Part 2 out of 4
better, and has a more healthy appearance, than before the attack.
This effect has been so often experienced that with some people
there is a little bit of pleasantry passed on meeting a friend, in
the remark: "Why, how do you do; how well you look--you must have
If we remember when we are taken ill that nature always tends
towards health, we will study carefully to fulfill nature's
conditions in order to cure the disease.
We will rest quietly, until nature in her process toward health has
reached health. In that way our illness can be the means of giving
us a good rest, and, while we may feel the loss of the energy of
which the disease has robbed us, we also feel the good effects of
the rest which we have given to organs which were only tired.
These organs which have gained rest can, in their turn, help toward
renewing the strength of the organs which had been out of order, and
thus we get up from an illness looking so well, and feeling so well,
that we do not regret the loss of time, and feel ready to work, and
to gradually make up the loss of money.
Of course, the question is, how to fulfill the conditions so that
this happy result can be attained.
In the first place, _do not fret._
"But how can I help fretting?" someone will say, "when I am losing
money every day, and do not know how many more days I may be laid
The answer to that is: "If you will think of the common sense of it,
you can easily see that the strain of fretting is interfering
radically with your getting well. For when you are using up strength
to fret, you are simply robbing yourself of the vitality which would
be used directly in the cure of your illness."
Not only that, but the strain of fretting increases the strain of
illness, and is not only preventing you from getting well, but it is
tending to keep you ill.
When we realize that fact, it seems as if it would be an easy matter
to stop fretting in order to get well.
It is as senseless to fret about an illness, no matter how much just
cause we may feel we have, as it would be to walk west when our
destination was directly east.
Stop and think of it. Is not that true? Imagine a child with a pin
pricking him, kicking, and screaming, and squirming with the pain,
so that his mother--try as carefully as she may--takes five minutes
to find the pin and get it out, when she might have done it and
relieved him in five seconds, if only the child had kept still and
So it is with us when Mother Nature is working with wise steadiness
to find the pin that is making us ill, and to get it out. We fret
and worry so that it takes her ten or twenty days to do the good
work that she might have done in three.
In order to drop the fretting, we must use our wills to think, and
feel, and act, so that the way may be opened for health to come to
us in the quickest possible time.
Every contraction of worry which appears in the muscles we must
drop, so that we lie still with a sense of resting, and waiting for
the healing power, which is surely working within us, to make us
_We can do this by a deliberate use of our wills._
If we could take our choice between medicine, and the curative power
of dropping anxiety and letting ourselves get well, there would be
no hesitancy, provided we understood the alternatives.
I speak of fretting first because it is so often the strongest
interference with health.
Defective circulation is the trouble in most diseases, and we should
do all we can to open the channels so that the circulation, being
free elsewhere, can tend to open the way to greater freedom in the
part diseased. The contractions caused by fretting impede the
circulation still more, and therefore heighten the disease.
If once, by a strong use of the will, we drop the fretting and give
ourselves up entirely to letting nature cure us, then we can study,
with interest, to fulfill other necessary conditions. We can give
ourselves the right amount of fresh air, of nourishment, of bathing,
and the right sort of medicine, if any is needed.
Thus, instead of interfering with nature, we are doing all in our
power to aid her; and when nature and the invalid work in harmony,
health comes on apace.
When illness brings much pain and discomfort with it, the endeavor
to relax out of the contractions caused by the pain, are of the same
service as dropping contractions caused by the fretting.
If one can find a truly wise doctor, or nurse, in such an illness as
I refer to, get full instructions in just one visit, and then follow
those directions explicitly, only one visit will be needed,
probably, and the gain from that will pay for it many times over.
This article is addressed especially to those who are now in health.
It is perhaps too much to expect one in the midst of an illness to
start at once with what we may call the curative attitude, although
it could be done, but if those who are now well and strong will read
and get a good understanding of this healthy way of facing an
illness, and get it into their subconscious minds, they will find
that if at any time they should be unfortunate enough to be attacked
with illness, they can use the knowledge to very real advantage,
and--what is more--they can, with the right tact, help others to use
To see the common sense of a process and, when we have not the
opportunity to use the laws ourselves, to help others by means of
our knowledge, impresses our own brains more thoroughly with the
truth, especially if our advice is taken and acted upon and thus
proved to be true.
It must not be forgotten, however, that to help another man or woman
to a healthy process of getting well requires gentle patience and
quiet, steady, unremitting tact.
_Is Physical Culture good for Girls?_
A NUMBER of women were watching a game of basket-ball played by some
high-school girls. In the interim for rest one woman said to her
neighbor: "Do you see that girl flat on her back, looking like a
very heavy bag of sand ?"
"Yes," the answer was; "what under the sun is she doing that for?
She looks heavy and lazy and logy, while the other girls are talking
and laughing and having a good time."
"You wait and watch her play," responded the first woman. And so
they waited and watched, and to the astonishment of the friend the
girl who had looked "lazy and logy," lying flat on her back during
the rest-time, was the most active of the players, and really saved
When the game was finished the woman said to her friend with
surprise in her voice: "How did you see through that, and understand
what that girl was aiming for?"
The answer was: "Well, I know the girl, and both she and I have read
Kipling's 'The Maltese Cat.' Don't you remember how the best polo
ponies in that story, when they were off duty, hung their heads and
actually made themselves looked fagged, in order to be fresher when
the time came to play? And how 'The Maltese Cat' scouted the silly
ponies who held their heads up and kicked and looked alert while
they waited? And don't you remember the result?"
"No, I never read the story, but I have certainly seen your point
prove itself to-day. I shall read it at once. Meanwhile, I want to
speak to that clever girl who could catch a point like that and use
"Take care, please, that you do not mention it to her at all," said
the friend. "You will draw her attention back to herself and likely
as not make her lose the next game. Points like that have got to be
worked on without self-consciousness, not talked about."
And so the women told the child they were glad that her side won the
game and never mentioned her own part in it at all. After all she
had only found the law that the more passive you can be when it is
time to rest, the more alert you are and the more powerful in
activity. The polo pony knew it as a matter of course. We humans
have to discover it.
Let us, just for the interest of it, follow that same basket-ball
player a little more closely. Was she well developed and evenly
trained in her muscles? Yes, very. Did she go to gymnasium, or did
she scorn it? She went, twice a week regularly, and had good fun
there; but there was just this contrast between her and most of the
girls in the class: Jane, as we will call her, went to gymnasium as
a means to an end. She found that she got an even development there
which enabled her to walk better, to play better, and to work
better. In gymnasium she laid her muscular foundation on which to
build all the good, active work of her life. The gymnasium she went
to, however, was managed in an unusual way except for the chest
weights, which always "opened the ball," the members of the class
never knew what work they were to do. Their minds were kept alert
throughout the hour and a half. If their attention wavered they
tripped or got behind in the exercise, and the mental action which
went into the movement of every muscle made the body alive with the
healthy activity of a well-concentrated, well-directed mind.
Another point which our young friend learned at gymnasium was to
direct her mind only on to the muscles that were needed. Did you
ever try to clench your fist so tight that it could not be opened?
If not, try it, and relax all over your body while you are keeping
your fist tight closed. You will see that the more limp your body
becomes the tighter you can keep your fist clenched. All the force
goes in that one direction. In this way a moderately strong girl can
keep a strong man hard at work for several minutes before he can
make any impression on the closed hand. That illustrates in a simple
way the fact that the most wholesome concentration is that which
comes from dropping everything that interferes--letting the force of
mind or body flow only in the direction in which it is to be used.
Many girls use their brains in the wrong way while on the gymnasium
floor by saying to themselves, "I cannot do that." The brain is so
full of that thought that the impression an open brain would receive
has no chance to enter, and the result is an awkward, nervous, and
uncertain movement. If a girl's brain and muscle were so relaxed
that the impression on the one would cause a correct use and
movement of the other how easy it would be thereafter to apply the
proper tension to the muscle at the proper time without overtaxing
Some one has well said that "it is training, not straining, that we
want in our gymnasiums." Only when a girl is trained from this point
of view does she get real training.
This basket-ball player had also been taught how to rest after
exercise in a way which appealed to her especially, because of her
interest which had already been aroused in Kipling's polo pony. She
was taught intelligently that if, after vigorous exercise, when the
blood is coursing rapidly all over the body, you allow yourself to
be entirely open and passive, the blood finds no interruptions in
its work and can carry away the waste matter much more effectually.
In that way you get the full result of the exercise. It is not
necessary always to lie down to have your body passive enough after
vigorous exercise to get the best results. If you sit down after
exercise you want to sit without tension. Or if you walk home from
gymnasium you want to walk loosely and freely, keeping your chest up
and a little in advance, and pushing with the ball of your back foot
with a good, rhythmic balance. As this is the best way to sit and
the best way to walk--gymnasium or no gymnasium--to look out for a
well-balanced sitting and a well-balanced walk directly after
vigorous exercise, keeps us in good form for sitting and walking all
I know of a professor in one of our large colleges who was offered
also a professorship in a woman's college, and he refused to accept
because he said women's minds did not react. When he lectured to
girls he found that, however attentively they might seem to listen,
there was no response. They gave nothing in return.
