservatism reinforced by our strength of character finally
gave way at a given point and put the whole plant out of business. Our
system of inspection had become cursory instead of painstaking.
Everything had been running along so smoothly we forgot that everything
_must_ wear out in time if it isn't looked after properly.
A previous chapter entitled, "Taking Stock of Ourselves," has a specific
bearing upon the subject in hand. It emphasizes the necessity of taking
stock of ourselves early in life in order that we may know our weak
spots and take immediate steps to dig them out by the roots and replace
them with "_hardy perennials_" which thrive on and on unto the last day.
And that reminds us that it is well to take stock of ourselves every
little while. Even "hardy perennials" have to be looked after--the
ground kept fertile and watered against the draughts of forgetfulness
and neglect. And so it must be with our mental and physical processes in
order that each day of our lives we may go forth with renewed
forcefulness--with every atom of character in full working order.
Having started off on the right foot, we are less likely to have trouble
with our higher resolves during the lean and hungry years of our youth
when we go plunging headlong toward the goal of our ambitions. Usually
it is not until we come into "Easy Street" that we find that we dropped
something somewhere along the line which we must replace at once or we
will be laid up for repairs. But lo and behold! "Easy Street" is fair to
look upon. It dazzles the eye--it takes hold of the sensibilities.
Everybody wears "Sunday clothes" on this street and seems to be
superlatively happy. Surely it wouldn't hurt to linger awhile and see
what is going on. Why, this is the most talked about street in the
world! Some of the people we have dealt with have told us about it. They
said it was _the only street_ for a man of means, for there could be
found the very things for which we strive in life. They told us that the
people we would meet represented the higher order of intelligence,
brainy, alert, accomplished--a grand thoroughfare for those who would
know life in the fullness thereof.
Now it is a fact that "Easy Street" may be crossed and recrossed in
safety every day of our lives if we do not tarry. Financial competence
might permit of it, but competent efficiency demands that we trot
along--_keep moving_--get away before we settle down into its ways. The
action we need is not along this brilliant lane.
But suppose we do take a chance just to test the serene confidence which
we think is so safely nailed down within us. The very thought of it
makes the "caution bell" tinkle in our ears--but caution is a species of
cowardice, after all, we say--a man of _courage_ may dare anything
_once_. And just at the moment we waver who comes along but our old
friend _Self-indulgence_!--the well dressed, carefree fellow who once
told us all about "Easy Street" and invited us to look in on him
sometime. Nothing would please him more than to show us the whole
works--and here he is shaking us by the hand and pulling us along--for
he is an affable fellow and will not take "no" for an answer.
Our struggle is feeble--a huge chunk of our strength of character falls
off into space then and there. Even at the gilded entrance we try again
to beg off--to slip away--but Self-indulgence will not hear. So together
we go through the portals leading into a grandeur we had never
known--beyond our experience and power to believe. _This is likely to
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