Quit Your Worrying!
George Wharton James
Part 3 out of 3
Some forms of ambition are sure and certain developers and feeders of
worry and fretful distress, and should be guarded against with jealous
care. We hear a great deal from our physicians of the germs of disease
that seize upon us and infect our whole being, but not all the disease
germs that ever infected a race are so demoralizing to one's peace and
joy as are the germs of such deadly mental diseases as those of envy,
malice, covetousness, ambition, and the like. Ambition, like wine, is
a mocker. It is a vain deluder of men. It takes an elevated position
and beckons to you to rise, that you may be seen and flattered of men.
It does not say: "Gain strength and power, wisdom and virtue, so that
men will place you upon the pedestal of their veneration, respect,
and love," but it bids you seize the "spotlight" and hold it, and no
sooner are you there than it begins to pester you, as with a hundred
thousand hornets, flying around and stinging you, with doubts and
questionings as to whether your fellows see you in this elevated
place, whether they really discern your worth, your beauty, your
shining qualities; and, furthermore, it quickens your hearing, and
bids you strain to listen to what they say about you, and as you do
so, you are pricked, stabbed, wounded by their slighting and jeering
remarks, their scornful comments upon your impertinent and impudent
arrogance at daring to take such a place, and their open denial of
your possession of any of the qualities which would entitle you to so
honored a position in the eyes of men.
Then, too, it must be recalled that, when fired with the desires of
this mocker, ambition, one is inclined, in his selfish absorption, to
be ruthless in his dealings with others. It is so easy to trample upon
others when a siren is beckoning you to climb higher, and your ears
are eagerly listening to her seductive phrases. With her song in
your ears, you cannot hear the wails of anguish of others, upon whose
rights and life you trample, the manly rebukes of those you wound,
or the stern remonstrances of those who bid you heed your course.
Ambition blinds and deafens, and, alas, calluses the heart, kills
comradeship, drives away friendship in its eager selfishness, and in
so doing, lets in a flood of worries that ever beset its victims. They
may not always be in evidence while there is the momentary triumph of
climbing, but they are there waiting, ready to teeter the pedestal,
whisper of its unsure and unstable condition, call attention to those
who are digging around its foundations, and to the fliers in the air,
who threaten to hurl down bombs and completely destroy it.
Phaeton begged that his father, Phoebus Apollo, allow him to drive
the flaming chariot of day through the heavens, and, in spite of all
warnings and cautions, insisted upon his power and ability. Though
instructed and informed as to the great dangers he evoked, he seized
the reins with delight, stood up in the chariot, and urged on the
snorting steeds to furious speed. Soon conscious of a lighter load
than usual, the steeds dashed on, tossing the chariot as a ship at
sea, and rushed headlong from the traveled road of the middle zone.
The Great and Little Bear were scorched, and the Serpent that coils
around the North Pole was warmed to life. Now filled with fear and
dread, Phaeton lost self-control, and looked repentant to the goal
which he could never reach. The unrestrained steeds dashed hither and
thither among the stars, and reaching the Earth, set fire to trees,
cities, harvests, mountains. The air became hot and lurid. The rivers,
springs, and snowbanks were dried up. The Earth then cried out in her
agony to Jupiter for relief, and he launched a thunderbolt at the now
cowed and broken-hearted driver, which not only struck him from the
seat he had dishonored, but also out of existence.
The old mythologists were no fools. They saw the worries, the dangers,
the sure end of ambition. They wrote their cautions and warnings
against it in this graphic story. Why will men and women, for the sake
of an uncertain and unsure goal, tempt the Fates, and, at the same
time, surely bring upon themselves a thousand unnecessary worries
that sting, nag, taunt, fret, and distress? Far better seek a goal of
certainty, a harbor of sureness, in the doing of kindly deeds, noble
actions, unselfish devotion to the uplift of others. In this mad rush
of ambitious selfishness, such a life aim may _seem_ chimerical, yet
it is the only aim that will reach, attain, endure. For all earthly
fame, ambitious attainment, honor, glory is evanescent and temporary.
Like the wealth of the miser, it must be left behind. There is no
pocket in any shroud yet devised which will convey wealth across the
River of Death, and no man's honors and fame but that fade in the
clear light of the Spirit that shines in the land beyond.
Then, ambitious friend, quit your worrying, readjust your aim, trim
your lamp for another and better guest, live for the uplift of others,
seek to give help and strength to the needy, bring sunshine to the
darkened, give of your abundance of spirit and exuberance to those who
have little or none, and thus will you lay up treasure within your own
soul which will convert hell into heaven, and give you joy forever.
So long as men and women believe that happiness lies in outdistancing,
surpassing their fellows in exterior or material things, they cannot
help but be subjects to worry. To determine to gain a larger fortune
than that possessed by another man is a sure invitation to worry
to enter into possession of one's soul. Who has not seen the vain
struggles, the distress, the worry of unsatisfied ambitions that would
have amounted to nothing had they been gratified? In Women's Clubs--as
well as men's--many a heart-ache is caused because some other woman
gains an office, is elected to a position, is appointed on a committee
you had coveted.
The remedy for this kind of worry is to change the aim of life.
Instead of making position, fame, the attainment of fortune, office, a
fine house, an automobile, the object of existence, make _the doing
of something worthy a noble manhood or womanhood the object of your
ambition_. Strive to make yourself _worthy_ to be the best president
your club has ever had; endeavor to be the finest equipped, mentally,
for the work that is to be done, _whether you are chosen to do it or
not_, and keep on, and on, and still on, finding your joy in the work,
in the benefit it is to yourself, in the power it is storing up within
Then, as sure as the sun shines, the time will come when you will be
chosen to do the needed work. "Your own will come to you." Nothing can
hinder it. It will flow as certainly into your hands as the waters of
the river flow into the sea.
ENVY AND WORRY
Envy is a prolific source of worry. Once allow this demon of unrest
to fasten itself in one's vitals, and worry claims every waking
hour. Envy is that peculiar demon of discontent that cannot see
the abilities, attainments, achievements, or possessions of another
without malicious determination to belittle, deride, make light of, or
absolutely deny their existence, while all the time covetously craving
them for itself. Andrew Tooke pictures Envy as a vile female:
A deadly paleness in her cheek was seen;
Her meager skeleton scarce cased with skin;
Her looks awry; an everlasting scowl
Sits on her brow; her teeth deform'd and foul;
Her breast had gall more than her breast could hold;
Beneath her tongue coats of poison roll'd;
No smile e'er smooth'd her furrow'd brow but those
Which rose from laughing at another's woes;
Her eyes were strangers to the sweets of sleep,
Devouring spite for ever waking keep;
She sees bless'd men with vast success crown'd,
Their joys distract her, and their glories wound;
She kills abroad, herself's consum'd at home,
And her own crimes are her perpetual martyrdom.
Ever watching, with bloodshot eyes, the good things of others, she
hates them for their possessions, longs to possess them herself,
lets her covetousness gnaw hourly at her very vitals, and yet, in
conversation with others, slays with slander, vile innuendo, and
falsehood, the reputation of those whose virtues she covets.
As Robert Pollock wrote of one full of envy:
It was his earnest work and daily toil
With lying tongue, to make the noble seem
Mean as himself.
* * * * *
Whene'er he heard,
As oft he did, of joy and happiness,
And great prosperity, and rising worth,
'Twas like a wave of wormwood o'er his soul
Rolling its bitterness.
Aye! and he drank in great draughts of this bitter flood, holding it
in his mouth, tasting its foul and biting qualities until his whole
being seemed saturated with it, hating it, dreading it, suffering
every moment while doing it, yet enduring it, because of his envy at
the good of others.