Of course this is not true of all girls, and of course the gentleman
who refused the chair in the woman's college would agree that it is
not true of all girls, but if those who read the anecdote would,
instead of getting indignant, just look into the matter a little,
they would see how true it is of many girls, and by thinking a
little further we can see that it is not at present the girls'
fault. A hundred years ago girls were not expected to think. I
remember an anecdote which a very intelligent old lady used to tell
me about her mother. Once, when she was a little girl, her mother
found some fault with her which the daughter knew to be unjust, and
she answered timidly, "But, Mother, I think--"
"Abigail," came the sharp reminder, "you've no business to think."
One hundred years ago it was only the very exceptional girls who
really thought. Now we are gradually working toward the place where
every girl will think. And surely it cannot be very long now before
the united minds of a class of college girls will have the habit of
reacting so that any man will feel in his own brain a vigorous
result from lecturing to them.
This fact that a girl's brain does not react is proved in many ways.
Most of the women who come to nerve specialists seem to feel that
they are to sit still and be cured, while the men who come respond
and do their part much more intelligently--the result being that men
get out of "nerves" in half the time and stay out, whereas girls
often get out a little way and slump (literally slump) back again
before they can be helped to respond truly enough to get well and
keep themselves well. This information is given only with an idea of
stirring girls up to their best possibilites, for there is not a
woman born with a sound mind who is not capable of reacting
mentally, in a greater or less degree, to all that she hears,
provided she uses her will consciously to form the new habit.
Now this need of intelligent reaction is just the trouble with girls
and physical culture. Physical culture should be a means to an
end--and that is all, absolutely all. It is delightful and
strengthening when it is taught thoughtfully as a means to an end,
and I might almost say it is only weakening when it is made an end
Girls need to react intelligently to what is given them in physical
training as much as to what is given them in a lecture on literature
or philosophy or botany. How many girls do we know who take physical
culture in a class, often simply because it is popular at the time,
and never think of taking a long walk in the country--never think of
going in for a vigorous outdoor game? How many girls do we know who
take physical culture and never think of making life easy for their
stomachs, or seeing that they get a normal amount of sleep? Exercise
in the fresh air, with a hearty objective interest in all that is
going on about us, is the very best sort of exercise that we can
take, and physical culture is worse than nothing if it is not taken
only as a means to enable us to do more in the open air, and do it
better, and gain from it more life.
There is one girl who comes to my mind of whom I should like to tell
because she illustrates truly a point that we cannot consider too
carefully. She went to a nerve specialist very much broken in
health, and when asked if she took plenty of exercise in the open
air she replied "Yes, indeed." And it was proved to be the very best
exercise. She had a good horse, and she rode well; she rode a great
deal, and not too much. She had interesting dogs and she took them
with her. She walked, too, in beautiful country. But she was
carrying in her mind all the time extreme resistance to other
circumstances of her life. She did not know how to drop the
resistance or face the circumstances, and the mental strain in which
she held herself day and night, waking or sleeping, prevented the
outdoor exercise from really refreshing her. When she learned to
face the circumstances then the exercise could do its good work.
On the other hand, there are many forms of nervous resistance and
many disagreeable moods which good, vigorous exercise will blow away
entirely, leaving our minds so clear that we wonder at ourselves,
and wonder that we could ever have had those morbid thoughts.
The mind acts and the body reacts, the body acts and the mind
reacts, but of course at the root of it all is the real desire for
what is normal, or--alas!--the lack of that desire.
If physical culture does not make us love the open air, if it does
not make us love to take a walk or climb a mountain, if it does not
help us to take the walk or climb the mountain with more freedom, if
it does not make us move along outdoors so easily that we forget our
bodies altogether, and only enjoy what we see about us and feel how
good it is to be alive--why, then physical culture is only an
ornament without any use.
There is an interesting point in mountain-climbing which I should
like to speak of, by the way, and which makes it much pleasanter and
better exercise. If, after first starting--and, of course, you
should start very slowly and heavily, like an elephant--you get out
of breath, let yourself stay out of breath. Even emphasize the being
out of breath by breathing harder than your lungs started to
breathe, and then let your lungs pump and pump and pump until they
find their own equilibrium. The result is delightful, and the
physical freedom that follows is more than delightful. I remember
seeing two girls climbing in the high Rocky Mountains in this way,
when other women were going up on ponies. Finally one of the guides
looked back, and with an expression of mild astonishment said "Well,
you have lungs!" This was a very pleasant proof of the right kind of
There are many good points for climbing and walking and swimming and
all outdoor exercise that can be gained from the best sort of
physical culture; and physical culture is good for girls when it
gives these points and leads to a spontaneous love for outdoor
exercise. But when it results only in a self-conscious pose of the
body then it is harmful.
We want to have strong bodies, free for every normal action, with
quiet nerves, and muscles well coordinated. Then our bodies are
merely instruments: good, clean, healthy instruments. They are the
"mechanism of the outside." And when the mechanism of the outside is
well oiled and running smoothly it can be forgotten.
There can be no doubt but that physical culture is good for girls
provided it is given and taken with intelligent interest, but it
must be done thoroughly to be done to real advantage. As, for
instance, the part the shower-bath plays after exercising is most
important, for it equalizes the circulation. Physical culture is
good for girls who have little or no muscular action in their daily
lives, for it gives them the healthiest exercise in the least space
of time, and prepares them to get more life from exercise outdoors.
It is good for girls whose daily lives are full of activity, because
it develops the unused muscles and so rests those that have been
overused. Many a hardworking girl has entered the gymnasium class
tired and has left it rested.
ONCE met a man who had to do an important piece of scientific work
in a given time. He worked from Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock
until Monday morning at 10 o'clock without interruption, except for
one hour's sleep and the necessary time it took for nourishment.
After he had finished he was, of course, intensely tired, but
instead of going right to bed and to sleep, and taking all that
brain strain to sleep with him he took his dog and his gun and went
hunting for several hours.
Turning his attention to something so entirely different gave the
other part of his brain a chance to recover itself a little. The
fresh air revived him, and the gentle exercise started up his
circulation, If he had gone directly to sleep after his work, the
chances are that it would have taken him days to recover from the
fatigue, for nature would have had too much against her to have
reacted quickly from so abnormal a strain--getting an entire change
of attention and starting up his circulation in the fresh air gave
nature just the start she needed. After that she could work steadily
while he slept, and he awakened rested and refreshed.
To write from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning seems a stupid
thing to do--no matter what the pressure is. To work for an abnormal
time or at an abnormal rate is almost always stupid and short
There are exceptions, however, and it would be good if for those
exceptions people knew how to take the best care of themselves. But
it is not only after such abnormal work that we need to know how to
react most restfully. It is important after all work, and especially
for those who have some steady labor for the whole day.
Every one is more or less tired at the end of the day and the
temptation is to drop into a chair or lie down on the sofa or to go
right to bed and go to sleep. Don't do it.
Get some entire, active change for your brain, if it is only for
fifteen minutes or half an hour. If you live in the city, even to go
to walk and look into the shop windows is better than nothing. In
that way you get fresh air, and if one knows how to look into shop
windows without wanting anything or everything they see there, then
it is very entertaining.
It is a good game to look into a shop window for two or three
minutes and then look away and see how well you can remember
everything in it. It is important always to take shop windows that
are out of one's own line of work.
If you live in the country, a little walk out of doors is pleasanter
than in the city, for the air is better; and there is much that is
interesting, in the way of trees and sky, and stars, at night.
As you walk, make a conscious effort to look out and about you.
Forget the work of the day, and take good long breaths.
When you do not feel like going out of doors, take a story book--or
some other reading, if you prefer--and put your mind right on it for
half an hour. The use of a really good novel cannot be
overestimated. It not only serves as recreation, but it introduces
us to phases of human nature that otherwise we would know nothing
whatever about. A very great change from the day's work can be found
in a good novel and a very happy change.
If the air in the theaters were fresher and good seats did not cost
so much a good play, well acted, would be better than a good novel.
Sometimes it freshens us up to play a game after the day's work is
over, and for those who love music there is of course the greatest
rest in that. But there again comes in the question of cost.
Why does not some kind soul start concerts for the people where, for
a nominal admission, the best music can be heard? And why does not
some other kind soul start a theater for the people where, for a
very small price of admission, they can see the best plays and see
them well acted?
We have public libraries in all our cities and towns, and a
librarian in one large city loves to tell the tale of a poor woman
in the slums with her door barred with furniture for fear of the
drunken raiders in the house, quietly reading a book from the public
There are many similar stories to go with that. If we had really
good theaters and really good concerts to be reached as simply and
as easily as the books in our public libraries, the healthy
influence throughout the cities would be proportionately increased.
