We hear of many miraculous achievements in the building of health and the cure of disease through mental influence. The mind is unquestionably a master-force. I will not go so far as to say it is limitless, for certainly a hungry man cannot imagine he is eating a dinner and secure the same benefits that he would from the meal itself. Nor can a man who is passing away into the other world, through a definite vital defect, bring back life through mental force.
But we should remember that many diseases are to a great extent imaginary. And some of those not actually imaginary may at least be brought about through fears that are the results of abnormal delusions. And where such diseases are combated by mental forces of the right sort, a cure can be effected in many instances. In numerous cases, also, it is well to remember that the mental state is the actual cause of disease. You become blue, hopeless and to a certain extent helpless. You see nothing in the future. Life is dull. Ambition, enthusiasm, have all disappeared. It would not be at all difficult for this state of mind to bring about disease in some form.
Health, strength, vitality of the right sort, should radiate all the elements and forces associated with life's most valuable possessions. Happiness and health are close friends. It is very difficult to be gloomy and miserable if you are healthy. It is perhaps even more difficult to be healthy if you are gloomy and mentally ugly.
Therefore it is a wise precaution to cultivate a hopeful spirit. If the day is gloomy, if the sun is obscured by clouds, then develop the sunshine in your own spirit. Try to radiate good cheer. By seeking to cheer up others you will cheer yourself up, for always when we help others, we inevitably help ourselves, though this should not be our main purpose in the action. When we try to build up the characters, improve the morals and add to the mental and physical stability of others our efforts develop our own powers. Therefore, the best way to help yourself is to help others.
We have a remarkable exemplification of the value of mental influence in what is known as Christian Science. Even the most prejudiced enemy of this cult will admit that many remarkable cures have been accomplished through the principles it advocates. These cures alone indicate clearly that the mind is a dominating force that works for good or for evil. They prove that your thoughts are building up or tearing down your vital forces; that to a certain extent "Thoughts are things," that good thoughts are a real tangible influence for developing mental or physical force, and-that bad thoughts have an opposite influence. It is well for each one of us to determine clearly whether the thoughts that fill our minds each day are constructive or destructive in nature.
Your thoughts can actually destroy you. They can kill you as unerringly as a bullet fired from a rifle. Keep this fact very definitely before you, and try to make your thoughts each day the means of adding to your life forces. There are many emotions that are harbored on occasions, which are devitalizing and destructive.
We are all, to a certain extent, slaves of habit, whether good or bad. For instance, there is the worrying habit, for worry is really a habit. Therefore, it is a splendid plan to become slaves of good habits. One who has acquired the chronic habit of worrying needs a mental antiseptic. Worry never benefited anyone; it has brought thousands to an untimely grave. To give prolonged and grave thought to a problem that may come into your life, with the view of forming an intelligent conclusion, should not be called worry, but anxiety. There is a very great difference between worry and concentrated study of a vexing problem. The characteristic of worry is a tendency to brood anxiously over fancied troubles. The typical worrying mind will take mere trifles and magnify them until they become monumental difficulties. Many acquire the habit of going over and over again, and still again, the various unpleasant experiences which they have passed through during life. This inclination is baneful in its influence, To such persons I would say, eliminate the past. Try the forgetting habit, cultivate health and along with it good cheer. Make your mind a blank so far as the past is concerned, and fill it with uplifting thoughts for the present and the future. Worry is a mental poison, the toxic element produced in the mind by retention of waste matter, thoughts of the dead past that should have been eliminated with the passing of out-worn periods of existence.
Self-pity is another evil. It is closely allied to worry. There are many who cultivate a mental attitude of this sort because of the sorrows through which they have passed. Such individuals find their chief delight in portraying, in vivid details, the terrific sufferings which they have had to endure. No one has suffered quite so much as they have. They harrow their friends by going over frequently and persistently the long, gruesome details of their "awful" past. This habit is destructive to an extreme degree. Why harbor past experiences that only bring sorrows to mind? Why add to the bitterness of your daily life by dragging up the lamentable past? Why pass along to your friends and acquaintances pain, sorrow and gloom? Each human entity is a radiating power. You have the capacity of passing around pain or happiness. As a rule, when you ask a friend to "have something with you" your offer is supposed to bring good cheer. You surely would not ask a friend to have pain with you, or share with you the gall of bitter, experiences through which you have lived. Therefore, if you are the victim of self-pity and if your own past sufferings discolor your every pleasant thought, at least do not taint the minds of your friends. At least keep your direful broodings to yourself if you are determined to retain them. It is, however, far wiser and manlier to avoid such thoughts, in which case your memory of these torturing experiences will gradually fade away. Live in the future and forget the past. The man or woman who lives in the future, and for the future, will invariably be optimistic and cheerful. It is a good habit to cultivate.