Few there are, who, at some time or other in their lives, do not have
a taste, at least, of the stinging bite of envy. Girls are envious of
each other's good looks, clothes, possessions, houses, friends; boys
of the strength, skill, ability, popularity of others; women of other
women, men of other men, just as when they were boys and girls.
One of the strongest words the great Socrates ever wrote was against
envy. He said:
Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of murder and
revenge, the beginner of secret sedition, the perpetual
tormentor of virtue. Envy is the filthy slime of the soul; a
venom, a poison, a quicksilver, which consumeth the flesh, and
drieth up the marrow of the bones.
And history clearly shows that the wise philosopher stated facts.
Caligula slew his brother because he possessed a beauty that led him
to be more esteemed and favored than he. Dionysius, the tyrant, was
vindictive and cruel to Philoxenius, the musician, because he could
sing; and with Plato, the philosopher, because he could dispute,
better than himself. Even the great Cambyses slew his brother,
Smerdis, because he was a stronger and better bowman than himself or
any of his party. It was envy that led the courtiers of Spain to crave
and seek the destruction of Columbus, and envy that set a score of
enemies at the heels of Cortes, the conqueror of Peru.
It is a fearful and vindictive devil, is this devil of envy, and he
who yields to it, who once allows it admittance to the citadel of his
heart, will soon learn that every subsequent waking and even sleeping
moment is one of worry and distress.
DISCONTENT AND WORRY
Closely allied to envy is discontent. These are blood relations, and
both are prolific sources of worry. And lest there are those who
think because I have revealed, in the preceding chapter, the demon of
worry--envy--as one that attacks the minds of the great and mighty, it
does not enter the hearts of everyday people, let me quote, entire, an
article and a poem recently written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in _The Los
Angeles Examiner_. The discontent referred to clearly comes from envy.
Some one has blond tresses, while she has black. This arouses her
envy. She is envious because another's eyes are blue, while hers
are brown; another is tall, while she is small; etc., etc. There is
nothing, indeed, that she cannot weep and worry over:
There is a certain girl I know, a pretty little elf,
Who spends almost her entire thoughts in pity for herself.
Her glossy tresses, raven black, cause her to weep a pond--
She is so sorry for herself because they are not blond.
Her eyes, when dry, are very bright and very brown, 'tis true,
But they are almost always wet, because they are not blue.
She is of medium height, and when she sees one quite tall
She weeps all day in keenest pain because she is so small.
But if she meets some tiny girl whom she considers fair,
Then that she is so big herself she sobs in great despair.
When out upon a promenade her tears she cannot hide,
To think she is obliged to walk while other folks can ride.
But if she drives, why then she weeps--it is so hard to be
Perched stiffly in a carriage seat while other girls run free.
She used to cry herself quite sick to think she had to go
Month after month to dreary schools; that was her constant woe.
But on her graduating day, my, how her tears did run!
It seemed so sorrowful to know that her school life was done.
One day she wept because she saw a funeral train go by--
It was so sad that she must live while other folks could die.
And really all her friends will soon join with her in those tears
Unless she takes a brighter view of life ere many years.
The conceited girl or woman is tiresome and unpleasant as a companion,
but the morbidly discontented woman is far worse. Perhaps you have met
her, with her eternal complaint of the injustice of Fate toward her.
She feels that she is born for better things than have befallen her;
her family does not understand her; her friends misjudge her; the
public slights her.
If she is married she finds herself superior to her husband and to her
associates. She is eternally longing for what she has not, and when
she gets it is dissatisfied.
The sorrowful side of life alone appeals to her.
This she believes is due to her "artistic nature." The injustice of
fortune and the unkindness of society are topics dear to her heart.
She finds her only rapture in misery.
If she is religiously inclined she looks toward Heaven with more grim
satisfaction in the thought that it will strip fame, favor and fortune
from the unworthy than because it will give her the benefits she feels
She does not dream that she is losing years of Heaven here upon earth
by her own mental attitude.
WE BUILD OUR HEAVENS THOUGHT BY THOUGHT.
If you are dwelling upon the dark phases of your destiny and upon the
ungracious acts of Fate, you are shaping more of the same experience
for yourself here and in realms beyond.
You are making happiness impossible for yourself upon any plane. In
your own self lies Destiny.
I have known a woman to keep her entire family despondent for years by
her continual assertions that she was out of her sphere, misunderstood
The minds of sensitive children accepted these statements and grieved
over "Poor Mother's" sad life until their own youth was embittered.
The morbid mother seized upon the sympathies of her children like a
leech and sapped their young lives of joy.
The husband grew discouraged and indifferent under the continual
strain, and what might have been a happy home was a desolate one, and
its memory is a nightmare to the children to-day.
Understand yourself and your Divine possibilities and you will
cease to think you are misunderstood.
It is not possible to misunderstand a beautiful, sunny day.
All nature rejoices in its loveliness.
Give love, cheerfulness, kindness and good-will to all
humanity, and you need not worry about being misunderstood.
Give the best you have to each object, purpose and individual,
and you will eventually receive the best from humanity.
COWARDICE AND WORRY
Cowardice is a much more prolific source of worry than most people
imagine. There are many varieties of cowardice, all tracing their
ancestry back to fear. Fear truly makes cowards of us all. There are
the physical cowards, the social cowards, the business cowards, the
hang-on-to-your-job cowards, the political cowards, the moral cowards,
the religious cowards, and fifty-seven, nay, a hundred and one other
varieties. Each and all of these have their own attendant demons of
worry. Every barking dog becomes a lion ready to tear one to pieces,
and no bridge is strong enough to allow us to pass over in safety. No
cloud has a silver lining, and every rain-storm is sure to work
injury to the crops rather than bring the needful moisture for their
What a piteous sight to see a man who dares not express his honest
opinions, who must crawl instead of walk upright, in the presence of
his employer, lest he lose his job. How his cowardice worries him,
meets him at every turn, torments him, lest some incautious word be
repeated, lest he say or do the wrong thing. And so long as there
are cowards to employ, bully employers will exist. Nay, the cowardice
seems to call out bullying qualities. Just as a cur will follow you
with barkings and threatening growls if you run from him, and yet turn
tail and run when you boldly face him, so with most men, with society,
with the world--flee from them, show your fear of them, and they will
harry you, but boldly face them, they gentle down immediately, fawn
upon you, lie down, or, to use an expressive slang phrase, "come and
eat out of your hand."
How politicians straddle the fence, refrain from expressing their
opinions, deal in glittering generalities, because of their cowardly
fears. How they turn their sails to catch every breath of popular
favor. How cautious, politic, wary, they are, and how fears worry and
besiege them, whenever they accidentally or incidentally say something
that can be interpreted as a positive conviction. And yet men really
love a brave man in political life; one who has definite convictions
and fearlessly states them; who has no worries as to results but dares
to say and do those things only of which his conscience approves. No
matter how one may regard Roosevelt, cowardice is one thing none will
accuse him of. He says his say, does his will, expresses himself with
freedom upon any and all subjects, let results be as they may. Such
a man is free from the petty worries that beset most politicians.
He knows nothing of their existence. They cannot breathe in the free
atmosphere that is essential to his life; like the cowardly cur, they
run away at his approach.