The trouble is that people cater as much to the rich with their
ideas of a national theater as the theatrical syndicate itself.
I could not pretend to suggest amusements that would appeal to any
or every reader, but I can make my point clear that when one is
tired it is healthy to have a change of activity before going to
"Oh," I hear, "I can't! I can't! I am too tired."
I know the feeling.
I have no doubt the man who wrote for nearly two days had a very
strong tendency to go right to bed, but he had common sense behind
it, and he knew the result would be better if he followed his common
sense rather than his inclination. And so it proved.
It seems very hard to realize that it is not the best thing to go
right to bed or to sit and do nothing when one is so tired as to
make it seem impossible to do anything else.
It would be wrong to take vigorous physical exercise after great
brain or body fatigue, but entire change of attention and gentle
exercise is just what is needed, although care should always be
taken not to keep at it too long. Any readers who make up their
minds to try this process of resting will soon prove its happy
A quotation from a recent daily paper reads, "'Rest while you work,'
says Annie Payson Call,"--and then the editor adds, "and get fired,"
and although the opportunity for the joke was probably thought too
good to lose, it was a natural misinterpretation of a very practical
I can easily imagine a woman--especially a tired out and bitter
woman--reading directions telling how to work restfully and
exclaiming with all the vehemence of her bitterness: "That is all
very well to write about. It sounds well, but let any one take hold
of my work and try to do it restfully.
"If my employer should come along and see me working in a lazy way
like that, he would very soon discharge me. No, no. I am tired out;
I must keep at it as long as I can, and when I cannot keep at it any
longer, I will die--and there is the end."
"It is nothing but drudge, drudge for your bread and butter--and
what does your bread and butter amount to when you get it?"
There are thousands of women working to-day with bodies and minds so
steeped in their fatigue that they cannot or will not take an idea
outside of their rut of work. The rut has grown so deep, and they
have sunken in so far that they cannot look over the edge.
It is true that it is easier to do good hard work in the lines to
which one has been accustomed than to do easy work which is strange.
Nerves will go on in old accustomed habits--even habits of tiresome
strain--more easily than they will be changed into new habits of
working without strain.
The mind, too, gets saturated with a sense of fatigue until the
fatigue seems normal, and to feel well rested would--at first--seem
abnormal. This being a fact, it is a logical result that an
habitually tired and strained mind will indignantly refuse the idea
that it can do more work and do it better without the strain.
There is a sharp corner to be turned to learn to work without
strain, when one has had the habit of working with it. After the
corner is turned, it requires steady, careful study to understand
the new normal habit of working restfully, and to get the new habit
When once it is established, this normal habit of work develops its
own requirements, and the working without strain becomes to us an
essential part of the work itself.
For taken as a whole, more work is done and the work is done better
when we avoid strain than when we do not. What is required to find
this out is common sense and strength of character.
Character grows with practice; it builds and builds on itself when
once it has a fair start, and a very little intelligence is needed
if once the will is used to direct the body and mind in the lines of
Intelligence grows, too, as we use it. Everything good in the soul
grows with use; everything bad, destroys.
Let us make a distinction to begin with between "rest while you
work" and "working restfully."
"Rest while you work" might imply laziness. There is a time for rest
and there is a time for work. When we work we should work entirely.
When we rest we should rest entirely.
If we try to mix rest and work, we do neither well. That is true.
But if we work restfully, we work then with the greatest amount of
power and the least amount of effort.
That means more work and work better done after the right habit is
established than we did before, when the wrong habit was
established. The difficulty comes, and the danger of "getting
fired," when we are changing our habit.
To obviate that difficulty, we must be content to change our habit
more slowly. Suppose we come home Saturday night all tired out; go
to bed and go to sleep, and wake Sunday almost more tired than when
we went to bed. On Sunday we do not have to go to work.
Let us take a little time for the sole purpose of thinking our work
over, and trying to find where the unnecessary strain is.
"But," I hear some one say, "I am too tired to think." Now it is a
scientific fact that when our brains are all tired out in one
direction, if we use our wills to start them working in another
direction, they will get rested.
"But," again I hear, "if I think about my work, why isn't that
using my brain in the same direction?" Because in thinking to apply
new principles to work, of which you have never thought before, you
are thinking in a new direction.
Not only that, but in applying new and true principles to your work
you are bringing new life into the work itself.
On this Sunday morning, when you take an hour to devote yourself to
the study of how you can work without getting overtired ask yourself
the following questions:--
(1) "What do I resist in or about my work?" Find out each thing that
you do resist, and drop the contractions that come in your body,
with the intention of dropping the resistances in your mind.
(2) "Do I drop my work at meals and eat quietly?"
(3) "Do I take every opportunity that I can to get fresh air, and
take good, full breaths of it?"
(4) "Do I feel hurried and pushed in my work? Do I realize that no
matter how much of a hurry there may be, I can hurry more
effectively if I drop the strain of the hurry?"
(5) "How much superfluous strain do I use in my work? Do I work with
a feeling of strain? How can I observe better in order to become
conscious of the strain and drop it?"
These are enough questions for one time! If you concentrate on these
questions and on finding the answers, and do it diligently, you will
be surprised to see how the true answers will come to you, and how
much clearer they will become as you put them into daily practice.
ONCE a young woman who had very hard work to do day after day and
who had come to where she was chronically strained and tired, turned
to her mother just as she was starting for work in the morning, and
in a voice tense with fatigue and trouble, said:--
"Mother, I cannot stand it. I cannot stand it. Unless I can get a
vacation long enough at least to catch my breath, I shall break down
"Why don't you take a vacation today?" asked her mother. The
daughter got a little irritated and snapped out:---
"Why do you say such a foolish thing as that, Mother? You know as
well as I that I could not leave my work to-day."
"Don't be cross, dear. Stop a minute and let me tell you what I
mean. I have been thinking about it and I know you will appreciate
what I have to say, and I know you can do it. Now listen." Whereupon
the mother went on to explain quite graphically a process of
pretense--good, wholesome pretense.
To any one who has no imagination this would not or could not
To the young woman of whom I write it not only appealed heartily,
but she tried it and made it work. It was simply that she should
play that she had commenced her vacation and was going to school to
As, for instance, she would say to herself, and believe it: "Isn't
it good that I can have a vacation and a rest. What shall I do to
get all I can out of it?
"I think I will go and see what they are doing in the grammar
school. Maybe when I get there it will amuse me to teach some of the
children. It is always interesting to see how children are going to
take what you say to them and to see the different ways in which
they recite their lessons."
By the time she got to school she was very much cheered. Looking up
she said to herself: "This must be the building."
She had been in it every school day for five years past, but through
the process of her little game it looked quite new and strange now.
She went in the door and when the children said "good morning," and
some of them seemed glad to see her, she said to herself: "Why, they
seem to know me; I wonder how that happens?" Occasionally she was so
much amused at her own consistency in keeping up the game that she
nearly laughed outright. She heard each class recite as if she were
teaching for the first time. She looked upon each separate child as
if she had never seen him before and he was interesting to her as a
She found the schoolroom more cheerful and was surprised into
perceiving a pleasant sort of silent communication that started up
between her pupils and herself.
When school was over she put on her hat and coat to go home, with
the sense of having done something restful; and when she appeared to
her mother, it was with a smiling, cheerful face, which made her
mother laugh outright; and then they both laughed and went out for a
walk in the fresh air, before coming in to go to bed, and be ready
to begin again the next day.
In the morning the mother felt a little anxious and asked timidly:
"Do you believe you can make it work again today, just as well as
"Yes, indeed and better," said the daughter. "It is too much fun not
to go on with it."
After breakfast the mother with a little roguish twinkle, said:
"Well, what do you think you will do to amuse yourself to-day,
"Oh! I think--" and then they both laughed and Alice started off on
her second day's "vacation."
By the end of a week she was out of that tired rut and having a very
good time. New ideas had come to her about the school and the
children; in fact, from being dead and heavy in her work, she had
When she found the old tired state coming on her again, she and her
mother always "took a vacation," and every time avoided the tired
rut more easily.
If one only has imagination enough, the helpfulness and restfulness
of playing "take a vacation" will tell equally well in any kind of
You can play at dressmaking--play at millinery--play at keeping
shop. You can make a game of any sort of drudgery, and do the work
better for it, as well as keep better rested and more healthy
yourself. But you must be steady and persistent and childlike in the
way you play your game.
Do not stop in the middle and exclaim, "How silly!"--and then slump
into the tired state again.
What I am telling you is nothing more nor less than a good healthy
process of self-hypnotism. Really, it is more the attitude we take
toward our work that tires us than the work itself. If we could only
learn that and realize it as a practical fact, it would save a great
deal of unnecessary suffering and even illness.
