(FORMERLY HEALTH AND EFFICIENCY)
By R. L. ALSAKER, M. D.
AUTHOR OF "EATING FOR HEALTH AND EFFICIENCY"
"When you arise in the morning, think what a precious privilege it is to live, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." —MARCUS AURELIUS.
"Nature Cures" —HIPPOCRATES
TO ISAAC T. COOK
WHOSE CRITICISMS, ASSISTANCE AND ENCOURAGEMENT HAVE LIGHTENED THE LABOR AND ADDED TO THE PLEASURE OF PRODUCING THIS VOLUME.
I PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS Humanity, Health and Healers
II MENTAL ATTITUDE Correct and Incorrect—Results
III FOOD General Consideration
V DAILY FOOD INTAKE
VI WHAT TO EAT
VII WHEN TO EAT
VIII HOW TO EAT
IX CLASSIFICATION OF FOODS
X FLESH FOODS Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations
XI NUTS Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations
XII LEGUMES Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations
XIII SUCCULENT VEGETABLES Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations—Salads
XIV CEREAL FOODS Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations
XV TUBERS Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations
XVI FRUITS Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations—Salads
XVII OILS AND FATS
XVIII MILK AND OTHER DAIRY PRODUCTS Composition—Utility—Preparation—Combinations
XIX MENUS Food Combination in General
XX DRINK Water—Tea—Coffee—Alcohol—Enslaving Drugs
XXI CARE OF THE SKIN Baths—Friction—Clothing
XXIII BREATHING AND VENTILATION
XXV FASTING Our Most Important Remedy—Symptoms—When and How to Fast—Cases
XXVI ATTITUDE OF PARENT TOWARD CHILD
XXVII CHILDREN Prenatal Care—Infancy—Childhood—Mental Training
XXVIII DURATION OF LIFE Advanced Years—Living to Old Age in Health and Comfort
XXIX EVOLVING INTO HEALTH How it is Often Done—A Case
XXX RETROSPECT A Summing-up of the Subject
Writings on hygiene and health have been accessible for centuries, but never before have books and magazines on these subjects been as numerous as they are today. Most of the information is so general, vague and indefinite that only a few have the time and patience to read the thousands of pages necessary to learn what to do to keep well. The truth is to be found in the archives of medicine, in writings covering a period of over thirty centuries, but it is rather difficult to find the grains of truth.
Health is the most valuable of all possessions, for with health one can attain anything else within reason. A few of the great people of the world have been sickly, but it takes men and women sound in body and mind to do the important work. Healthy men and women are a nation's most valuable asset.
It is natural to be healthy, but we have wandered so far astray that disease is the rule and good health the exception. Of course, most people are well enough to attend to their work, but nearly all are suffering from some ill, mental or physical, acute or chronic, which deprives them of a part of their power. The average individual is of less value to himself, to his family and to society than he could be. His bad habits, of which he is often not aware, have brought weakness and disease upon him. These conditions prevent him from doing his best mentally and physically.
This abnormal condition has a bad effect upon his descendants, who may not be born with any special defects, but they have less resistance at birth than is their due, and consequently fall prey to disease very easily. This state of impaired resistance has been passed on from generation to generation, and we of today are passing it on as a heritage to our children.
About 280,000 babies under the age of one year die annually in the United States. The average lifetime is only a little more than forty years. It should be at least one hundred years. This is a very conservative statement, for many live to be considerably older, and it is within the power of each individual to prolong his life beyond what is now considered old age.
Under favorable conditions people should live in comfort and health to the age of one hundred years or more, useful and in full possession of their faculties. Barring accidents, which should be less numerous when people fully realize that unreasonable haste and speed are wasteful and that life is more valuable than accumulated wealth, human life could and should be a certainty. There should be no sudden deaths resulting from the popular diseases of today. In fact, pneumonia, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, cancer and various other ills that are fatal to the vast majority of the race, should and could be abolished. This may sound idealistic, but though such results are not probable in the near future, they are possible.
All civilized nations of which we have record, except the Chinese, have decayed after growing and flourishing a few centuries, usually about a thousand years or less. Many reasons are given for the decline and fall of nations. Rome especially furnishes food for much thought. However, look into the history of each known nation that has risen to prominence, glory and power, and you will find that so long as they kept in close contact with the soil they flourished. With the advance of civilization the peoples change their mode of life from simplicity to luxuriousness and complexity. Thus individuals decay and in the end there is enough individual decay to result in national degeneration. When this process has advanced far enough these people are unable to hold their own. In the severe competitition of nations the strain is too great and they perish. There is a point of refinement beyond which people can not go and survive.
From luxury nations are plunged into hardship. Then their renewed contact with the soil gradually causes their regeneration, if they have enough vitality left to rise again. Such is the history of the Italians. Many others, like the once great Egyptians, whose civilization was very far advanced and who became so dissolute that a virtuous woman was a curiosity, have been unable to recover, even after a lapse of many centuries. The degenerated nations are like diseased individuals: Some have gone so far on the road to ruin that they are doomed to die. Others can slowly regain their health by mending their ways.
Nations, like individuals, generally do better in moderate circumstances than in opulence. Nearly all can stand poverty, but only the exceptional individual or nation can bear up under riches. Nature demands of us that we exercise both body and mind.
Civilization is not inimical to health and long life. In fact, the contrary is true, for as the people advance they learn to master the forces of nature and with these forces under control they are able to lead better, healthier lives, but if they become too soft and luxurious there is decay of moral and physical fibre, and in the end the nation must fall, for its individual units are unworthy of survival in a world which requires an admixture of brain and brawn.