Oh, cowards all, of every kind and degree, quit ye like men, be strong
and of good courage, dare and do, dare and say, dare and be, take a
manly stand, fling out your banner boldly to the breeze, cry out as
did Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty, or give me death," or as that
other patriot did: "Sink or swim, survive or perish, I give my hand
and my heart to this vote." Do the things you are afraid of; dare the
men who make cowards of you; say the things you fear to say; and be
the things you know you ought to be, and it will surprise you how the
petty devils of worry will slink away from you. You will walk in new
life, in new strength, in new joy, in new freedom. For he who lives a
life free from worries of this nature, has a spontaneity, a freedom,
an exuberance, an enthusiasm, a boldness, that not only are winsome in
themselves, make friends, open the doors of opportunity, attract the
moving elements of life, but that give to their possessor an entirely
new outlook, a wider survey, a more comprehensive grasp. Life itself
becomes bigger, grander, more majestic, more worth while, the whole
horizon expands, and from being a creature of petty affairs, dabbling
in a small way in the stuff of which events are made, he becomes a
potent factor, a man, a creator, a god, though in the germ.
WORRY ABOUT MANNERS AND SPEECH
Many people are desperately worried about their manners. One has
but to read the letters written to the "Answers to Correspondents"
departments of the newspapers to see how much worry this subject of
manners causes. This springs, undoubtedly, from a variety of causes.
People brought up in the country, removing to the city, find the
conditions of life very different from those to which they have been
accustomed, and they are _uncertain_ as to what city people regard
as the right and proper things to do. Where one, perforce, must act,
uncertainty is always irritating or worrying, and, because of this
uncertainty, many people worry even before the time comes to act. Now,
if their worry would take a practical and useful turn--or, perhaps, I
had better state it in another way, viz., that if they would spend
the same time in deciding what their course of action should be--there
would be an end put to the worry.
We have all seen such people. They are worried lest their clothes are
not all right for the occasion, lest their tie is of the wrong shade,
their shoes of the correct style, and a thousand and one things that
they seem to conjure up for the especial purpose of worrying over
them. Who has not seen the nervousness, the worried expression on the
face, the real misery of such people, caused by trifles that are so
insignificant as not to be worth one-tenth the bother wasted on them.
The learning of a few fundamental principles will help out
wonderfully. The chief end of "good manners" is to oil the wheels
of social converse. Hence, the first and most important principle to
learn is a due and proper consideration for the rights, opinions, and
comfort of others. In other words, don't think of yourself so much as
of the other fellow. Let your question be, not: How can I secure
my own pleasure and comfort? but How can I best secure his? It is a
self-evident proposition that you cannot make him feel comfortable and
happy if you are uncomfortable and unhappy. Hence, the first thing to
do is to quit worrying and be comfortable. This desired state of mind
will come as soon as you have courageously made up your mind as to
what standard of manners you intend to follow. The world is made up
to-day, largely, of two classes: those who have money, and those who
don't. Of the former class, a certain few set themselves up as the
arbiters of good manners; they decide what shall be called "good
form," and what is not allowable. If you belong to that class, the
best thing you can do is to learn "to play the game their way." Study
their rules of calling cards, and learn whether you leave one, two,
three, or six when you are calling upon a man, or a woman, or both, or
their oldest unmarried daughter, or the rest of the family. This is
a regular game like golf, or polo. You have to know the course, the
tools to use, and the method of going from one goal to another. Now, I
never knew any ordinarily intelligent man or woman who couldn't learn
the names of the tools used in golf, the numbers of the holes, and the
rules of the game. _How_ you play the game is another matter. And so
is it in "good society." You can learn the rules as easily as the next
one, and then it is "up to you" as to _how_ you play it. You'll have
to study the fashions in clothes; the fashions in handkerchiefs, and
how to flirt with them; when to drink tea, and where; how to lose
money gracefully at bridge; how to gabble incessantly and not know
what you are talking about; how to listen "intelligently" and not have
the remotest idea what your _vis-a-vis_ is saying to you; you'll have
to join 'steen clubs, and read ten new novels a day; go to every new
play; know all about the latest movies; know all the latest ideas
of social uplift, study art, the spiritual essence of color, the
futurists, and the cubists. Of course, you'll study the peerage of
England and know all about rank and precedence--and, indeed, you'll
have your hands and mind so full of things that will make such a hash
of life that it will take ten specialists to straighten you out and
help you to die forty years before your time. Hence, if that is the
life you intend to live, throw this book into the fire. It will be
wasting your time to read it.
If you don't belong to the class of the extra rich, but are all the
time wishing that you did; that you had their money, could live as
they live, and, as far as you can, you imitate, copy, and follow
them, then, again, I recommend that you give this book to the nearest
newsboy and let him sell it and get some good out of it. You are not
yet ready for it, or else you have gone so far beyond me in life, that
you are out of my reach.
If, on the other hand, you belong to the class of _workers_, those who
have to earn their living and wish to spend their lives intelligently
and usefully, you can well afford to disregard--after you have learned
to apply the few basic principles of social converse--the whims, the
caprices, the artificial code set up by the so-called arbiters of
fashion, manners, and "good form," which are not formulated for
the promotion of intelligent intercourse between real manhood and
womanhood, but for the preservation and strengthening of the barriers
of wealth and caste.
Connected with this phase of the subject is a consideration of those
who are worried lest in word or action, they fail in gentility. They
are afraid to do anything lest it should not be regarded as genteel.
When they shake hands, it must be done not so much with hearty,
friendly spontaneity, but with gentility, and you wonder what that
faint touch of fingers, reached high in air, means. They would be
mortified beyond measure if they failed to observe any of the little
gentilities of life, while the larger consideration of their visitor's
disregard of the matter, would entirely escape them. To such people,
social intercourse is a perpetual worry and bugbear. They are on the
watch every moment, and if a visitor fails to say, "Pardon me," at the
proper place, or stands with his back to his hostess for a moment, or
does any other of the things that natural men and women often do, they
Then it would be amusing, were it not pathetic, to see how particular
they are about their speech--_what_ they say, and _how_ they say it.
As Dr. Palmer has tersely said: "We are terrorized by custom, and
inclined to adjust what we would say to what others have said before,"
and he might have added: It must be said in the same manner.
I cannot help asking why men and women should be terrorized by
custom--the method followed or prescribed by other men and women. Why
be so afraid of others; why so anxious to "kow-tow" to the standards
of others? Who are they? What are they, that they should demand the
reverent following of the world? Have you anything to say? Have you
a right to say it? Is it wise to say it? Then, in the name of God, of
manhood, of common sense, say it, directly, positively, assertively,
as is your right, remembering the assurance of the Declaration of
Independence that "all men are created equal." Don't worry about
whether you are saying it in the genteel fashion of some one else's
standard. Make your own standard. Even the standards of the grammar
books and dictionaries are not equal to that of a man who has
something to say and says it forcefully, truthfully, pointedly,
directly. Dr. Palmer has a few words to say on this phase of the
subject, which are well worthy serious consideration: "The cure for
the first of these troubles is to keep our eyes on our object, instead
of on our listener or ourselves; and for the second, to learn to rate
the expressiveness of language more highly than its compeers.
The opposite of this, the disposition to set correctness above
expressiveness, produces that peculiarly vulgar diction, known as
"school-ma'am English," in which for the sake of a dull accord with
usage, all the picturesque, imaginative, and forceful employment of
words is sacrificed."
There you have it! If you have something to say that really means
something, think of that, rather than of the way of saying it, your
hearer, or yourself. Thus you will lose your self-consciousness, your
dread, your fear, your worry. If your thought is worth anything,
you can afford to laugh at some small violation of grammar, or the
knocking over of some finical standard or other. Not that I would be
thought to advocate either carelessness, laziness, or indifference in
speech. Quite the contrary, as all who have heard me speak well know.
But I fully believe that _thought_ is of greater importance than _form
of expression_. And, as for grammar, I believe with Thomas Jefferson,
that "whenever, by small grammatical negligences, the energy of your
ideas can be condensed or a word be made to stand for a sentence, I
hold grammatical rigor in contempt."