Then there is a mental poison called anger. Avoid it as you would a venomous snake. It has indeed been said by scientists that the venom of the snake is developed through anger, induced by impure circulation, for in reptiles the pure arterial blood mixes in the imperfectly formed heart with the impure venous blood. Scientists have also stated that anger produces a poison in the perspiration that emanates from the human body. This may or may not be true, but there is no question, however, about anger being a mental poison. It represents a tremendous waste of nervous energy. To be sure, there may be occasions when anger is justified, when it is actually desirable, but such occasions are rare. Learn to master such emotions. Get control of your feelings and mental states. Avoid useless anger definitely and finally. It usually indicates a lack of mental control, and should be recognized as a destructive force to be carefully avoided.
Hate is, to a certain extent, synonymous with anger. One may call it anger in a chronic form.
Hate and the personal enmities associated with it develop emotions and characteristics that unquestionably have a destructive influence. Why hate anybody? Why waste your nervous energies by trying to "get even" with a fancied enemy? A tremendous amount of human energy is wasted in this manner. You may be impressed with the idea that someone has wronged you. You lie awake at night forming plans for "getting even." Every mental effort spent in this direction is not only destructive to body, mind and character, but it represents a waste of nervous energy. One's life should be so filled with useful activities that no time will be left for a waste of this sort. Show me a man who spends his time and efforts trying to "get even" with his supposed enemies, and I will show you a shining example of failure. No man can succeed who wastes his nervous forces in this manner.
Then there is the poison of avarice. Financial gain seems to be the one end and aim of many ambitious men. They struggle day after day and year after year in the whirlpool of perverted enthusiasm, looking continuously for wealth and still more wealth. But there is something more in life than money. Health, for instance, is worth a thousand times, and self-respect should be rated a million times, more than money. Do not allow a struggle of this sort to enslave you. Do not allow pursuits of any sort to interfere with the development and maintenance of those powers that indicate superior manhood and womanhood. It is also well to avoid the complaining and critical spirit. You will find frequent references in the Good Book to what might be termed the thankful spirit. It commands us to be thankful for what we have received. And whether or not the tenets of theology appeal to you, the thought presented is of the greatest value. If you can be thrilled each day with gladness because of the remembrance of pleasures that you have enjoyed the previous day the mental influence will be invaluable. Being thankful for what you have received does not necessarily indicate that you should not strive for more and better things. Dissatisfaction or discontent is not always necessary to spur one on to added powers and responsibilities. Avoid the complaining spirit, which will add gloom and despair to your life, no matter what may be your environment. Be thankful for the favors and opportunities that may have come to you, be they large or small, and your mental attitude in this respect will represent a potent health-building influence.
Envy is another evil it will be well to avoid, largely because it is inspired by selfish attributes. Do not envy others the joy of possessions that may be theirs. Happiness, after all, is worth but little if it comes unearned. Life's greatest pleasures are secured only through intelligent and diligent efforts. They come as the results of hard work. A man who inherits great wealth secures little or no benefit from it. It adds but little to his pleasure in life, for the greatest possible happiness comes from the pursuit rather than the attainment of an object. More happiness comes from the pursuit of wealth or pleasure than from its actual attainment. Let the attainment of truth be your aim. Truth is magnificent. It is tremendously weighted with power. Whatever your ambitions or hopes in life may be, seek for the truth. In some cases the road that leads to this goal may be devious and hard to follow. Dangers of all sorts may beset you, as you struggle along the rugged pathway that leads to truth, but the rewards will amply repay you for every effort.
Don't be a leaner.
Try to stand alone. Be yourself. Bring out your own personal characteristics, do not be a stereotype, a parrot, a copy. Let others live their own lives, but you see to it that you live yours. Many of our public schools are turning out factory-made human beings; each pupil, as far as possible, a duplicate of every other. They are educational brick factories tuning out their products stamped exactly alike. Individuality is crushed out. Now the child is not so much like clay to be molded into any form, as it is like a precious crystal, that must be shaped with regard to its original nature. Each human soul is an uncut diamond. It often has within it capacities and powers which, if developed, might achieve results which we now expect only from exceptional human beings. Therefore; be yourself. Hold up your head, throw back your shoulders; remember that the earth and all that is thereon belongs to you. Anyway, it is well to be inspired by such a thought. It is the proper mental attitude. Life is a hard battle, and the rewards are to the strong and courageous. Be inspired by the dominating determination to get all there is in your life. Develop all your capacities and powers to their utmost limit, and then you can rest assured, that every thought that stirs your soul will be upbuilding rather than destructive in nature.