Civilization is favorable to long life so long as the people are moderate and live simply, but when it degenerates to sensuous softness, individual and racial deterioration ensue. Among savages the infant mortality is very great, but such ills as cancer, tuberculosis, smallpox and Bright's disease are rare. These are luxuries which are generally introduced with civilization. Close housing, too generous supply of food, too little exercise and alcohol are some of the fatal blessings which civilized man introduces among savages.
A part of the price we must pay for being civilized is the exercise of considerable self-control and self-denial, otherwise we must suffer.
The state of the individual health is not satisfactory. There is too much illness, too much suffering and too many premature deaths. It is estimated that in our country about three millions of people are ill each day, on the average. The monetary loss is tremendous and the anguish and suffering are beyond estimate.
The race is losing every year a vast army of individuals who are in their productive prime. When a part of a great city is destroyed men give careful consideration to the material loss and plan to prevent a recurrence. But that is nothing compared to the loss we suffer from the annual death of a host of experienced men and women. Destroyed business blocks can be replaced, but it is impossible to replace men and women.
We look upon this unnecessary waste of life complacently because we are used to it and consequently think that it is natural. It is neither necessary nor natural. If we would read and heed nature's writings it would cease. Then people would live until their time came to fade away peacefully and beautifully, as do the golden leaves of autumn or the blades of grass.
Many dread old age because they think of it in connection with decrepitude, helplessness and the childish querulousness popularly associated with advancing years. This is not a natural old age; it is disease. Natural old age is sweet, tolerant and cheerful. There are few things in life more precious than the memory of parents and grandparents grown old gracefully, after having weathered the storms of appetites and passions, the mind firmly enthroned and filled with the calm toleration and wisdom that come with the passing years of a well spent life.
A busy mind in a healthy body does not degenerate. The brain, though apparently unstable, is one of the most stable parts of the body.
We should desire and acquire health because when healthy we are at our maximum efficiency. We are able to enjoy life. We have greater capacity for getting and giving. We live more fully. Being normal, we are in harmony with ourselves and with our associates. We are of greater value all around. We are better citizens.
Every individual owes something to the race. It is our duty to contribute our part so that the result of our lives is not a tendency toward degeneration, but toward upbuilding, of the race. The part played by each individual is small, but the aggregate is great. If our children are better born and better brought up than we were, and there is generally room for improvement, we have at least helped.
Health is within the grasp of all who are not afflicted with organic disease, and the vast majority have no organic ills. All that is necessary is to lead natural lives and learn how to use the mind properly. Those who are not in sympathy with the views on racial duty can enhance their personal worth through better living without giving the race any thought. Every individual who leads a natural life and thinks to advantage helps to bring about better public health. The national health is the aggregate of individual health and is improved as the individuals evolve into better health. National or racial improvement come through evolution, not through revolution. The improvement is due to small contributions from many sources.
The greatest power for human uplift is knowledge. Reformers often believe that they can improve the world by legislation. Lasting reform comes through education. If the laws are very repressive the reaction is both great and unpleasant.
It takes about six months to learn stenography. It requires a long apprenticeship to become a first-class blacksmith or horseshoer. To obtain the rudiments of a physician's art it is necessary to spend four to six years in college. To learn a language takes an apt pupil at least a year. A lawyer must study from two to four years to become a novice. A businessman must work many years before he is an expert in his line. Not one of these attainments is worth as much as good health, yet an individual of average intelligence can obtain enough knowledge about right living during his spare time in from two to six months to assure him of good health, if he lives as well as he knows how. Is it worth while? It certainly is, for it is one of the essentials of life. Health will increase one's earning capacity and productivity and more than double both the pleasure and the duration of life.
Disease is a very expensive luxury. Health is one of the cheapest, though one of the rarest, things on earth. There is no royal road to health. If there is any law of health it is this: Only those will retain it permanently who are deserving of it.
Many prefer to live in that state of uncertainty, which may be called tolerable health, a state in which they do not suffer, yet are not quite well. In this condition they have their little ups and downs and occasionally a serious illness, which too often proves fatal. Even such people ought to acquire health knowledge, for the time may come when they will desire to enjoy life to the fullest, which they can do only when they have health. Those who have this knowledge are often able to help themselves quickly and effectively when no one else can.
I am acquainted with many who have been educated out of disease into health. Many of them are indiscreet, but they have learned to know the signs of approaching trouble and they ease up before anything serious overtakes them. In this way they save themselves and their families from much suffering, much anxiety and much expense. Every adult should know enough to remain well. Every one should know the signs of approaching illness and how to abort it. The mental comfort and ease that come from the possession of such knowledge are priceless.
Everything that is worth while must be paid for in some way and the price of continued good health is some basic knowledge and self-control. There are no hardships connected with rational living. It means to live moderately and somewhat more simply than is customary. Simplicity reduces the amount of work and friction and adds to the enjoyment of life. The cheerfulness, the buoyancy and the tingling with the joy of life that come to those who have perfect health more than compensate for the pet bad habits which must be given up.
Many of the popular teachings regarding disease and its prevention are false. The germ theory is a delusion. The fact will some day be generally recognized, as it is today by a few, that the so-called pathogenic bacteria or germs have no power to injure a healthy body, that there is bodily degeneration first and then the system becomes a favorable culture medium for germs: In other words, disease comes first and the pathogenic bacteria multiply afterwards. This view may seem very ridiculous to the majority, for it is a strong tenet of popular medical belief today that micro-organisms are the cause of most diseases.