We do not need to play vacation all the time, of course. The game
might get stale then and lose its power. If we play it for two or
three days, whenever we get so tired that it seems as if we could
not bear it--play it just long enough to lift ourselves out of the
rut--then we can "go to work again" until we need another vacation.
We need not be afraid nor ashamed to bring back that childlike
tendency--it will be of very great use to our mature minds.
If we try to play the vacation game, it is wiser to say nothing
about it. It is not a game that we can be sure of sharing profitably
either to ourselves or to others.
If you find it works, and give the secret to a friend, tell her to
play it without mentioning it to you, even though she shares your
work and is sitting in the next chair to you.
Another most healthy process of resting while you work is by means
of lowering the pressure.
Suppose you were an engine, whose normal pressure was six hundred
pounds, we will say. Make yourself work at a pressure of only three
The human engine works with so much more strain than is necessary
that if a woman gets overtired and tries to lighten her work by
lightening the pressure with which she does it, she will find that
really she has only thrown off the unnecessary strain, and is not
only getting over her fatigue by working restfully, but is doing her
work better, too.
In the process of learning to use less pressure, the work may seem
to be going a little more slowly at first, but we shall find that it
will soon go faster, and better, as time establishes the better
One thing seems singular; and yet it appeals entirely to our common
sense as we think of it. There never comes a time when we cannot
learn to work more effectively at a lower pressure. We never get to
where we cannot lessen our pressure and thus increase our power.
The very interest of using less pressure adds zest to our work,
however it may have seemed like drudging before, and the possibility
of resting while we work opens to us much that is new and
refreshing, and gives us clearer understanding of how to rest more
completely while we rest.
All kinds of resting, and all kinds of working, can bring more
vitality than most of us know, until we have learned to rest and to
work without strain.
_The Woman at the Next Desk_
IT may be the woman sewing in the next chair; it may be the woman
standing next at the same counter; it may be the woman next at a
working table, or it may be the woman at the next desk.
Whichever one it is, many a working woman has her life made wretched
by her, and it would be a strange thing for this miserable woman to
hear and a stranger thing--at first--for her to believe that the
woman at the next desk need not trouble her at all.
That, if she only could realize it, the cause of the irritation
which annoyed her every day and dragged her down so that many and
many a night she had been home with a sick headache was entirely and
solely in herself and not at all in the woman who worked next to
her, however disagreeable that woman may have been.
Every morning when she wakes the woman at the next desk rises before
her like a black specter. "Oh, I would not mind the work; I could
work all day happily and quietly and go home at night and rest; the
work would be a joy to me compared to this torture of having to live
all day next to that woman."
It is odd, too, and true, that if the woman at the next desk finds
that she is annoying our friend, unconsciously she seems to ferret
out her most sensitive places and rub them raw with her sharp,
She seems to shirk her own work purposely and to arrange it so that
the woman next her must do the work in her place. Then, having done
all in her power to give the woman next her harder labor, she snaps
out a little scornful remark about the mistakes that have been made.
If she--the woman at the next desk--comes in in the morning feeling
tired and irritable herself, she vents her irritability on her
companion until she has worked it off and goes home at night feeling
much better herself, while her poor neighbor goes home tired out and
The woman at the next desk takes pains to let little disagreeable
hints drop about others--if not directly in their hearing at least
in ways which she knows may reach them.
She drops hint to others of what those in higher office have said or
appeared to think, which might frighten "others" quite out of their
wits for fear of their being discharged, and then, where should they
get their bread and butter?
All this and more that is frightful and disagreeable and mean may
the woman at the next desk do; or she may be just plain, every-day
Every one knows the trying phases of her own working neighbor. But
with all this, and with worse possibilities of harassment than I
have even touched upon, the woman at the next desk is powerless, so
far as I am concerned, if I choose to make her so.
The reason she troubles me is because I resist her. If she hurts my
feelings, that is the same thing. I resist her, and the resistance,
instead of making me angry, makes me sore in my nerves and makes me
want to cry. The way to get independent of her is not to resist her,
and the way to learn not to resist her is to make a daily and hourly
study of dropping all resistances to her.
This study has another advantage, too; if we once get well started
on it, it becomes so interesting that the concentration on this new
interest brings new life in itself.
Resistance in the mind brings contraction in the body. If, when we
find our minds resisting that which is disagreeable in another, we
give our attention at once to finding the resultant contraction in
our bodies, and then concentrate our wills on loosening out of the
contraction, we cannot help getting an immediate result.
Even though it is a small result at the beginning, if we persist,
results will grow until we, literally, find ourselves free from the
woman at the next desk.
This woman says a disagreeable thing; we contract to it mind and
body. We drop the contraction from our bodies, with the desire to
drop it from our minds, for loosening the physical tension reacts
upon the mental strain and relieves it.
We can say to ourselves quite cheerfully: "I wish she would go ahead
and say another disagreeable thing; I should like to try the
experiment again." She gives you an early opportunity and you try
the experiment again, and again, and then again, until finally your
brain gets the habit of trying the experiment without any voluntary
effort on your part.
That habit being established, _you are free from the woman at the
next desk._ She cannot irritate you nor wear upon you, no matter how
she tries, no matter what she says, or what she does.
There is, however, this trouble about dropping the contraction. We
are apt to have a feeling of what we might call "righteous
indignation" at annoyances which are put upon us for no reason;
that, so-called, "righteous indignation" takes the form of
resistance and makes physical contractions.
It is useless to drop the physical contraction if the indignation is
going to rise and tighten us all up again. If we drop the physical
and mental contractions we must have something good to fill the open
channels that have been made. Therefore let us give our best
attention to our work, and if opportunity offers, do a kindness to
the woman at the next desk.
Finally, when she finds that her ways do not annoy, she will stop
them. She will probably, for a time at first, try harder to be
disagreeable, and then after recovering from several surprises at
not being able to annoy, she will quiet down and grow less
If we realize the effect of successive and continued resistance upon
ourselves and realize at the same time that we can drop or hold
those resistances as we choose to work to get free from them, or
suffer and hold them, then we can appreciate the truth that if the
woman at the next desk continues to annoy us, it is our fault
entirely, and not hers.
_Telephones and Telephoning_
MOST men--and women--use more nervous force in speaking through the
telephone than would be needed to keep them strong and healthy for
It is good to note that the more we keep in harmony with natural
laws the more quiet we are forced to be.
Nature knows no strain. True science knows no strain. Therefore _a
strained high-pitched voice does not carry over the telephone wire
as well as a low one._
If every woman using the telephone would remember this fact the good
accomplished would be thricefold. She would save her own nervous
energy. She would save the ears of the woman at the other end of the
wire. She would make herself heard.
Patience, gentleness, firmness--a quiet concentration--all tell
immeasurably over the telephone wire.
Impatience, rudeness, indecision, and diffuseness blur communication
by telephone even more than they do when one is face to face with
the person talking.
It is as if the wire itself resented these inhuman phases of
humanity and spit back at the person who insulted it by trying to
transmit over it such unintelligent bosh.
There are people who feel that if they do not get an immediate
answer at the telephone they have a right to demand and get good
service by means of an angry telephonic sputter.
The result of this attempt to scold the telephone girl is often an
impulsive, angry response on her part--which she may be sorry for
later on--and if the service is more prompt for that time it reacts
later to what appears to be the same deficiency.
No one was ever kept steadily up to time by angry scolding. It is
To a demanding woman who is strained and tired herself, a wait of
ten seconds seems ten minutes. I have heard such a woman ring the
telephone bell almost without ceasing for fifteen minutes. I could
hear her strain and anger reflected in the ringing of the bell. When
finally she "got her party" the strain in her high-pitched voice
made it impossible for her to be clearly understood. Then she got
angry again because "Central" had not "given her a better
connection," and finally came away from the telephone nearly in a
state of nervous collapse and insisted that the telephone would
finally end her life. I do not think she once suspected that the
whole state of fatigue which had almost brought an illness upon her
was absolutely and entirely her own fault.
The telephone has no more to do with it than the floor has to do
with a child's falling and bumping his head.
The worst of this story is that if any one had told this woman that
her tired state was all unnecessary, it would have roused more
strain and anger, more fatigue, and more consequent illness.
Women must begin to find out their own deficiencies before they are
ready to accept suggestions which can lead to greater freedom and
more common sense.
Another place where science and inhuman humanity do not blend is in
the angry moving up and down of the telephone hook.
When the hook is moved quickly and without pause it does not give
time for the light before the telephone girl to flash, therefore she
cannot be reminded that any one is waiting at the other end.
When the hook is removed with even regularity and a quiet pause
between each motion then she can see the light and accelerate her
action in getting "the other party."
I have seen a man get so impatient at not having an immediate answer
that he rattled the hook up and down so fast and so vehemently as to
nearly break it. There is something tremendously funny about this.