I was present once when Thomas Carlyle and a technical grammarian
were talking over some violation of correct speech--according to the
latter's standard--when Carlyle suddenly burst forth in effect, in his
rich Scotch burr: "Why, mon, I'd have ye ken that I'm one of the men
that make the language for little puppies like ye to paw over with
your little, fiddling, twiddling grammars!"
By all means, know all the grammar you can. Read the best of poets and
prose authors to see how they have mastered the language, but don't
allow your life to become a burden to you and others because of your
worry lest you "slip a grammatical cog" here and there, when you know
you have something worth saying. And if you haven't anything worth
saying, please, please, keep your mouth shut, no matter what the
genteel books prescribe, for nothing can justify the talk of an
empty-headed fool who will insist upon talking when he and his
listeners know he has nothing whatever to say. So, if you must worry,
let it be about something worth while--getting hold of ideas, the
strength of your thought, the power of your emotion, the irresistible
sweep of your enthusiasm, the forcefulness of your indignation about
wrong. These are things it is worth while to set your mind upon, and
when you have decided what you ought to say, and are absorbed with
the power of its thought, the need the world has for it, you will care
little about the exact form of your words. Like the flood of a mighty
stream, they will pour forth, carrying conviction with them, and to
convince your hearer of some powerful truth is an object worthy the
highest endeavor of a godlike man or woman--surely a far different
object than worrying as to whether the words or method of expression
meet some absurd standard of what is conceived to be "gentility."
Congressman Hobson, of Merrimac fame, and Ex-President Roosevelt are
both wonderful illustrations of the point I am endeavoring to impress
upon my readers. I heard Hobson when, in Philadelphia, at a public
dinner given in his honor, he made his first speech after his return
from Cuba. It was evident that he had been, and was, much worried
about what he should say, and the result was everybody else was
worried as he tried to say it. His address was a pitiable failure,
mainly because he had little or nothing to say, and yet tried to make
a speech. Later he entered Congress, began to feel intensely upon the
subjects of national defense and prohibition of the alcoholic liquor
traffic. A year or so ago I heard him speak on the latter of these
subjects. Here, now, was an entirely different man. He was possesed
with a great idea. He was no longer trying to find something to say,
but in a powerful, earnest, and enthusiastic way, he poured forth
facts, figures, argument, and illustration, that could not fail to
convince an open mind, and profoundly impress even the prejudiced.
It was the same with Roosevelt. When he first began to speak in
public, it was hard work. He wrote his addresses beforehand, and then
read them. Perhaps he does now, for aught I know to the contrary, but
I do know that now that he is full of the subjects of national honor
in dealing with such cases as Mexico, Belgium, and Armenia, and our
preparedness to sacrifice life itself rather than honor, his words
pour forth in a perfect Niagara of strong, robust, manly argument,
protest, and remonstrance, which gives one food for deep thought no
matter how much he may differ.
There are those who worry about the "gentility" of others. I remember
when Charles Wagner, the author of _The Simple Life_, was in this
country. We were dining at the home of a friend and one of these
super-sensitive, finical sticklers for gentility was present. Wagner
was speaking in his big, these super-sensitive, finical sticklers for
gentility simple, primitive way of a man brought up as a peasant,
and more concerned about what he was thinking than whether his "table
manners" conformed to the latest standard. There was some gravy on his
plate. He wanted it. He took a piece of bread and used it as a sop,
and then, impaling the gravy-soaked bread on his fork, he conveyed it
to his mouth with gusto and relish. My "genteel" friend commented upon
it afterwards as "disgusting," and lost all interest in the man and
his work as a consequence.
To my mind, the criticism was that of a fool.
John Muir, the eminent poet-naturalist of the _Mountains of
California_, had a habit at the table of "crumming" his bread--that
is, toying with it, until it crumbled to pieces in his hand. He
would, at the same time, be sending out a steady stream of the most
entertaining, interesting, fascinating, and instructive lore about
birds and beasts, trees and flowers, glaciers and rocks, that one
ever listened to. In his mental occupancy, he knew not whether he was
eating his soup with a fork or an ice-cream spoon--and cares less.
Neither did any one else with brains and an awakened mind that soared
above mere conventional manners. And yet I once had an Eastern woman
of great wealth, (recently acquired), and of great pretensions to
social "manners," at whose table Muir had eaten, inform me that she
regarded him as a rude boor, because, forsooth, he was unmindful
of these trivial and unimportant conventions when engaged in
Now, neither Wagner nor Muir would justify any advocacy on my part of
neglect of true consideration, courtesy, or good manners. But where
is the "lack of breeding" in sopping up gravy with a piece of bread or
"crumming," or eating soup with a spoon of one shape or another? These
are purely arbitrary rules, laid down by people who have more time
than sense, money than brains, and who, as I have elsewhere remarked,
are far more anxious to preserve the barand unimportant conventions
when engaged in conive realization of the biblical idea of the
"brotherhood of man."
THE WORRIES OF JEALOUSY
A prolific source of worry is jealousy; not only the jealousy that
exists between men and women, but that exists between women and women,
and between men and men. There are a thousand forms that this hideous
monster of evil assumes, and when they have been catalogued and
classified, another thousand will be found awaiting, around the
corner, of entirely different categories. But all alike they have
one definite origin, one source, one cause. And that cause, I am
convinced, is selfishness. We wish to own, to dominate, to control,
absolutely, entirely, for our own pleasure, and satisfaction, that of
which we are jealous. In Chapter One I tell the incident of the young
man on the street car whose jealous worry was so manifest when he
saw his "girl" smiling upon another man. I suppose most men and women
feel, or have felt, at some time or other, this sex jealousy. That
woman belongs to _me_, her smiles are _mine_, her pleasant words
should fall on _my_ ear alone; _I_ am her lover, she, the mistress of
_my_ heart; and that should content her.
Every writer of the human heart has expatiated upon this great source
of worry--jealousy. Shakspere refers to it again and again. The whole
play of _Othello_ rests upon the Moor's jealousy of his fair, sweet,
and loyally faithful Desdemona. How the fiendish Iago plays upon
Othello's jealous heart until one sees that:
Trifles, light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.
Iago bitterly resents a slight he feels Othello has put upon him. With
his large, generous, unsuspicious nature, Othello never dreams of such
a thing; he trusts Iago as his intimate friend, and thus gives the
crafty fiend the oportunity he desires to
put the Moor
Into a jealousy so strong
That judgment cannot cure ...
Make the Moor thank me, love me, reward me,
For making him egregiously an ass
And practicing upon his peace and quiet
Even to madness.
Othello gives his wife, Desdemona, a rare handkerchief. Iago urges his
own wife, who is Desdemona's maid, to pilfer this and bring it to him.
When he gets it, he leaves it in Cassio's room. Cassio was an intimate
friend of Othello's, one, indeed, who had gone with him when he went
to woo Desdemona, and who, by Iago's machinations, had been suspended
from his office of Othello's chief lieutenant. To provoke Othello's
jealousy Iago now urges Desdemona to plead Cassio's cause with her
husband, and at the came time eggs on Othello to watch Cassio:
Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio;
Wear your eye thus, not jealous nor secure.
I would not have your free and noble nature
Out of self-bounty be abus'd; look to 't.
Thus he works Othello up to a rage, and yet all the time pretends to
be holding him back:
I do see you're mov'd;
I pray you not to strain my speech
To grosser issues nor to larger reach
Than to suspicion.
Iago leaves the handkerchief in Cassio's room, at the same time
The Moor already changes with my poison;
Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But with a little act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulphur.
And as he sees the tortures the jealous worries of the Moor have
already produced in him, he exultingly yet stealthily rejoices:
Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou hadst yesterday.