To most people, medical and lay, the various diseases stand out clear and individual. Typhoid fever is one disease. Pneumonia is an entirely different one. Surely this is so, they say, for is not typhoid fever due to the bacillus typhosus and pneumonia to the pneumococcus? But it is not so. Outside of mechanical injuries there is but one disease, and the various conditions that we dignify with individual names are but manifestations of this disease. The parent disease is filthiness, and its manifestations vary according to circumstances and individuals.
This filthiness is not of the skin, but of the interior of the body. The blood stream becomes unclean, principally because of indigestion and constipation, which are chiefly due to improper eating habits. Some of the contributory causes are wrong thinking, too little exercise, lack of fresh air, and ingestion of sedatives and stimulants which upset the assimilative and excretory functions of the body. In all cases the blood is unclean. The patient is suffering from autointoxication or autotoxemia.
If this is true, it would follow that the treatment of all diseases is about the same. For instance, it would be necessary to give about the same treatment for eczema as for pneumonia. Basically, that is exactly what has to be done to obtain the best results, though the variation in location and manifestation requires that special relief measures, of lesser importance, be used in special cases, to get the quickest and best results. In both eczema and pneumonia the essential thing is to get the body clean.
The practice of medicine is not a science. We have drugs that are reputed to be excellent healers, yet these very drugs sometimes produce death within a few hours of being taken. The practice of medicine is an art, and the outcome in various cases depends more on the personality of the artist than on the drugs he gives, for roughly speaking, all medicines are either sedative or stimulant, and if the dosage is kept below the danger line, the patient generally recovers. It seems to make very little difference whether the medicine is given in the tiny homeopathic doses, so small that they have only a suggestive effect, or if they are given in doses several hundred times as large by allopaths and eclectics.
It is true that we have drugs with which we can diminish or increase the number of heart beats per minute, dilate or contract the pupils of the eye, check or stimulate the secretion of mucus, sedate or irritate the nervous system, etc., but all that is accomplished is temporary stimulation or sedation, and such juggling does not cure. The practice of medicine is today what it has been in the past, largely experiment and guess-work.
On the other hand, natural healers who have drunk deep of the cup of knowledge need not guess. They know that withholding of food and cleaning out the alimentary tract will reduce a fever. They know that the same measures will clean up foul wounds and stop the discharge of pus in a short time. They know that the same measures in connection with hot baths will terminate headaches and remove pain. They further know that if the patient will take the proper care of himself after the acute manifestations have disappeared there will be no more disease. After a little experience, an intelligent natural healer can tell his patients, in the majority of cases, what to expect if instructions are followed. He can say positively that there will be no relapses and no complications.
How different is this from the unsatisfactory practice of conventional medicine! However, most physicians refuse to accept the valuable teachings which are offered to them freely, and one of the reasons is that the natural healers do not present their knowledge in scientific form. The knowledge is scientific but it is simple. Such objection does not come with good grace from a profession practicing an art. Life is but a tiny part science, mixed with much art.
The true scientist in the healing art is he who can take an invalid and by the use of the means at his command bring him back to health, not in an accidental manner, but in such a knowing way that he can predict the outcome. In serious cases the natural healer of intelligence and experience can do this twenty times where the man who relies on drugs does it once. The physicians who prescribe drugs are ever on the look-out for complications and relapses, and they have many of them. The natural healers know that under proper treatment neither complications nor relapses can occur, unless the disease has already advanced so far that the vital powers are exhausted before treatment is begun, and this is generally not the case. In this book many of the medical fallacies of today, both professional and lay, will be touched upon in a kindly spirit of helpfulness and ideas that contain more truth will be offered in their place. The truth is the best knowledge we have today, according to our understanding. It is not fixed, for it may be replaced by something better tomorrow. However, one fundamental truth regarding health will never change, namely, that it is necessary to conform to the laws of nature, or in other words, the laws of our being, in order to retain it.
No one can cover the field of health completely, for though it is very simple, it is as big as life. The most helpful parts of this book will be those which point the way for each individual to understand his relation to what we call nature, and hence help to enable him to gain a better understanding of himself.
By natural living is not meant the discarding of the graces of civilization and roaming about in adamic costume, living on the foods as they are found in forest and field, without preparation. What is meant is the adjustment of each person to his environment, or the environment to the person, until harmony or balance is established, which means health.
One of the most difficult things about teaching health is that it is so very simple. People look for something mysterious. When told that good old mother nature is the only healer, they are incredulous, for they have been taught that doctors cure. When informed that they do not need medicine and that outside treatment is unnecessary, they find it difficult to believe, for disease has always called for treatment of some kind in the hands of the medical profession. When further told that they have to help themselves by living so that they will not put any obstacles in the way of normal functioning of their bodies, they think that the physician who thinks and talks that way must be a crank, and many seek help where they are told that they can obtain health from pills, powders and potions or from various inoculations and injections.
To live in health is so simple that any intelligent person can master the art and furthermore regain lost health in the average case, without any help from professional healers. There is plenty knowledge and all that is needed is a discriminating mind to find the truth and then exercise enough will power to live it. If a good healer is at hand, it is cheaper to pay his fee for personal advice than to try to evolve into health without aid, but if it is a burden to pay the price, get the knowledge and practice it and health will return in most cases. The vast majority of people suffering from chronic ills which are considered incurable can get well by living properly.
The more capable and frank the healer is, the less treatment will be administered. Minute examinations and frequent treatment serve to make the patient believe that he is getting a great deal for his money. Advice is what the healer has to sell, and if it is correct, it is precious. The patient should not object to paying a reasonable fee, for what he learns is good for life. People gladly pay for prescriptions or drugs. The latter are injurious if taken in sufficient quantity to have great effect. So why object to paying for health education, which is more valuable than all the drugs in the world? Because of their attitude on this subject, the people force many a doctor to use drugs, who would gladly practice in a more reasonable way if it would bring the necessities of life to him and his family. The public has to enlighten itself before it will get good health advice. The medical men will continue in the future, as they have done in the past, to furnish the kind of service that is popular.