The man is in a great hurry to speak to some one at the other end of
the telephone, and yet he takes every means to prevent the operator
from knowing what he wants by rattling his hook. In addition to this
his angry movement of the hook is fast tending to break the
telephone, so that he cannot use it at all. So do we interfere with
gaining what we need by wanting it overmuch!
I do not know that there has yet been formed a telephone etiquette;
but for the use of those who are not well bred by habit it would be
useful to put such laws on the first page of the telephone book. A
lack of consideration for others is often too evident in telephonic
A woman will ask her maid to get the number of a friend's house for
her and ask the friend to come to the telephone, and then keep her
friend waiting while she has time to be called by the maid and to
come to the telephone herself. This method of wasting other people's
time is not confined to women alone. Men are equal offenders, and
often greater ones, for the man at the other end is apt to be more
immediately busy than a woman under such circumstances.
To sum up: The telephone may be the means of increasing our
consideration for others; our quiet, decisive way of getting good
service; our patience, and, through the low voice placed close to
the transmitter, it may relieve us from nervous strain; for nerves
always relax with the voice.
Or the telephone may be the means of making us more selfish and
self-centered, more undecided and diffuse, more impatient, more
strained and nervous.
In fact, the telephones may help us toward health or illness. We
might even say the telephone may lead us toward heaven or toward
hell. We have our choice of roads in the way we use it.
It is a blessed convenience and if it proves a curse--we bring the
curse upon our own heads.
I speak of course only of the public who use the telephone. Those
who serve the public in the use of the telephone must have many
trials to meet, and, I dare say, are not always courteous and
patient. But certainly there can be no case of lagging or
discourtesy on the part of a telephone operator that is not promptly
rectified by a quiet, decided appeal to the "desk."
It is invariably the nervous strain and the anger that makes the
There may be one of these days a school for the better use of the
telephone; but such a school never need be established if every
intelligent man and woman will be his and her own school in
appreciating and acting upon the power gained if they compel
themselves to go with science--and never allow themselves to go
THERE is more nervous energy wasted, more nervous strain generated,
more real physical harm done by superfluous talking than any one
knows, or than any one could possibly believe who had not studied
it. I am not considering the harm done by what people say. We all
know the disastrous effects that follow a careless or malicious use
of the tongue. That is another question. I simply write of the
physical power used up and wasted by mere superfluous words, by
using one hundred words where ten will do--or one thousand words
where none at all were needed.
I once had been listening to a friend chatter, chatter, chatter to
no end for an hour or more, when the idea occurred to me to tell her
of an experiment I had tried by which my voice came more easily.
When I could get an opportunity to speak, I asked her if she had
ever tried taking a long breath and speaking as she let the breath
out. I had to insist a little to keep her mind on the suggestion at
all, but finally succeeded. She took a long breath and then stopped.
There was perhaps for half a minute a blessed silence, and then what
was my surprise to hear her remark: "I--I--can't think of anything
to say." "Try it again," I told her. She took another long breath,
and again gave up because she could not think of anything to say.
She did not like that little game very much, and thought she would
not make another effort, and in about three minutes she began the
chatter, and went on talking until some necessary interruption
This woman's talking was nothing more nor less than a nervous habit.
Her thought and her words were not practically connected at all. She
never said what she thought for she never thought. She never said
anything in answer to what was said to her, for she never listened.
Nervous talkers never do listen. That is one of their most striking
I knew of two well-known men--both great talkers--who were invited
to dine. Their host thought, as each man talked a great deal and--,
as he thought--talked very well, if they could meet their
interchange of ideas would be most delightful. Several days later he
met one of his guests in the street and asked how he liked the
friend whom he had met for the first time at his house.
"Very pleasant, very pleasant," the man said, "but he talks too
Not long after this the other guest accosted him unexpectedly in the
street "For Heaven's sake, don't ask me to dine with that Smith
again--why, I could not get a word in edgewise."
Now, if only for selfish reasons a man might realize that he needs
to absorb as well as give out, and so could make himself listen in
order to be sure that his neighbor did not get ahead of him. But a
conceited man, a self-centered man or a great talker will seldom or
That being the case, what can you expect of a woman who is a nervous
talker? The more tired such a woman is the more she talks; the more
ill she is the more she talks. As the habit of nervous talking grows
upon a woman it weakens her mind. Indeed, nervous talking is a
steadily weakening process.
Some women talk to forget. If they only knew it was slow mental
suicide and led to worse than death they would be quick to avoid
such false protection. If we have anything we want to forget we can
only forget it by facing it until we have solved the problem that it
places before us, and then working on, according to our best light:
We can never really cover a thing up in our minds by talking
constantly about something else.
Many women think they are going to persuade you of their point of
view by talking. A woman comes to you with her head full of an idea
and finds you do not agree with her. She will talk, talk, talk until
you are blind and sick and heartily wish you were deaf, in order to
prove to you that she is right and you are wrong.
She talks until you do not care whether you are right or wrong. You
only care for the blessed relief of silence, and when she has left
you, she has done all she could in that space of time to injure her
point of view. She has simply buried anything good that she might
have had to say in a cloud of dusty talk.
It is funny to hear such a woman say after a long interview, "Well,
at any rate, I gave him a good talking to. I guess he will go home
and think about it."
Think about it, madam? He will go home with an impression of rattle
and chatter and push that will make him dread the sight of your
face; and still more dread the sound of your voice, lest he be
subjected to further interviews. Women sit at work together. One
woman talks, talks, talks until her companions are so worn with the
constant chatter that they have neither head nor nerve enough to do
their work well. If they know how to let the chatter go on and turn
their attention away from it, so that it makes no impression, they
are fortunate indeed, and the practice is most useful to them. But
that does not relieve the strain of the nervous talker herself; she
is wearing herself out from day to day, and ruining her mind as well
as hurting the nerves and dispositions of those about her who do not
know how to protect themselves from her nervous talk.
Nervous talking is a disease.
Now the question is how to cure it. It can be cured, but the first
necessity is for a woman to know she has the disease. For, unlike
other diseases, the cure does not need a physician, but must be made
by the patient herself.
First, she must know that she has the disease. Fifty nervous talkers
might read this article, and not one of them recognize that it is
aimed straight at her.
The only remedy for that is for every woman who reads to believe
that she is a nervous talker until she has watched herself for a
month or more--without prejudice--and has discovered for a certainty
that she is not.
Then she is safe.
But what if she discover to her surprise and chagrin that she is a
nervous talker? What is the remedy for that? The first thing to do
is to own up the truth to herself without equivocation. To make no
excuses or explanations but simply to acknowledge the fact.
Then let her aim straight at the remedy--silence--steady, severe,
relaxed silence. Work from day to day and promise herself that for
that day she will say nothing but what is absolutely necessary. She
should not repress the words that want to come, but when she takes
breath to speak she must not allow the sentence to come out of her
mouth, but must instead relax all over, as far as it is possible,
and take a good, long, quiet breath. The next time she wants to
speak, even if she forgets so far as to get half the sentence out of
her mouth, stop it, relax, and take a long breath.
The mental concentration necessary to cure one's self of nervous
talking will gather together a mind that was gradually becoming
dissipated with the nervous talking habit, and so the life and
strength of the mind can be saved.
And, after that habit has been cured, the habit of quiet thinking
will begin, and what is said will be worth while.
_"Why Fuss so Much About What I Eat?"_
I KNOW a woman who insisted that it was impossible for her to eat
strawberries because they did not agree with her. A friend told her
that that was simply a habit of her mind. Once, at a time when her
stomach was tired or not in good condition for some other reason,
strawberries had not agreed with her, and from that time she had
taken it for granted that she could not eat strawberries. When she
was convinced by her friend that her belief that strawberries did
not agree with her was merely in her own idea, and not actually
true, she boldly ate a plate of strawberries. That night she woke
with indigestion, and the next morning she said "You see, I told you
they would not agree with me."
But her friend answered: "Why, of course you could not expect them
to agree right away, could you? Now try eating them again to-day."
This little lady was intelligent enough to want the strawberries to
agree with her and to be willing to do her part to adjust herself to
them, so she tried again and ate them the next day; and now she can
eat them every day right through the strawberry season and is all
the better for it.
This is the fact that we want to understand thoroughly and to look
out for. If we are impressed with the idea that any one food does
not agree with us, whenever we think of that food we contract, and
especially our stomachs contract. Now if our stomachs contract when
a food that we believe to disagree with us is merely mentioned, of
course they would contract all the more when we ate it. Naturally
our digestive organs would be handicapped by the contraction which
came from our attitude of mind and, of course, the food would appear
not to agree with us.