Well might Othello exclaim that he is "Set on the rack." Each new
suspicion is a fresh pull of the lever, a tightening of the strain
to breaking point, and soon his jealousy turns to the fierce and
murderous anger Iago hoped it would:
Like to the Pontic sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne'er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne'er look back, ne'er ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up.
Thus was he urged on, worried by his jealousy, until, in his bloody
rage, he slew his faithful wife. Poor Desdemona, we weep her fate, yet
at the same time we should deeply lament that Othello was so beguiled
and seduced by his jealousy to so horrible a deed. And few men or
women there are, unless their souls are purified by the wisdom of God,
that are not liable to jealous influences. Our human nature is weak
and full of subtle treacheries, that, like Iago, seduce us to our own
undoing. He who yields for one moment to the worries of jealousy
is already on the downward path that leads to misery, woe and deep
undoing, Iago is made to declare the philosophy of this fact, when, in
the early portion of the play he says to Roderigo:
'Tis in ourselves we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our
gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if
we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up
thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with
many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with
industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies
in our wills.
Therein, surely, is great truth. We can plant or weed up, in the
garden of our minds, whatever we will; we can "have it sterile
with idleness," or fertilize it with industry, and it must ever be
remembered that the more fertile the soil the more evil weeds will
grow apace if we water and tend them. Our jealous worries are the
poisonous weeds of life's garden and should be rooted out instanter,
and kept out, until not a sign of them can again be found.
Solomon sang that "jealousy is as cruel as the grave; the coals
thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."
What a graphic picture of worry--a fire of vehement flame, burning,
scorching, destroying peace, happiness, content, joy and reducing them
In my travel and observation I have found a vast amount of jealous
worry in institutions of one kind and another--such as the Indian
Service, in reform schools, in humane societies, in hospitals, among
the nurses, etc. It seems to be one of the misfortunes of weak human
nature when men and women associate themselves together to do some
work which ought to call out all the nobleness, the magnanimity, the
godlike qualities of their souls, they become maggoty with jealous
worries--worry that they are not accorded the honor that is their
due; worry that _their_ work is not properly appreciated; worry lest
someone else becomes a favorite of the Superintendent, etc., etc.,
etc., _ad libitum_. Worries of this nature in every case, are a proof
of small, or undeveloped, natures. No truly great man or woman can
be jealous. Jealousy implies that you are not sure of your own worth,
ability, power. You find someone else is being appreciated, you
_covet_ that appreciation for yourself, whether you deserve it or not.
In other words you yield to accursed selfishness, utterly forgetful of
the apostolic injunction: "In honor preferring one another."
And the same jealousies are found among men and women in every walk of
life, in trade, in the office, among professors in schools, colleges,
universities; in the learned professions, among lawyers, physicians
and even among the ministers of the gospel, and judges upon the bench.
Oh! shame! shame! upon the littleness, the meanness, the paltriness
of such jealousies; of the worries that come from them. How any human
being is to be pitied whose mortal mind is corroded with the biting
acid of jealous worry. When I see those who are full of worry because
yielding to this demon of jealousy I am almost inclined to believe
in the old-time Presbyterian doctrine of "total depravity." Whenever,
where-ever, you find yourself feeling jealous, take yourself by the
throat (figuratively), and strangle the feeling, then go and frankly
congratulate the person of whom you are jealous upon some good you can
truthfully say you see in him; spread his praises abroad; seek to do
him honor. Thus by active work against your own paltry emotion you
will soon overcome it and be free from its damning and damnable
Akin to the worries of jealousy are the worries of hate. How much
worry hate causes the hater, he alone can tell. He spends hours in
conjuring up more reasons for his hate than he would care to write
down. Every success of the hated is another stimulant to worry, and
each step forward is a sting full of pain and bitterness.
He who hates walks along the path of worry, and so long as he hates he
must worry. Hence, there is but one practical way of escape from the
worries of hatred, viz., by ceasing to hate, by overcoming evil with
THE WORRIES OF SUSPICION
He who has a suspicious mind is ever the prey of worry. Such an one is
to be pitied for he is tossed hither and yon, to and fro, at the whim
of every breath of suspicion he breathes. He has no real peace of
mind, no content, no unalloyed joy, for even in his hours of pleasure,
of recreation, of expected jollity he is worrying lest someone is
trying to get ahead of him, his _vis-a-vis_ is "jollying" him, his
partner at golf is trying to steal a march on him, he is not being
properly served at the picnic, etc.
These suspicious-minded people are sure that every man is a scoundrel
at heart--more or less--and needs to be watched; no man or woman is to
be trusted; every grocer will sand his sugar, chicory his coffee, sell
butterine for butter, and cold-storage eggs for fresh if he gets a
chance. To accept the word of a stranger is absurd, as it is also
to believe in the disinterestedness of a politician, reformer,
office-holder, a corporation, or a rich man. But to believe evil,
to expect to be swindled, or prepare to be deceived is the height
of perspicacity and wisdom. How wonderfully Shakspere in _Othello_
portrays the wretchedness of the suspicious man. One reason why Iago
so hated the Moor was that he suspected him:
the thoughts whereof
Doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards,
And nothing can or shall content my soul
Till I am even'd with him.
How graphic the simile, "gnaw my inwards;" it is the perpetual symbol
of worry; the poisonous mineral ever biting away the lining of the
stomach; just as mice and rats gnaw at the backs of the most precious
books and destroy them; aye, as they gnaw during the night-time and
drive sleep away from the weary, so does suspicion gnaw with its sharp
worrying teeth to the destruction of peace, happiness and joy.
Then, when Iago has poisoned Othello's mind with suspicions about his
wife, how the Moor is worried, gnawed by them:
By heaven, he echoes me,
As if there were some monster in his thought
Too hideous to be shown--(To Iago) Thou dost mean something.
I heard thee say even now, thou lik'dst not that,
When Cassio left my wife; what didst not like?
And when I told thee he was of my counsel
In my whole course of wooing, thou criedst 'Indeed!'
And didst contract and purse thy brow together,
As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain
Some horrible conceit. If thou dost love me,
Show me thy thought.
And then we know, how, with crafty, devilish cunning, Iago plays upon
these suspicions, fans their spark into flames. He pretends to be
doing it purely on Othello's account and accuses himself that:
it is my nature's plague
To spy into abuses, and yet my jealousy
Shapes faults that are not:
and then cries out:
O beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
Who certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!
There, indeed, the woe of the suspicious is shown. His minutes are
really "damned;" peace flies his heart, rest from his couch, sanity
from his throne, and, _yielding_ himself, he becomes filled with
murderous anger and imperils his salvation here and hereafter.
THE WORRIES OF IMPATIENCE
How many of our worries come from impatience? We do not want to wait
until the fruition of our endeavors comes naturally, until the time is
ripe, until we are ready for that which we desire. We wish to
overrule conditions which are beyond our power; we fail to accept
the inevitable with a good grace; we refuse to believe in our
circumscriptions, our limitations, and in our arrogance and pride
express our anger, our indignation, our impatience.
I have seen people whose auto has broken down, worried fearfully
because they would not arrive somewhere as they planned, and in their
impatient fretfulness they annoyed, angered, and upset all around
them, without, in one single degree, improving their own condition
or hastening the repair of the disaster. What folly; what more than
A child may be excused for its impatience and petulance for it has not
yet learned the inevitable facts of life--such as that breaks must be
repaired, tires must be made so that they will not leak, and that the
gasoline tank cannot be empty if the machine is to run. But a man, a
woman, is supposed to have learned these incontrovertible facts, and
should, at the same time, have learned acquiesence in them.