A good natural healer teaches his patients to get along without him and other doctors. A doctor of the conventional school teaches his patrons to depend upon him. The former is consequently deserving of far greater reward than the latter.
The law of compensation may apply elsewhere, thinks the patient, but surely it is nonsense to teach that it applies in matters of health, for does not everybody know that most of our diseases are due to causes over which we have no control? That the chief cause is germs and that we can not control the air well enough to prevent one of these horrible monsters (about 1/25,000 of an inch long) from settling in the body and multiplying, at last producing disease and maybe death? This is untrue, but it is a very comforting theory, for it removes the element of personal responsibility. People do not like to be told that if they are ill it is their own fault, that they are only reaping as they have sowed, yet such is the truth.
Patients often dislike to give up one or more of their bad habits. "Mr. Blank has done this very thing for sixty or seventy years and now at the age of eighty or ninety he is strong and active," they reply to warnings. This is sophistry, for although an individual occasionally lives to old age in spite of broken health laws, the average person who attempts it perishes young. Those who do not conform to the rules are not allowed to sit in the game to the end.
Another false feeling, or rather hope, deeply implanted in the human breast is: "Perhaps others can not do this, but I can. I have done it before and can do it again; it will not hurt me for I am strong and possessed of a good constitution." The wish is father to the thought, which is not founded on facts. The most common and the most destructive form of dishonesty is self-deception. Those who are honest with themselves find it easy to deal fairly and squarely with others.
The doctors of the dominant school are very distrustful of the natural healers, in spite of the fact that the latter obtain the best results. Many of the conditions which the regular physicians treat without satisfactory results, the natural healers are able to remove in a few months. When members of the dominant school of medicine find men leading patients suffering from various skin diseases, Bright's disease, chronic digestive troubles, rheumatism and other ills which they themselves make little or no impression upon back to health, they are unwilling to believe that such results can be accomplished by means of hygiene and proper feeding. They think there is some fakery about it, for their professors, books and experience have taught them otherwise. They consider the views of the natural healer unworthy of serious attention and often call him a quack, which epithet closes the discussion. They are ethical and do not wish to be mired by contact with quacks.
The distrust of medical men for healers of the natural school is not hard to explain. Many of the natural healers are men of education and experience, but others lack both, and no matter how good the latter may be at heart, they make very serious blunders. For instance: They get out circulars, listing all prominent diseases known, stating that they cure them. They either are so enthusiastic that they are carried away or they are so ignorant that they do not know that there is a stage of degeneration which will not allow of regeneration, and that when such a stage is reached in any chronic disease the end is death.
Another handicap is that intelligent natural healers have such excellent success that they lose their heads. They educate patients by the hundred into health who have been given up as incurable by the conventional physicians. In their success they forget that modesty is very becoming to the successful and begin to boast. This hurts the cause. Let the natural healer ever remember that he does not cure, that he is but the interpreter and that nature is the restorer of health.
The natural healers must be more careful about their statements if they would have the respect of intelligent people, and they must labor diligently to be well informed. For their own good regular physicians will have to be more open-minded, and recognize the fact that it is not necessary to have a M. D. degree to accept the truth regarding healing. Medical men are losing their hold on the public largely because they have cultivated the class spirit.
It is a well known fact among natural healers that most cases of Bright's disease are curable, even after they have become chronic. However, a physician who voices this truth will probably be classed among irresponsible dreamers by other doctors.
Antagonism of this kind breeds extremists and is therefore harmful to the public, which pays for all the mistakes made. It is very easy to lose one's mental balance and to begin to play on a harp with but one string. We have a large army of Christian Scientists. If it were not for the way in which physicians of the past mistreated the body and neglected the mind, this sect would not exist. The doctors, with their awful doses of nauseous and destructive drugs, went to one extreme. The reaction was the formation of a sect that has gone to the other extreme. The Christian Scientists are incomprehensible in spots to us mortals who believe in a body as well as a mind, but they have a cheerful and helpful philosophy which brings enjoyment on earth and they have done an immense amount of good by teaching people to cease thinking and talking so much about themselves and their ills. Among other demonstrations, they have shown the uselessness of drugs.
Of late so many varieties of drugless healers have sprung into existence that it is difficult to remember even their names. There are many pathies. These have a tendency to take one part of the human being, or one procedure of treatment, and to play this up to the elimination of all the rest. Some do everything with the mind. Others pay no attention to the mind. Bathing, massage, manipulating the spine, washing out the colon, baths in mud, sunshine or water, suggestion and many other things are separately given credit for being cure-alls. Many of these are excellent as a part of regenerative treatment, but they are not sufficient of themselves to give permanent results.
Most healers have too narrow vision. People come to them because they have faith. The faith alone will produce temporary improvement, but as soon as the interest is gone and the procedure grows old the patient becomes worse again unless the treatment possesses genuine merit. Osteopathy is most excellent, as a part of a healing system, but it is not sufficient. The osteopaths find their patients relapsing over and over again, or taking some other disease. However, they are learning, in increasing numbers, that if they would keep their patrons well, they have to give them education along the line of hygiene and dietetics, with a little mental training thrown in.