Take, for instance, people who are born with peculiar prenatal
impressions about their food. A woman whom I have in mind could not
take milk nor cream nor butter nor anything with milk or cream or
butter in it. She seemed really proud of her milk-and-cream
antipathy. She would air it upon all occasions, when she could do so
without being positively discourteous, and often she came very near
the edge of discourtesy. I never saw her even appear to make an
effort to overcome it, and it is perfectly true that a prenatal
impression like that can be overcome as entirely, as can a
personally acquired impression, although it may take a longer time
and a more persistent effort.
This anti-milk-and-cream lady was at work every day over-emphasizing
her milk-and-cream contractions; whereas if she had put the same
force into dropping the milk-and-cream contraction she would have
been using her will to great advantage, and would have helped
herself in many other ways as well as in gaining the ability to take
normally a very healthful food. We cannot hold one contraction
without having its influence draw us into many others. We cannot
give our attention to dropping one contraction without having the
influence of that one effort expand us in many other ways. Watch
people when they refuse food that is passed them at table; you can
see whether they refuse and at the same time contract against the
food, or whether they refuse with no contraction at all. I have seen
an expression of mild loathing on some women's faces when food was
passed which "did not agree with them," but they were quite
unconscious that their expressions had betrayed them.
Now, it is another fact that the contraction of the stomach at one
form of food will interfere with the good digestion of another form.
When cauliflower has been passed to us and we contract against it
how can we expect our stomachs to recover from that contraction in
time to digest perfectly the next vegetable which is passed and
which we may like very much? It may be said that we expand to the
vegetable we like, and that immediately counteracts the former
contraction to the vegetable which we do not like. That is true only
to a certain extent, for the tendency to cauliflower contraction is
there in the back of our brains influencing our stomachs all the
time, until we have actually used our wills consciously to drop it.
Edwin Booth used to be troubled very much with indigestion; he
suffered keenly from it. One day he went to dine with some intimate
friends, and before the dinner began his hostess said with a very
smiling face: "Now, Mr. Booth, I have been especially careful with
this dinner not to have one thing that you cannot digest."
The host echoed her with a hearty "Yes, Mr. Booth, everything that
will come to the table is good for your digestion."
The words made a very happy impression on Mr. Booth. First there was
the kind, sympathetic friendliness of his hosts; and then the strong
suggestion they had given him that their food would agree with him.
Then there was very happy and interesting talk during the whole time
that they were at table and afterward. Mr.. Booth ate a hearty
dinner and, true to the words of his host and hostess, not one
single thing disagreed with him. And yet at that dinner, although
care had been taken to have it wholesome, there were served things
that under other conditions would have disagreed.
While we should aim always to eat wholesome food, it is really not
so much the food which makes the trouble as the attitude we take
toward it and the way we test it.
All the contractions which are made by our fussing about food
interfere with our circulation; the interference with our
circulation makes us liable to take cold, and it is safe to say that
more than half the colds that women have are caused principally by
wrong eating. Somewhat akin to grandmother's looking for her
spectacles when all the time they are pushed to the top of her head
is the way women fuss about their eating and then wonder why it is
that they cannot seem to stand drafts.
There is no doubt but that our food should be thoroughly masticated
before it goes into our stomachs. There is no doubt but that the
first process of digestion should be in our mouths. The relish which
we get for our food by masticating it properly is greater and also
helps toward digesting it truly. All this cannot be over-emphasized
if it is taken in the right way. But there is an extreme which
perhaps has not been thought of and for which happily I have an
example that will illustrate what I want to prove. I know a woman
who was, so to speak, daft on the subject of health. She attended to
all points of health with such minute detail that she seemed to have
lost all idea of why we should be healthy. One of her ways of
over-emphasizing the road to health was a very careful mastication
of her food. She chewed and chewed and chewed and chewed, and the
result was that she so strained her stomach with her chewing that
she brought on severe indigestion, simply as a result of an
overactive effort toward digestion. This was certainly a case of
"vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself, and falls on the other."
And it was not unique.
The over-emphasis of "What shall I eat? How much shall I eat? How
often shall I eat? When shall I eat? How shall I eat?"--all extreme
attention to these questions is just as liable to bring chronic
indigestion as a reckless neglect of them altogether is liable to
upset a good, strong stomach and keep it upset. The woman who chewed
herself into indigestion fussed herself into it, too, by constantly
talking about what was not healthful to eat. Her breakfast, which
she took alone, was for a time the dryest-looking meal I ever saw.
It was enough to take away any one's healthy relish just to look at
it, if he was not forewarned.
Now our relish is one of our most blessed gifts. When we relish our
food our stomachs can digest it wholesomely. When we do not our
stomachs will not produce the secretions necessary to the most
wholesome digestion. Constant fussing about our food takes away our
relish. A gluttonous dwelling upon our food takes away our relish.
Relish is a delicate gift, and as we respect it truly, as we do not
degrade it to selfish ends nor kill it with selfish fastidiousness,
it grows upon us and is in its place like any other fine perception,
and is as greatly useful to the health of our bodies as our keener
and deeper perceptions are useful to the health of our minds.
Then there is the question of being sure that our stomachs are well
rested before we give them any work to do, and being sure that we
are quiet enough after eating to give our stomachs the best
opportunity to begin their work. Here again one extreme is just as
harmful as the other. I knew a woman who had what might be called
the fixed idea of health, who always used to sit bolt upright in a
high-backed chair for half an hour after dinner, and refuse to speak
or to be spoken to in order that "digestion might start in
properly." If I had been her stomach I should have said: "Madam,
when you have got through giving me your especial attention I will
begin my work--which, by the way, is not your work but mine!" And,
virtually, that is what her stomach did say. Sitting bolt upright
and consciously waiting for your food to begin digestion is an
over-attention to what is none of your business, which contracts
your brain, contracts your stomach and stops its work.
Our business is only to fulfill the conditions rightly. The French
workmen do that when they sit quietly after a meal talking of their
various interests. Any one can fulfill the conditions properly by
keeping a little quiet, having some pleasant chat, reading a bright
story or taking life easy in any quiet way for half an hour. Or, if
work must begin directly after eating, begin it quietly. But this
feeling that it is our business to attend to the working functions
of our stomachs is officious and harmful. We must fulfill the
conditions and then forget our stomachs. If our stomachs remind us
of themselves by some misbehavior we must seek for the cause and
remedy it, but we should not on any account feel that the cause is
necessarily in the food we have eaten. It may be, and probably often
is, entirely back of that. A quick, sharp resistance to something
that is said will often cause indigestion. In that case we must stop
resisting and not blame the food. A dog was once made to swallow a
little bullet with his food and then an X-ray was thrown on to his
stomach in order that the process of digestion might be watched by
means of the bullet. When the dog was made angry the bullet stopped,
which meant that the digestion stopped; when the dog was
over-excited in any way digestion stopped. When he was calmed down
it went on again.
There are many reasons why we should learn to meet life without
useless resistance, and the health of our stomachs is not the least.
It would surprise most people if they could know how much
unnecessary strain they put on their stomachs by eating too much. A
nervous invalid had a very large appetite. She was helped twice,
sometimes three times, to meat and vegetables at dinner. She thought
that what she deemed her very healthy appetite was a great blessing
to her, and often remarked upon it, as also upon her idea that so
much good, nourishing food must be helping to make her well. And yet
she wondered why she did not gain faster.
Now the truth of the matter was that this invalid had a nervous
appetite. Not only did she not need one third of the food she ate,
but indeed the other two thirds was doing her positive harm. The tax
which she put upon her stomach to digest so much food drained her
nerves every day, and of course robbed her brain, so that she ate
and ate and wept and wept with nervous depression. When it was
suggested to her by a friend who understood nerves that she would
get better very much faster if she would eat very much less she made
a rule to take only one helping of anything, no matter how much she
might feel that she wanted another. Very soon she began to gain
enough to see for herself that she had been keeping herself ill with
overeating, and it was not many days before she did not want a
Nervous appetites are not uncommon even among women who consider
themselves pretty well. Probably there are not five in a hundred
among all the well-fed men and women in this country who would not
be more healthy if they ate less.
Then there are food notions to be looked out for and out of which
any one can relax by giving a little intelligent attention to the
"I do not like eggs. I am tired of them." "Dear, dear me! I ate so
much ice cream that it made me ill, and it has made me ill to think
of it ever since."
Relax, drop the contraction, pretend you had never tasted ice cream
before, and try to eat a little--not for the sake of the ice cream,
but for the sake of getting that knot out of your stomach.
"But," you will say, "can every one eat everything?"
"Yes," the answer is, "everything that is really good, wholesome
food is all right for anybody to eat."
But you say: "Won't you allow for difference of tastes?"
And the answer to that is: "Of course we can like some foods more
than others, but there is a radical difference between unprejudiced
preferences and prejudiced dislikes."
Our stomachs are all right if we will but fulfill their most simple
conditions and then leave them alone. If we treat them right they
will tell us what is good for them and what is not good for them,
and if we will only pay attention, obey them as a matter of course
without comment and then forget them, there need be no more fuss
about food and very much less nervous irritability.