A train is delayed; one has an important engagement; worry seems
inevitable and excusable. But is it? Where is the use? Will it replace
the destroyed bridge, renew the washed out track, repair the broken
engine? How much better to submit to the inevitable with graceful
acceptance of the fact, than to fret, stew, worry, and at the same
time, irritate everyone around you.
How serenely Nature rebukes the impatience of the fretful worrier. A
man plants corn, wheat, barley, potatoes--or trees, that take five,
seven years to come to bearing, such as the orange, olive, walnut,
date, etc. Let him fret ever so much, worry all he likes, chafe and
fret every hour; let him go and dig up his seeds or plants to urge
their upgrowing; let him even swear in his impatient worry and
threaten to smash all his machinery, discharge his men, and turn
his stock loose; Nature goes on her way, quietly, unmoved, serenely,
unhurried, undisturbed by the folly of the one creature of earth who
is so senseless as to worry--viz., man.
Many a man's hair has turned gray, and many a woman's brow and
cheeks have become furrowed because of fretful, impatient worry over
something that could not be changed, or hastened, or improved.
My conception of life is that manhood, womanhood, should rise superior
to any and all conditions and circumstances. Whatever happens, Spirit
should be supreme, superior, in control. And until we learn that
lesson, life, so far, has failed. Inasmuch as we do learn it, life has
become a success.
THE WORRIES OF ANTICIPATION
He crosses every bridge before he comes to it, is a graphic and
proverbial rendering of a description of the man who worries in
anticipation. Something, sure, is going to happen. He is always
fearful, not of what is, but of what is going to be. For twenty years
he has managed to live and pay his rent, but at the beginning of each
month he begins afresh to worry where "next month's rent is going
to come from." He's collected his bills fairly well for a business
life-time, but if a debtor fails to send in his check on the very day
he begins to worry and fear lest he fail to receive it. His wife has
given him four children, but at the coming of the fifth he is sure
something extraordinarily painful and adverse is going to happen.
He sees--possibly, here, I should say, _she_ sees--their son climbing
a tree. She is sure he will fall and break a leg, an arm, or his neck.
Her boy mustn't ride the horse lest he fall and injure himself; if he
goes to swim he is surely in danger of being drowned, and she could
never allow him or his sister to row in a boat lest it be overturned.
The child must be watched momentarily, lest it fall out of the window,
search out a sharp knife, swallow poison, or do some irreparable
damage to the bric-a-brac.
Here let me relate an incident the truth of which is vouched for, and
which clearly illustrates the difference between the attitude of worry
and that of trust. One day, when Flattich, a pious minister of the
Wurtemberg, was seated in his armchair, one of his foster children
fell out of a second-story window, right before him, to the pavement
below. He calmly ordered his daughter to go and bring up the child.
On doing so it was found the little one had sustained no injury.
A neighbor, however, aroused by the noise, came in and reproached
Flattich for his carelessness and inattention. While she was thus
remonstrating, her own child, which she had brought with her, fell
from the bench upon which she had seated it, and broke its arm. "Do
you see, good woman," said the minister, "if you imagine yourself to
be the sole guardian of your child, then you must constantly carry it
in your arms. I commend my children to God; and even though they then
fall, they are safer than were I to devote my whole time and attention
Those who anticipate evils for their children too often seem to bring
down upon their loved ones the very evils they are afraid of. And one
of the greatest lessons of life, and one that brings immeasurable
and uncountable joys when learned, is, that Nature--the great
Father-Mother of us all--is kindly disposed to us. We need not be so
alarmed, so fearful, so anticipatory of evil at her hands.
Charles Warren Stoddard used to tell of the great dread Mark Twain was
wont to feel, during the exhaustion and reaction he felt at the close
of each of his lectures, lest he should become incapable of further
writing and lecturing and therefore become dependent upon his friends
and die a pauper. How wonderfully he conquered this demon of perpetual
worry all those who know his life are aware; how that, when his
publisher failed he took upon himself a heavy financial burden, for
which he was in no way responsible, went on a lecture tour around the
world and paid every cent of it, and finally died with his finances in
a most prosperous condition.
The anticipatory worries of others are just as senseless, foolish and
absurd as were those of Mark Twain, and it is possible for every man
to overcome them, even as did he.
The cloud we anticipate seldom, if ever, comes, and then, generally,
in a different direction from where we sought it. Time spent on
looking for the cloud, and figuring how much of injury it will do
us had better be utilized in garnering the hay crop, bringing in the
lambs, or hauling warm fodder and bedding for them.
There is another side, however, to this worrying anticipation of
troubles. The ancient philosophers recognized it. Lucan wrote: "The
very fear of approaching evil has driven many into peril."
There are those who believe that the very concentration of thought
upon a possible evil will bring to pass the peculiar arrangement of
circumstances that makes the evil. Of this belief I am not competent
to speak, but I am fully assured that it is far from helpful to be
contemplating the possibility of evil. In my own life I have found
that worrying over evils in anticipation has not prevented their
coming, and, on the other hand, that where I have boldly faced the
situation, without fear and its attendant worries, the evil has fled.
Hence, whether worries in hand, or worries to come, worries real or
worries imaginary, the wise, sane and practical course is to kill them
all and thus _Quit Your Worrying_.
HOW OUR WORRY AFFECTS OTHERS
If worry affected merely ourselves it would be bad enough, but we
could tolerate it more than we do. For it is one of the infernal
characteristics of worry that our manifestation of it invariably
affects others as injuriously as it affects ourselves.
An employer who worries his employees never gets the good work out
of them as does the one who has sense enough to keep them happy,
good-natured and contented. I was lecturing once for a large
corporation. I had two colleagues, who "spelled me" every hour. For
much of the time we had no place to rest, work or play between our
lectures. Our engagement lasted the better part of a year, and the
result was that, during that period where our reasonable needs were
unprovided for, we all failed to give as good work as we were capable
of. We were unnecessarily worried by inadequate provision and our
employers suffered. Henry Ford, and men of his type have learned this
lesson. Men respond rapidly to those who do not worry them. Governor
Hunt and Warden Sims, of Arizona, have learned the same fact in
dealing with prisoners of the State Penitentiary. The less the men
are "worried" by unnecessarily harsh treatment, absurd and cruel
restrictions, curtailment of natural rights, the better they act, the
easier they are liable to reform and make good.
Dr. Musgrove to his _Nervous Breakdowns_, tells a story of two
commanders which well illustrates this point:
In a certain war two companies of men had to march an equal
distance in order to meet at a particular spot. The one
arrived in perfect order, and with few signs of exhaustion,
although the march had been an arduous one. The other company
reached the place utterly done up and disorganised. It was all
a question of leadership; the captain of the first company
had known his way and kept his men in good order, while the
captain of the second company had never been sure of himself,
and had harassed his subordinates with a constant succession
of orders and counter-orders, until they had hardly known
whether they were on their heads or their heels. That was why
they arrived completely demoralised.
In war, as in peace, it is not work that kills so much as worry.
A general may make his soldiers work to the point of exhaustion as
Napoleon often did, yet have their almost adoring worship. But the
general who worries his men gets neither their good will nor good
A worrying mother can keep a whole house in a turmoil, from father
down to the latest baby. The growing boys and girls soon learn to
dread the name of "home," and would rather be in school, in the
backyard playing, in the attic, at the neighbors, or in the streets,
anywhere, than within the sound of their mother's worrying voice,
or frowning countenance. A worrying husband can drive his wife
distracted, and vice versa. I was dining not long ago with a couple
that, from outward appearance, had everything that heart could desire
to make them happy. They were young, healthy, had a good income, were
_both_ engaged in work they liked, yet the husband worried the
wife constantly about trifles. If she wished to set the table in a
particular way he worried because she didn't do it some other way; if
she drove one of their autos he worried because she didn't take the
other; and when she wore a spring-day flowery kind of a hat he worried
her because his mother never wore any other than a black hat. The
poor woman was distracted by the absolute absurdities, frivolities and
inconsequentialities of his worries, yet he didn't seem to have sense
to see what he was doing. So I gave him a plain practical talk--as I
had been drawn into a discussion of the matter without any volition on
my part--and urged him to quit irritating his wife so foolishly and so
Some teachers worry their pupils until the latter fail to do the work
they are competent to do; and the want of success of many an ambitious
teacher can often be attributed to his, her, worrying disposition.