Many chiropractors are learning the same thing. In some chiropractic schools there are professors wise enough to teach their students to be broad-minded. The true natural healer makes use of air, water, food, exercise, mental training—in fact, all the means nature has put at his disposal. He realizes that the best treatment is education of the patient. In many cases a cure can be greatly hastened by proper local treatment.
It is unfortunate that the nature healers are so divided and that many operate upon such a narrow basis. If the vast majority of them were well informed, broad enough to make use of all helpful natural means, and were designated by the same name, it would not take them long to gain more public confidence and respect than they now possess. So long as the nature healers segregate themselves and allow themselves to be narrow, so long will they have to struggle at a disadvantage against the more united wielders of scalpels and prescribers of drugs.
The question of choosing a health guide is sometimes perplexing. The patient should select one in whom he has confidence, for confidence is a great aid in restoring health. It often happens that there is no one in the town in whom the patient has confidence, for many communities have no competent natural healers. Then the question is whether or not to seek advice by correspondence. In acute diseases this is generally a bad plan, for the family often lacks the poise and equanimity necessary to carry out directions. In chronic cases it is usually all right. Here all that is required is correct knowledge put into practice and errors are not as dangerous as in acute diseases. Curable cases will get well by following the advice given by correspondence. A medical man who educates people by correspondence is considered unethical and is severely censured by the ethical brethren. To prescribe medicine by mail is without doubt reprehensible, but to educate people into health is a work of merit, whether it is done face to face or by correspondence. It is advantageous to meet the physician, talk things over and be examined, but it is not necessary.
I know of some cases of acute disease treated satisfactorily by letter and telegram, but the patients' families were in sympathy with natural methods, of which they had a fair knowledge, and they had unlimited confidence in the healer.
I am personally acquainted with many people who have been educated out of chronic disease and into health by correspondence, after the local physicians had vainly exhausted all their skill. It is simply a matter of applied knowledge and it works just as well in curable cases if given by telephone, telegraph or letter as if imparted by word of mouth. However, it seems to me that it is most satisfactory for all concerned when the healer and the sufferer can meet.
My words are not inspired by any ill feeling toward the members of the medical profession. I have found medical men to measure well up in every way. They are better educated than the average and they are as kind and considerate as are other men. As men we can expect no more of them under present conditions, but because they are better equipped than the average, we have a right to ask for an improvement in their practice, even if they have inherited a great many handicaps from their predecessors and it is not easy to throw off the past, which acts as a dead weight ever tending to check progress. The tendency of the times is for fuller, freer and more sincere service in every line, for evolving out of the useless into the greatest helpfulness. It is not asking too much when we demand of the doctors that they rid themselves of the injurious drug superstition and become health teachers, that instead of being in the rear they come to the front and make progress easier.
What I say about drugs is founded on intimate observation. I was educated medically in two of the colleges where medication is strongly advocated and well taught, and am a regular M. D. I have watched people who were treated by means of drugs and the biologic products, such as serums, vaccines and bacterines, which are now so popular, and I have watched many who have been treated by natural methods. Anyone with my experience and capable of thinking would come to the conclusions given in this book, that it is a mistake to administer drugs and serums and that the natural methods give results so much superior to the conventional methods that there is no comparison. Others who have discarded drugs know from experience that this is true.
The physicians who are on intimate terms with nature will neither desire nor require drugs. Sound advice, that is, teaching, is the most valuable service a physician can render. Right living and right thinking always result in health if no serious organic degeneration has taken place. If the public could only be made to realize that they need a great deal of knowledge and very little treatment, and that knowledge is very valuable and treatment often worthless the day would soon dawn when health matters will be placed on a sound, natural basis.
Surgery is occasionally necessary, but today from ten to twenty operations are performed where but one is needed.
"There is nothing new beneath the sun," is a popular quotation. It seems to hold true in the healing art, for the best modern practice was the best ancient practice. Naturally, people like to make new discoveries and get credit therefore. Our valuable new discoveries in healing are very ancient. Though much that appears in these pages may seem strange and new to many, I claim no originality. My aim is to present workable, helpful facts in such a way that any person of average intelligence and will power can apply them, and to get the essentials of health within such a compass that no unreasonable amount of time need be employed in finding them.
According to late discoveries, the ancient Egyptians were more advanced in the art of living than any other people on earth, including the moderns. They taught that overeating is the chief causative factor of disease, and so it is. They taught cleanliness, the priests going to the extreme of shaving the entire body daily. It would naturally follow that they prescribed moderation in eating, which leads to internal cleanliness. Cleanliness of body, in conjunction with cleanliness of mind, will put disease to rout.
The ancient Greek writers commented on the good state of health among the Egyptians, and modern medical writers marvel that they made so little use of drugs. Evidently they found drugs of little value, for they were taught hygienic living. The admirable health laws laid down by Moses were derived from Egyptian sources.
The ancient nations were as much influenced by the Egyptians as we are today by the Greeks who lived before the Christian era. The Greeks built combination temples and sanitaria, to which the afflicted resorted. The priests were in charge and these ancient heathens were great rogues. By fooling the people they got big fees out of them. Their oracular sayings and miracles were adroitly presented. They did not teach that overeating is the chief cause of disease, for this did not suit the mystic times. The people liked oracular prescriptions, and they got them. The law of supply and demand worked as well then as it does now. The heathen priests waxed fat and the medical art degenerated.
About five centuries B. C., Pythagoras taught that health can be preserved by means of proper diet, exercise and the right use of the mind. He also taught many other truths and some fallacies. In spite of much superstition mixed with his philosophy, it was too pure for the times and he perished.