_Take Care of Your Stomach_
WE all know that we have a great deal to do. Some of us have to work
all day to earn our bread and butter and then work a good part of
the night to make our clothes. Some of us have to stand all day
behind a counter. Some of us have to sit all day and sew for others,
and all night to sew for ourselves and our children. Most of us have
to do work that is necessary or work that is self-imposed. Many of
us feel busy without really being busy at all. But how many of us
realize that while we are doing work outside, our bodies themselves
have good, steady work to do inside.
Our lungs have to take oxygen from the air and give it to our blood;
our blood has to carry it all through our bodies and take away the
waste by means of the steady pumping of our hearts. Our stomachs
must digest the food put into them, give the nourishment in it to
the blood, and see that the waste is cast off.
All this work is wholesome and good, and goes on steadily, giving us
health and strength and new power; but if we, through mismanagement,
make heart or lungs or stomach work harder than they should, then
they must rob us of power to accomplish what we give them to do, and
we blame them, instead of blaming ourselves for being hard and
The strain in a stomach necessary to the digesting of too much food,
or the wrong kind of food, makes itself felt in strain all through
the whole system.
I knew a woman whose conscience was troubling her very greatly. She
was sure she had done many very selfish things for which there was
no excuse, and that she herself was greatly to blame for other
people's troubles. This was a very acute attack of conscience,
accompanied by a very severe stomach ache. The doctor was called in
and gave her an emetic. She threw a large amount of undigested food
from her stomach, and after that relief the weight on her conscience
was lifted entirely and she had nothing more to blame herself with
than any ordinary, wholesome woman must have to look out for every
day of her life.
This is a true story and should be practically useful to readers who
need it. This woman's stomach had been given too much to do. It
worked hard to do its work well, and had to rob the brain and
nervous system in the effort. This effort brought strain to the
whole brain, which was made evident in the region of the conscience.
It might have come out in some other form. It might have appeared in
irritability. It might even have shown itself in downright ugliness.
Whatever the effects are, whether exaggerated conscience,
exaggerated anxiety, or irritability, the immediate cause of the
trouble in such cases as I refer to is in the fact that the stomach
has been given too much to do.
We give the stomach too much to do if we put a great deal of food
into it when it is tired. We give it too much to do if we put into
it the wrong kind of food. We give it too much to do if we insist
upon working hard ourselves, either with body or brain, directly
after a hearty meal.
No matter how busy we are we can protect our stomachs against each
and all of these three causes of trouble.
If a woman is very tired her stomach must necessarily be very tired
also. If she can remember that at such times even though she may be
very hungry, her body is better nourished if she takes slowly a cup
of hot milk, and waits until she is more rested before taking solid
food, than if she ate a hearty meal. It will save a strain, and
perhaps eventually severe illness.
If it is possible to rest and do absolutely nothing for half an hour
before a meal, and for half an hour after that insures the best work
for our digestion. If one is pretty well, and cannot spare the half
hour, ten or fifteen minutes will do, unless there is a great deal
of fatigue to be conquered.
If it is necessary to work right up to mealtime, let up a little
before stopping. As the time for dinner approaches do not work quite
so hard; the work will not lose; in the end it will gain--and when
you begin work again begin lightly, and get into the thick of it
gradually. That gives your stomach a good chance.
If possible get a long rest before the last meal, and if your day is
very busy, it is better to have the heartiest meal at the end of it,
to take a good rest afterward and then a walk in the fresh air,
which may be long or short, according to what other work you have to
do or according to how tired you are.
I know many women will say: "But I am tired all the time; if I
waited to rest before I ate, I should starve."
The answer to that is "protect your stomach as well as you can. If
you cannot rest before and after each meal try to arrange some way
by which you can get rid of a little fatigue."
If you do this with attention and interest you will find gradually
that you are less tired all the time, and as you keep on steadily
toward the right path, you may be surprised some day to discover
that you are only tired half the time, and perhaps even reach the
place where the tired feeling will be the exception.
It takes a good while to get our misused stomachs into wholesome
ways, but if we are persistent and intelligent we can surely do it,
and the relief to the overstrained stomach--as I have said--means
relief to the whole body.
Resting before and after meals amounts to very little, however, if
we eat food that is not nourishing.
Some people are so far out of the normal way of eating that they
have lost a wholesome sense of what is good for them, and live in a
chronic state of disordered stomach, which means a chronic state of
disordered nerves and disposition. If such persons could for one
minute literally experience the freedom of a woman whose body was
truly and thoroughly nourished, the contrast from the abnormal to
the normal would make them dizzy. If, however, they stayed in the
normal place long enough to get over the dizziness, the freedom of
health would be so great a delight that food that was not nourishing
would be nauseous to them.
Most of us are near enough the normal to know the food that is best
for us, through experience of suffering from food which is not best
for us, as well as through good natural instinct.
If we would learn from the normal working of the involuntary action
of our organs, it might help us greatly toward working more
wholesomely in all our voluntary actions.
If every woman who reads this article would study not to interfere
with the most healthy action of her own stomach, her reward after a
few weeks' persistent care would be not only a greater power for
work, but a greater power for good, healthy, recuperative rest.
WATCH the faces as you walk along the street! If you get the habit
of noticing, your observations will grow keener. It is surprising to
see how seldom we find a really quiet face. I do not mean that there
should be no lines in the face. We are here in this world at school
and we cannot have any real schooling unless we have real
experiences. We cannot have real experiences without suffering, and
suffering which comes from the discipline of life and results in
character leaves lines in our faces. It is the lines made by
unnecessary strain to which I refer.
Strange to say the unquiet faces come mostly from shallow feeling.
Usually the deeper the feeling the less strain there is on the face.
A face may look troubled, it may be full of pain, without a touch of
that strain which comes from shallow worry or excitement.
The strained expression takes character out of the face, it weakens
it, and certainly it detracts greatly from whatever natural beauty
there may have been to begin with. The expression which comes from
pain or any suffering well borne gives character to the face and
adds to its real beauty as well as its strength.
To remove the strained expression we must remove the strain behind;
therefore the hardest work we have to do is below the surface. The
surface work is comparatively easy.
I know a woman whose face is quiet and placid. The lines are really
beautiful, but they are always the same. This woman used to watch
herself in the glass until she had her face as quiet and free from
lines as she could get it--she used even to arrange the corners of
her mouth with her fingers until they had just the right droop.
Then she observed carefully how her face felt with that placid
expression and studied to keep it always with that feeling, until by
and by her features were fixed and now the placid face is always
there, for she has established in her brain an automatic vigilance
over it that will not allow the muscles once to get "out of
What kind of an old woman this acquaintance of mine will make I do
not know. I am curious to see her--but now she certainly is a most
remarkable hypocrite. The strain in behind the mask of a face which
she has made for herself must be something frightful. And indeed I
believe it is, for she is ill most of the time--and what could keep
one in nervous illness more entirely than this deep interior strain
which is necessary to such external appearance of placidity.
There comes to my mind at once a very comical illustration of
something quite akin to this although at first thought it seems
almost the reverse. A woman who constantly talked of the
preeminency of mind over matter, and the impossibility of being
moved by external circumstances to any one who believed as she
did--this woman I saw very angry.
She was sitting with her face drawn in a hundred cross lines and all
askew with her anger. She had been spouting and sputtering what she
called her righteous indignation for some minutes, when after a
brief pause and with the angry expression still on her face she
exclaimed: "Well, I don't care, it's all peace within."
I doubt if my masked lady would ever have declared to herself or to
any one else that "it was all peace within." The angry woman
was--without doubt--the deeper hypocrite, but the masked woman had
become rigid in her hypocrisy. I do not know which was the weaker of
the two, probably the one who was deceiving herself.
But to return to those drawn, strained lines we see on the people
about us. They do not come from hard work or deep thought. They come
from unnecessary contractions about the work. If we use our wills
consistently and steadily to drop such contractions, the result is a
more quiet and restful way of living, and so quieter and more
This unquietness comes especially in the eyes. It is a rare thing to
see a really quiet eye; and very pleasant and beautiful it is when
we do see it. And the more we see and observe the unquiet eyes and
the unquiet faces the better worth while it seems to work to have
ours more quiet, but not to put on a mask, or be in any other way a
The exercise described in a previous chapter will help to bring a
quiet face. We must drop our heads with a sense of letting every
strain go out of our faces, and then let our heads carry our bodies
down as far as possible, dropping strain all the time, and while
rising slowly we must take the same care to drop all strain.
In taking the long breath, we must inhale without effort, and exhale
so easily that it seems as if the breath went out of itself, like
the balloons that children blow up and then watch them shrink as the
air leaves them.
Five minutes a day is very little time to spend to get a quiet face,
but just that five minutes--if followed consistently--will make us
so much more sensitive to the unquiet that we will sooner or later
turn away from it as by a natural instinct.