Remember, therefore, that when you worry you are making others unhappy
as well as yourself, you are putting a damper, a blight, upon other
lives as well as your own, you are destroying the efficiency of other
workers as well as your own, you are robbing others of the joy of life
which God intended them freely to possess. So that for the sake of
others, as well as your own, it becomes an imperative duty that you
QUIT YOUR WORRYING.
WORRY VERSUS INDIFFERENCE
The aim and object of all striving in life should be to grow more
human, more humane, less selfish, more helpful to our fellows. Any
system of life that fails to meet this universal need is predestined
to failure. When, therefore, I urge upon my readers that they quit
their worrying about their husbands or wives, sons and daughters,
neighbors and friends, the wicked and the good, I do not mean that
they are to harden their hearts and become indifferent to their
welfare. God forbid! No student of the human heart, of human life, and
of the Bible can long ignore the need of a caution upon these lines.
The sacred writer knew what he was talking about when he spoke of the
human heart as deceitful and desperately wicked. It is deceitful or it
would never blind people as it does to the inutility, the futility of
much of their goodness. A goodness that is wrapped up in a napkin, and
lies unused for the benefit of others, rots and becomes a putrid mass
of corruption. It can only remain good by being unselfishly used for
the good of others, and to prove that the human heart is desperately
wicked one needs only to look at the suffering endured by mankind
unnecessarily--suffering that organized society ought to prevent and
The parable of the lost sheep was written to give us this needful
lesson. The shepherd, when he found one of his sheep gone, did not sit
down and wring his hands in foolish and useless worry as to what would
happen to the sheep, the dangers that would beset it, the thorns,
the precipices, the wolves. Nor did he count over the times he had
cautioned the sheep not to get away from its fellows. Granted that
it was conceited, self-willed, refused to listen to counsel,
disobedient--the main fact in the mind of the shepherd was that it was
lost, unprotected, in danger, afraid, cold, hungry, longing for the
sheepfold, the companionship of its fellows and the guardianship of
the shepherd. Hence, he went out eagerly and sympathetically, and
searched until he found it and brought it back to shelter.
This, then, should be the spirit of those who have needed my
caution and advice to quit their worrying about their loved ones and
others--Do not worry, but do not, under any consideration, become
hard-hearted, careless, or indifferent. Better by far preserve your
interest and the human tenderness that leads you to the useless and
needless expenditure of energy and sympathy in worry than that you
should let your loved ones suffer without any care, thought, or
endeavor on their behalf. But do not let it be a sympathy that leads
to worry. Let it be helpful, stimulating, directive, energizing in the
good. Overcome evil with good. Resist evil and it will flee from you.
So long as those you love are absorbed in the things that in the past
have led you to worry over them, be tender and sympathetic with them,
surround them with your holy and helpful love.
Jesus was tender and compassionate with all who were sick or diseased
in body or mind. He was never angry with any, save the proud and
self-righteous Pharisees. He tenderly forgave the adulterous woman,
justified the publican and never lectured or rebuked those who came to
have their bodily and mental infirmities removed by him. Let us then
be tender with the erring and the sinful, rather than censorious,
and full of rebuke. Is it not the better way to point out the
right--overcome the evil with the good, and thus bind our erring
loved ones more firmly to ourselves. Surely our own errors, failures,
weaknesses and sins ought to have taught us this lesson.
In the bedroom of a friend where I recently slept, was a card on
which was illuminated these words, which bear particularly upon this
The life that has not known and accepted sorrow is strangely
crude and untaught; it can neither help nor teach, for it has
never learned. The life that has spurned the lesson of sorrow,
or failed to read it aright, is cold and hard. But the life
that has been disciplined by sorrow is courageous and full of
holy and gentle love.
And it is this holy, gentle, and courageous love that we need to
exercise every day towards those who require it, rather than the
worry that frets still more, irritates, and widens the gulf already
existent. So, reader, don't worry, but help, sympathetically and
lovingly, and above all, don't become indifferent, hard-hearted and
WORRIES AND HOBBIES
Though these words are much alike in sound they have no sympathy
one with another. Put them in active operation and they rush at each
other's throats far worse than Allies and Germans are now fighting.
They strive for a death grip, and as soon as one gets hold he hangs on
to the end--if he can. Yet, as in all conflicts, the right is sure to
win in an equal combat, the right of the hobby is absolutely certain
to win over the wrong of the worry.
Webster defines a hobby as: "A subject or plan which one is constantly
setting off," or "a favorite and ever recurring theme of discourse,
thought, or effort," but the editor of _The Century Dictionary_ has
a better definition, more in accord with modern thought, viz., "That
which a person persistently pursues or dwells upon with zeal or
delight, as if riding a horse."
Are you cursed by the demon of worry? Has he got a death grip on your
throat? Do you want to be freed from his throttling assaults? If
so, get a hobby, the more mentally occupying the better, and ride it
earnestly, sincerely, furiously. Let it be what it will, it will
far more than pay in the end, when you find yourself free from the
nightmare of worry that has so relentlessly ridden you for so long.
Collect bugs, old china, Indian baskets, Indian blankets, pipes,
domestic implements, war paraphanalia, photographs, butterflies; make
an herbarium of the flowers of your State; collect postage stamps, old
books, first editions; go in for extra-illustrating books; pick up and
classify all the stray phrases you hear--do anything that will occupy
your mind to the exclusion of worry.
And let me here add a thought--the more unselfish you can make your
hobby the better it will be for you. Perhaps I can put it even in a
better way yet: The less your hobby is entered into with the purely
personal purpose of pleasing yourself, and the more actively you can
make it beneficial, helpful, joy-giving to others, the more potent
for good it will be in aiding you to get rid of your worries. He who
blesses another is thrice blessed, for he not only blesses himself by
the act, but brings upon himself the blessing of the recipient and of
Almighty God, with the oft-added blessing of those who learn of
the good deed and breathe a prayer of commendation for him. In San
Francisco there is a newspaper man who writes in a quaint, peculiar,
simple, yet subtle fashion, who signs himself "K.C.B." During the
Panama-Pacific Exposition one of his hobbies was to plan to take there
all the poor youngsters of the streets, the newsboys, the little ones
in hospitals, the incurables, the down-and-outers of the work-house
and poor-farm, and finally, the almost forgotten old men and women of
I saw strong men weep with deep emotion at the procession of
automobiles conveying the happy though generally silent throngs on
one of these occasions, and "K.C.B." must have felt the showers of
blessings that were sent in his direction from those who saw and
appreciated his beautiful helpfulness.
There is nothing to hinder any man, woman, youth or maiden from doing
exactly the same kind of thing, with the same spirit, and bringing
a few hours of happiness to the needy, thus driving worry out of the
mind, putting it _hors de combat_, so that it need never again rise
from the field.
Every blind asylum, children's hospital, slum, old lady's home, old
man's home, almshouse, poor-farm, work-house, insane asylum, prison,
and a thousand other centers where the poor, needy, sick and afflicted
gather, has its lonely hearts that long for cherishing, aching brows
that need to be soothed, pain to be alleviated; and there is no
panacea so potent in removing the worries of our own life as to engage
earnestly in removing the positive and active ills of others.