Hippocrates, born about 470 years B. C., is one of the bright lights of the medical world. He was so far ahead of his time that he still lives. He was the founder of medical art as we know it. He used many drugs, but he also relied on natural means. He was the first medical man on record to pay serious attention to dietetics. The following quotations will show how well his mind grasped the essentials of the healing art: "Old persons need less fuel (food) than the young." "In winter abundant nourishment is wholesome; in summer a more frugal diet." "Follow nature." "Complete abstinence often acts very well, if the strength of the patient can in any way maintain it." In acute disease he withheld nourishment at first and then he prescribed a liquid diet. He also made use of the "milk cure," which is considered modern, in conjunction with baths and exercise; this is very efficacious in some chronic diseases. He further spoke the oft-forgotten truth that physicians do not heal. "Natural powers are the healers of disease." "Nature suffices for everything under all conditions."
The next great physician was Galen, who lived in the second and third centuries of our era. He added greatly to medical knowledge, made extensive use of dietetics, and then in a self-satisfied manner informed his readers that they need look no further for enlightenment, for he had given them all that was of any value. Perhaps he meant this as a joke, but those who followed him took it seriously, with the result that medical advance stopped for several centuries.
The physicians of the dark ages had some light, as evidenced by this popular quotation taken from a poem that the faculty of the medical college of Salerno gave to Robert, son of William the Conqueror, in the year 1101:
"Salerno's school in conclave high unites To counsel England's king and thus indites: If thou to health and vigor wouldst attain, Shun mighty cares, all anger deem profane; From heavy suppers and much wine abstain; Nor trivial count it after pompous fare To rise from table and to take the air. Shun idle noonday slumbers, nor delay The urgent calls of nature to obey. These rules if thou wilt follow to the end, Thy life to greater length thou may'st extend."
During recent times but two important discoveries have been made concerning matters of health: First, the advantage of cleanliness; second, the approximate chemical composition of various foods. All the other important new discoveries are old.
Cleanliness, moderation in all things, right thinking and a realization of the fact that nature cures are some of the most important stones upon which to build a healing practice. The most important single therapeutic factor is to abstain from food during pain and active disease processes.
Cleanliness of mind and body has been taught for thousands of years, yet cleanliness of body is a new discovery, for which we are greatly indebted to the great bacteriologist, Pasteur. It has been found that germs thrive best in filth; this has been taught so thoroughly that the public is somewhat afraid of the germs and as a measure of self-protection they are cleaning up. Of old, cleanliness meant a clean skin, but this is the least important part. It is far more necessary to have a clean alimentary tract and clean blood, with a resultant sweet, healthy body, and this is what cleanliness is beginning to mean. Internal cleanliness necessitates moderation, for an overworked alimentary tract becomes foul and some of the poisons are taken into the blood.
Asepsis and antisepsis simply mean cleanliness.
The benefits of moderation have been known for thousands of years. Louis Cornaro, who died in 1566, wrote a delightful book on the subject. People know that it is necessary to be moderate, but they do not seem to realize the meaning of moderation nor is its value well enough implanted in the human mind to produce satisfactory results.
Right thinking seemed as important to the thinkers of old as it does to the New Thought people today. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
For the better knowledge of the composition of food we have to thank the chemists.
Laymen are referred to frequently in this book because their work has been so helpful and important. Herbert Spencer and Alfred Russel Wallace had very clear conceptions regarding health. See their opinions regarding vaccination. There is no difference in the mental processes of physicians and laymen. Anyone can know about health, though it takes considerable experience and observation to get acquainted with the less important subject of disease. One indictment against medical men is that they have dwelled almost entirely on disease and paid no attention to health.
A group of modern men deserve great credit for popularizing health knowledge, which generally results in the loss of professional standing of the teacher. R. H. Trall, M. D., insisted that drugs are useless and harmful, that the only rational and safe way of healing ordinary ills is to use nature's means. "Strictly speaking, fever and food are antagonistic ideas," he wrote. In his Hydropathic Encyclopedia, copyrighted in 1851, he puts great stress on natural remedies, such as food and water. He met with much opposition, but he has left a deep impression on the minds of men who are now having some influence in shaping public opinion on health and healing.
Dr. Charles Page of Boston has been writing in advocacy of natural healing for over thirty years. He also has emphasized the harmfulness of drugs, the necessity of withholding food from fever patients, and simple living, remaining in touch with nature. Another important point which the doctor has been trying to impress upon the public is that it is necessary to retain the natural salts of the foods, instead of ruining them or throwing them away, as is generally done, especially in the preparation of vegetables and many cereal products.
Dr. Edward Hooker Dewey began to present his ideas to the public a few years after the Civil War. His little book entitled "The No-Breakfast Plan and the Fasting Cure," has had a great influence among rational healers. The doctor emphasized the importance of going without food in acute diseases so that no one who has read the book can forget it. He pointed out some of the errors of conventional healing as they had never been shown before, and I believe he was the first one to give the correct rules to guide people in the consumption of food.
For fourteen years Dr. J. H. Tilden of Denver has been a voluminous writer on health. He teaches that the law of compensation applies to health; that all disease is one and the same fundamentally; that "Autotoxemia is the fundamental basic cause of all diseases." Like all others who have investigated the subject impartially he believes that one of the most important factors of health is correct feeding. He allows all foods, in compatible combinations. Of course, he gives no drugs.
Dr. Harry Brook of Los Angeles is unique among the health educators of today. He is a brainy journalist with a good stock of fundamental health knowledge and is endowed with the ability to place his convictions before the public in a striking manner. He has been carrying on his educational work for many years.
Elbert Hubbard has also had a great deal of influence on the thought of today. At intervals he publishes an article on health which gets wide distribution. He has the faculty of making people think, and those who allow themselves to think independently generally evolve into serviceable knowledge.