I KNEW an old German--a wonderful teacher of the speaking voice--who
said "the ancients believed that the soul of the man is
here"--pointing to the pit of his stomach. "I do not know," and he
shrugged his shoulders with expressive interest, "it may be and it
may not be--but I know the soul of the voice is here--and you
Americans--you squeeze the life out of the word in your throat and
it is born dead."
That old artist spoke the truth--we Americans--most of us--do
squeeze the life out of our words and they are born dead. We squeeze
the life out by the strain which runs all through us and reflects
itself especially in our voices. Our throats are tense and closed;
our stomachs are tense and strained; with many of us the word is
dead before it is born.
Watch people talking in a very noisy place; hear how they scream at
the top of their lungs to get above the noise. Think of the amount
of nervous force they use in their efforts to be heard.
Now really when we are in the midst of a great noise and want to be
heard, what we have to do is to pitch our voices on a different key
from the noise about us. We can be heard as well, and better, if we
pitch our voices on a lower key than if we pitch them on a higher
key; and to pitch your voice on a low key requires very much less
effort than to strain to a high one.
I can imagine talking with some one for half an hour in a noisy
factory--for instance--and being more rested at the end of the half
hour than at the beginning. Because to pitch your voice low you must
drop some superfluous tension and dropping superfluous tension is
I beg any or all of my readers to try this experiment the next time
they have to talk with a friend in a noisy street. At first the
habit of screaming above the noise of the wheels is strong on us and
it seems impossible that we should be heard if we speak below it. It
is difficult to pitch our voices low and keep them there. But if we
persist until we have formed a new habit, the change is delightful.
There is one other difficulty in the way; whoever is listening to us
may be in the habit of hearing a voice at high tension and so find
it difficult at first to adjust his ear to the lower voice and will
in consequence insist that the lower tone cannot be heard as easily.
It seems curious that our ears can be so much engaged in expecting
screaming that they cannot without a positive effort of the mind
readjust in order to listen to a lower tone. But it is so. And,
therefore, we must remember that to be thoroughly successful in
speaking intelligently below the noise we must beg our listeners to
change the habit of their ears as we ourselves must change the pitch
of our voices.
The result both to speaker and listener is worth the effort ten
As we habitually lower the pitch of our voices our words cease
gradually to be "born dead." With a low-pitched voice everything
pertaining to the voice is more open and flexible and can react more
immediately to whatever may be in our minds to express.
Moreover, the voice itself may react back again upon our
dispositions. If a woman gets excited in an argument, especially if
she loses her temper, her voice will be raised higher and higher
until it reaches almost a shriek. And to hear two women "argue"
sometimes it may be truly said that we are listening to a
"caterwauling." That is the only word that will describe it.
But if one of these women is sensitive enough to know she is
beginning to strain in her argument and will lower her voice and
persist in keeping it lowered the effect upon herself and the other
woman will put the "caterwauling" out of the question.
"Caterwauling" is an ugly word. It describes an ugly sound. If you
have ever found yourself in the past aiding and abetting such an
ugly sound in argument with another--say to yourself "caterwauling,"
"caterwauling," "I have been 'caterwauling' with Jane Smith, or
Maria Jones," or whoever it may be, and that will bring out in such
clear relief the ugliness of the word and the sound that you will
turn earnestly toward a more quiet way of speaking.
The next time you start on the strain of an argument and your voice
begins to go up, up, up--something will whisper in your ear
"caterwauling" and you will at once, in self-defense, lower your
voice or stop speaking altogether.
It is good to call ugly things by their ugliest names. It helps us
to see them in their true light and makes us more earnest in our
efforts to get away from them altogether.
I was once a guest at a large reception and the noise of talking
seemed to be a roar, when suddenly an elderly man got up on a chair
and called "silence," and having obtained silence he said, "it has
been suggested that every one in this room should speak in a lower
tone of voice."
The response was immediate. Every one went on talking with the same
interest only in a lower tone of voice with a result that was both
delightful and soothing.
I say every one--there were perhaps half a dozen whom I observed who
looked and I have no doubt said "how impudent." So it was "impudent"
if you chose to take it so--but most of the people did not choose to
take it so and so brought a more quiet atmosphere and a happy change
Theophile Gautier said that the voice was nearer the soul
than any other expressive part of us. It is certainly a very
striking indicator of the state of the soul. If we accustom
ourselves to listen to the voices of those about us we detect more
and more clearly various qualities of the man or the woman in the
voice, and if we grow sensitive to the strain in our own voices and
drop it at once when it is perceived, we feel a proportionate gain.
I knew of a blind doctor who habitually told character by the tone
of the voice, and men and women often went to him to have their
characters described as one would go to a palmist.
Once a woman spoke to him earnestly for that purpose and he replied,
"Madam, your voice has been so much cultivated that there is nothing
of you in it--I cannot tell your real character at all." The only
way to cultivate a voice is to open it to its best
possibilities--not to teach its owner to pose or to imitate a
beautiful tone until it has acquired the beautiful tone habit. Such
tones are always artificial and the unreality in them can be easily
detected by a quick ear.
Most great singers are arrant hypocrites. There is nothing of
themselves in their tone. The trouble is to have a really beautiful
voice one must have a really beautiful soul behind it.
If you drop the tension of your voice in an argument for the sake of
getting a clearer mind and meeting your opponent without resistance,
your voice helps your mind and your mind helps your voice.
They act and react upon one another with mutual benefit. If you
lower your voice in general for the sake of being more quiet, and so
more agreeable and useful to those about you, then again the mental
or moral effort and the physical effort help one another.
It adds greatly to a woman's attraction and to her use to have a
low, quiet voice--and if any reader is persisting in the effort to
get five minutes absolute quiet in every day let her finish the
exercise by saying something in a quiet, restful tone of voice.
It will make her more sensitive to her unrestful tones outside, and
so help her to improve them.
HERE are two true stories and a remarkable contrast. A nerve
specialist was called to see a young girl who had had nervous
prostration for two years. The physician was told before seeing the
patient that the illness had started through fright occasioned by
the patient's waking and discovering a burglar in her room.
Almost the moment the doctor entered the sick room, he was accosted
with: "Doctor, do you know what made me ill? It was frightful." Then
followed a minute description of her sudden awakening and seeing the
man at her bureau drawers.
This story had been lived over and over by the young girl and her
friends for two years, until the strain in her brain caused by the
repetition of the impression of fright was so intense that no skill
nor tact seemed able to remove it. She simply would not let it go,
and she never got really well.
Now, see the contrast. Another young woman had a similar burglar
experience, and for several nights after she woke with a start at
the same hour. For the first two or three nights she lay and
shivered until she shivered herself to sleep.
Then she noticed how tightened up she was in every muscle when she
woke, and she bethought herself that she would put her mind on
relaxing her muscles and getting rid of the tension in her nerves.
She did this persistently, so that when she woke with the burglar
fright it was at once a reminder to relax.
After a little she got the impression that she woke in order to
relax and it was only a very little while before she succeeded so
well that she did not wake until it was time to get up in the
The burglar impression not only left her entirely, but left her with
the habit of dropping all contractions before she went to sleep, and
her nerves are stronger and more normal in consequence.
The two girls had each a very sensitive, nervous temperament, and
the contrast in their behavior was simply a matter of intelligence.
This same nerve specialist received a patient once who was
positively blatant in her complaint of a nervous shock. "Doctor, I
have had a horrible nervous shock. It was horrible. I do not see how
I can ever get over it."
Then she told it and brought the horrors out in weird, over-vivid
colors. It was horrible, but she was increasing the horrors by the
way in which she dwelt on it.
Finally, when she paused long enough to give the doctor an
opportunity to speak, he said, very quietly: "Madam, will you kindly
say to me, as gently as you can, 'I have had a severe nervous
shock.'" She looked at him without a gleam of understanding and
repeated the words quietly: "I have had a severe nervous shock."
In spite of herself she felt the contrast in her own brain. The
habitual blatancy was slightly checked. The doctor then tried to
impress upon her the fact that she was constantly increasing the
strain of the shock by the way she spoke of it and the way she
thought of it, and that she was really keeping herself ill.
Gradually, as she learned to relax the nervous tension caused by the
shock, a true intelligence about it all dawned upon her; the
over-vivid colors faded, and she got well. She was surprised herself
at the rapidity with which she got well, but she seemed to
understand the process and to be moderately grateful for it.
If she had had a more sensitive temperament she would have
appreciated it all the more keenly; but if she had had a more
sensitive temperament she would not have been blatant about her
I KNOW a woman who says that if she wants to get her father's
consent to anything, she not only appears not to care whether he
consents or not, but pretends that her wishes are exactly opposite
to what they really are. She says it never fails; the decision has
always been made in opposition to her expressed desires, and
according to her real wishes. In other words, she has learned how to