People occasionally ask me if I have any hobby that has helped me ward
off the attacks of worry. I do not believe I have ever answered this
question as fully as I might have done, so I will attempt to do so
now. One of my first hobbies was food reform and hygienic living. When
I was little more than twelve years of age I became a vegetarian
and for nine years lived the life pretty rigorously. I have always
believed that simpler, plainer living than most of us indulge in, more
open air life, sleeping, working, living out of doors, more active,
physical exercise of a useful character, would be beneficial. Then I
became a student of memory culture. Professor William Stokes of
the Royal Polytechnic Institution became my friend, and for years
I studied his system of Mnemonics, or as it was generally termed
"Artificial Memory." Then I taught it for a number of years, and
evolved from it certain fundamental principles upon which I have
largely based the cultivation of my own memory and mentality, and for
which I can never be sufficiently thankful. Then I desired to be a
public speaker. I became a "hobbyist" on pronunciation, enunciation,
purity of voice, phrasing and getting the thought of my own mind in
the best and quickest possible way into the minds of others. For years
I kept a small book in which I jotted down every word, its derivation
and full meaning with which I was not familiar. I studied clear
enunciation by the hour; indeed as I walked through the streets I
recited to myself, aloud, so that I could hear my own enunciation,
such poems as Southey's _Cataract of Lodore_, where almost every word
terminates in "ing." For I had heard many great English and American
speakers whose failure to pronounce this terminal "ing" in such
words as coming, going, etc., used to distress me considerably. Other
exercises were the catches, such as "Peter Piper picks a peck of
pickled peppers," or "Selina Seamstich stitches seven seams slowly,
surely, serenely and slovenly," or "Around a rugged rock a ragged
rascal ran a rural race." Then, too, Professor Stokes had composed a
wonderful yarn about the memory, entitled "My M-made memory medley,
mentioning memory's most marvelous manifestations." This took up as
much as three or four pages of this book, every word beginning with m.
It was a marvelous exercise for lingual development. He also had
"The Far-Famed Fairy Tale of Fenella," and these were constantly
and continuously recited, with scrupulous care as to enunciation. My
father was an old-time conductor of choral and oratorio societies, and
was the leader of a large choir. I had a good alto voice and under his
wise dicipline it was cultivated, and I was a certificated reader of
music at sight before I was ten years old. Then I taught myself
to play the organ, and before I was twenty I was the organist and
choir-master of one of the largest Congregational churches of my
native town, having often helped my father in the past years to drill
and conduct oratorios such as _The Messiah, Elijah, The Creation_,
etc. When I began to speak in public the only special instruction I
had for the cultivation of the voice was a few words from my father to
this effect: Stand before the looking-glass and insist that your face
appear pleasant and agreeable. Speak the sentence you wish to hear.
Listen to your own voice, you can tell as well as anyone else whether
its sound is nasal, harsh, raucous, disagreeable, affected, or in
any way displeasing or unnatural. Insist upon a pure, clear, natural,
pleasing tone, and that's all there is to it. When you appear before
an audience speak to the persons at the further end of the hall and
if they can hear you don't worry about anyone else. Later, when I had
become fairly launched as a public speaker, he came to visit me, and
when I appeared on my platform that night I found scattered around on
the floor, where none could see them but myself, several placards upon
which he had printed in easily-read capitals: Don't shout--keep cool.
Avoid ranting. Make each point clear. Don't ramble, etc.
When I was about fourteen I took up phonography, or stenography as
it is now known. This was an aid in reporting speeches, making notes,
etc., but one of its greatest helps was in the matter of analysing the
sounds of words thus aiding me in their clear enunciation.
At this time I was also a Sunday school teacher, and at sixteen years
of age, a local preacher in the Methodist church. This led to my
becoming an active minister of that denomination after I came to the
United States, and for seven years I was as active as I knew how to
be in the discharge of this work. In my desire to make my preaching
effective and helpful I studied unweariedly and took up astronomy,
buying a three inch telescope, and soon became elected to Fellowship
in the Royal Astronomical Society of England. Then I took up
microscopy, buying the fine microscope from Dr. Dallinger, President
of the Royal Microscopical Society, with which he had done his great
work on bacilli--and which, by-the-way, was later stolen from me--and
I was speedily elected a Fellow of that distinguished Society. A
little later Joseph Le Conte, the beloved geologist of the California
State University, took me under his wing, and set me to work solving
problems in geology, and I was elected, in due time, a Fellow of the
Geological Society of England, a society honored by the counsels of
such men as Tyndall, Murchison, Lyell, and all the great geologists of
the English speaking world.
Just before I left the ministry, in 1889, I took up, with a great deal
of zeal, the study of the poet Browning. I had already yielded to the
charm of Ruskin--whom I personally knew--and Carlyle, but Browning
opened up a new world of elevated thought to me, in which I am still
a happy dweller. In seeking a new vocation I naturally gravitated
towards several lines of thought and study, all of which have
influenced materially my later life, and all of which I pursued with
the devotion accorded only to hobbies. These were I: A deeper study
of Nature, in her larger and manifestations, as the Grand Canyon of
Arizona, the Petrified Forest, the Yosemite Valley, the Big Trees, the
High Sierras, (with their snow-clad summits, glaciers, lakes, canyons,
forests, flora and fauna), the Colorado and Mohave Deserts, the
Colorado River, the Painted Desert, and the many regions upon which I
have written books. II: The social conditions of the submerged tenth,
which led to my writing of a book on _The Dark Places of Chicago_
which was the stimulating cause of W.T. Stead's soul-stirring book _If
Christ Came to Chicago_. Here was and is the secret of my interest in
all problems dealing with social unrest, the treatment of the poor
and sinful, etc., for I was Chaplain for two years of two homes for
unfortunate women and girls. III. A deeper study of the Indians, in
whom I had always been interested, and which has led to my several
books on the Indians themselves, their Basketry, Blanketry, etc. IV. A
more detailed study of the literature of California and the West, and
also, V. A more comprehensive study of the development of California
and other western states, in order that I might lecture more
acceptably upon these facinating themes.
Here, then, are some of the hobbies that have made, and are making, my
life what it is. I leave it to my readers to determine which has
been the better--to spend my hours, days, weeks, months and years in
getting my livelihood and worrying, or in providing for my family
and myself, and spending all the spare time I had upon these many and
varied hobbies, some of which have developed into my life-work. And
I sincerely hope I shall be absolved from any charge of either
self-glorification or egotism in this recital of personal experiences.
At the time I was passing through them I had no idea of their great
value. They were the things to which something within me bade me flee
to find refuge from the worries that were destroying me, and it is
because of their triumphant success that I now recount them, in the
fervent desire that they may bring hope to despondent souls, give
courage to those who are now wavering, uncertain and pessimistic, and
thus rid them of the demons of fret and worry.
Now that I have come to my final words where all my final admonitions
should be placed, I find I have little left to say, I have said it
all, reader, in the chapters you have read (or skipped.) Indeed I have
not so much cared to preach to you myself, as to encourage, incite
you to do your own preaching. This is, by far, the most effective,
permanent and lasting. Improvement can come only from within. A seed
of desire may be sown by an outsider, but it must grow in the soil of
your soul, be harbored, sheltered, cared for, and finally beloved by
your own very self, before it will flower into new life _for you_.
That you may possess this new life--a life of work, of achievement, of
usefulness to others--is my earnest desire, and this can come only to
its fullest fruition in those who have learned to QUIT WORRYING.
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