Bernarr Macfadden has a large following. He is a strong advocate of physical culture and favors vegetarianism and other changes from conventional life. He educates his readers away from drugs. He has written much that is helpful and his influence is widely felt. Like all others who have struggled against the fetters of convention, he has aroused much opposition.
There are a few good health magazines, and there are many people living who deserve credit for their labor to improve the mental and physical condition of humanity. Some of these will be mentioned and quoted.
Some of the teachers have dwelled upon but one idea and some have advocated fallacies, but there is good to be found in all of them. No knowledge assays one hundred per cent. pure.
No helpful healing knowledge should be kept away from the public; it should be as free as possible. The public, when it understands, willingly pays a fair price for it, which is all that should be asked. To take advantage of the sick and helpless is contemptible. The old-time idea, still prevalent, that medical knowledge is for the doctor only is a mistake. The best patients are the intelligent ones. The office of the physician should be to educate his clients; his best knowledge and his best qualities will be developed in dealing honestly with intelligent people.
The practice of medical secrecy began in ancient times when the healers and the priests believed in fooling the public. Unfortunately, this professional attitude still survives. No one who has not practiced the healing art can know how tempted a doctor is to fake and humbug a little to retain and gain patronage.
Emerson wrote: "He is the rich man who can avail himself of other men's faculties. He is the richest man who knows how to draw a benefit from the labors of the greatest number of men—of men in distant countries and past times." Those who wish to be healthy and efficient are compelled to advance by taking advantage of other men's faculties. He who attempts to learn all by experience does not live long enough to travel far.
Everyone should try to get a knowledge of the few most fundamental facts of nature governing life. Then it would not be so easy to go astray. Health literature should be read with an open mind. Read in conjunction with your knowledge of the laws of nature, and then it will be seen that health and disease are according to law, and that by eliminating the mistakes disease will disappear.
All disease is one. It is the manifestation of disobeyed natural law, and whether the mistakes are made knowingly or ignorantly matters but little so far as the results are concerned. It is generally considered a disgrace to be imprisoned for transgressing man-made law, which is faulty and complex. How about being in the fetters of disease for disregarding nature's law, which is just and simple?
It is my aim to use as simple language as possible. If physicians read these pages, they will understand them without technicalities, and so will laymen. This book contains much knowledge that physicians should have, knowledge that will help them when that which they have acquired from conventional sources fails, but in many respects it is so opposed to popular customs and beliefs that many physicians will doubtless condemn it on first reading. Doctors are taught otherwise at medical colleges, and most of them have such high regard for authority that it is very difficult for them to see matters in a different light. I appeal to both laymen and healers with open minds.
These rambling thoughts will serve to show the reader whether it is worth while to go any further. The following chapters are devoted to an exposition of a workable knowledge of how to retain health, and how to regain lost health in ordinary cases. They will teach how to get dependable health, how to remain well in spite of climatic conditions, bacteria and other factors that are given as causes of disease, and how to more than double the ordinary span of life.
Good health and long life result in better work, increased earning capacity and efficiency of body and mind, greater understanding, and more enjoyment of life. It gives time to cultivate wisdom.
On mental questions there is a wide divergence of opinion. At one extreme some say that all is mind, at the other, that life is entirely physical, that the mind is but a refined part of the body. Most of us recognize both body and mind, and realize that life has a physical basis. If some are pleased to be known as mental phenomena, no harm is done.
All desire to make a success of life. What would be a success for one would be a failure for another. It all depends on the point of view. Broadly speaking, all are successful who are helpful, whether it be in furnishing pleasure or necessities to others. The humble may be as successful as the great, yes even more so.
Wealth and success are not synonymous, as many think. Among the failures must be counted many of the wealthy. Financial success is not real success unless it has been gained in return for valuable service. The men of initiative deserve greater rewards than the plodders and these rewards are cheerfully given.
A little genuine love and affection can bring more beauty and happiness into life than wealth, and neither can be bought with money.
The best and most satisfying form of success comes to him who helps himself by helping others. "It is more blessed to give than to receive," has passed into common currency; but the more we give the more we receive. He who loves attracts love. He who hates is repaid in kind. "He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword."
The enjoyment of the fruits of one's labor is a part of success. Some make a fetish of success and thus lose out. Others are so ambitious that in their striving they forget to live. A little ambition is good; too much sows the seed of struggle, strife and discontent and defeats its own ends. Those who do evil because the end justifies the means have already buried some of the best that is in them.
To enjoy life, health of body and mind is necessary. The mind can not come to full fruitage without a good body. Those who strive so hard to reach a certain goal that they neglect the physical become wrecks and after a few years of discomfort and disease are consigned to premature graves. Through proper living and thinking the body and mind are built up, not only enough to meet ordinary demands upon them, but extraordinary ones. In other words, it is within our power to have a large margin, balance or reserve of physical and mental force.
To make the meaning clearer let us illustrate financially: Prudent people lay aside a few dollars from time to time, in a savings bank, for instance. All goes well and the savings grow. At last there are one thousand dollars. Now an emergency arises, and if the saver can not furnish nine hundred dollars he will lose his home. In this case he must either borrow or use his reserve, so he takes nine hundred dollars from the savings bank and keeps his home. The improvident man loses his home under similar circumstances, for his credit is not good and he has no balance to draw upon.
And it is the same with physical and mental powers, except that we can not borrow these, no matter how much good will or credit we may have. He who lives well is accumulating a reserve. He has a wide margin. If trouble comes he can draw upon his reserve energy or surplus resistance and bridge it over. He may be tired out, but he escapes with body and mind intact.
The imprudent liver generally has such a narrow margin that any extraordinary demand made upon him breaks him down. It is very common for men to die after a financial failure. Disease, insanity and death often follow family trouble or the loss of a dear one. The reason is that such people live up to their limit every day. They have no margin to work on. They either overdo or underdo and fail to become balanced. Then a little physical or mental exertion beyond the ordinary often means a breakage or extinction.
Equanimity and moderation will help to build up the reserve and give the resistance that is necessary to cope successfully with the unforeseen difficulties that we sometimes have to surmount.
The physical state depends largely on the mental state and vice versa. Body and mind react upon each other. Bad blood does not only cause abnormal functioning of such organs as the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs, but it interferes with the normal functioning of the brain. It diminishes the mental output and causes a deterioration of the quality. An engorged liver makes a man cranky. Indigestion causes pessimism. Physical pain is so disturbing that the sufferer thinks mostly of himself and is unable to perform his work well. We never do our best when self-conscious. If there is severe pain the mind can perform no useful labor.
On the other hand, anger stops digestion and poisons the secretions of the body. Worry does the same. It takes the mind from constructive thoughts and deeds and centers it upon ourselves. An effective mind must be tranquil, otherwise it upsets the body and fails to give proper direction to our activities.
For a real life success we need a proper perspective. We need to be balanced, poised, adjusted. Most of us are too circumscribed mentally. We live so much by and for ourselves that we consider ourselves, individually, of greater importance than the facts warrant. Others do not agree with us on this point, and this is a source of disturbance. I am personally acquainted with two surgeons and several physicians who think they are the greatest in the world, and one considers himself the best physician of all time. The rest of the world does not appraise them so highly, and some of these professional men are very much annoyed because of this lack of appreciation.
Selfishness and self-esteem to a certain point are virtues. Beyond that point they become vices. Certainly we should think well of ourselves, and then act so that this good opinion is merited. Self-interest and selfishness are the main-springs of progress. Most of us need some inducement to do good work. It is well that it is so. The ones who deserve the great rewards generally get them, whether they are mental or physical.
To obtain a proper perspective of ourselves we must learn to think independently and honestly. It is too common to be conventionally honest, but dishonest with ourselves. It is too common to pass unnoticed in ourselves the faults we condemn in others. We should be lenient in our judgment because often the mistakes that others make would have been ours had we but had the opportunity to make them.
As physical ills are principally caused by bad physical habits, so are mental ills and inefficiency chiefly due to various bad mental habits, which are allowed to fasten themselves upon us. These will be briefly discussed so as to focus attention upon them, for the first thing necessary for the correction of a bad habit is to recognize its presence. It is as important to think right as it is to give the body proper care. A good body with a mind working in the wrong direction is of no use. If we allow our minds to be disturbed and distressed by every little unfavorable happening, we shall never have enough tranquility to think well.
The proper time to quit our bad habits is now. Why wait until the first of the month or the first of the year? Every day that we harbor a bad habit it grows greater and strikes deeper and stronger roots. A child one year old can often be broken of a bad habit in a week; a child of three, within a month; a child of six, within a few months; but let the habit grow until the age of twenty, and it may take a year or more to break the bonds. Let it continue until the age of thirty, and the victim will say, "I can quit any time," but the chances are that the habit will remain for life. After the individual is fifty or sixty years old, he is rarely capable of changing. If he is the victim of a very bad habit, it has generally so sapped his strength of body and mind that he is unable to break away.
The right time to stop bad habits is now.
Some people have many pet bad habits. It is often the best policy to attack them one at a time. Those who try to conquer all at once often fail. They backslide, lose self-confidence, become discouraged, tell themselves that it is no use, for it can not be done. Begin with the habit that is least formidable. After this is conquered, overcome another one, and in time most of the bad habits will be subdued. The first conquest builds confidence, and with confidence and determination it is possible to gain self-mastery in time.
The greatest evil about bad habits is that they conquer us. They become masters, we slaves. Let us be free. "He who conquers himself is greater than he who taketh a city."
The mind grows strong by overcoming obstacles, as the body gains in strength through work and exercise.
Giving up bad habits is very disagreeable at first. Those who have conquered the prevalent habit of overeating know that they have been in a fight. The smokers who quit suffer. Those who break away from liquor have a much greater struggle. Those who attempt to overcome drug addictions suffer the tortures of the damned. Those who overcome their bad mental habits have a hard time of it at first, but though it is difficult it is possible. It is no easy matter to curb a fiery disposition or to quit worrying. It requires time, persistence and perseverance. Fretting, envy, spite, jealousy and hatred are tenacious tenants of the mind they occupy. These harmful emotions are enemies which sap our strength and we must thrust them from our lives if we would live well. This is not all narrow selfishness, for when we have gained mental calm for ourselves we are in position to impart peace of mind to others and to be more useful than previously. A calm mind is not a stagnant one. It is a mind that is in the best possible condition to work, to think clearly and effectively.
Self-pity is a very common mental ill. Those who suffer much from this affliction usually have very good imagination. They think they are slighted and abused. They know that they do not get their dues. They envy others and are sure that others prosper at their expense. They minimize their blessings and magnify their misfortunes. This state of mind leads to spite and malice. These people become very nervous and irritable and are a nuisance, not only to themselves, but to those who are unfortunate enough to have to associate with them.
Self-consciousness and self-centeredness are twin evils. The sufferers lack perspective. They magnify their own importance. They believe they are the targets of many other minds and eyes. The youth refuses to take a dip in the ocean because he knows that the rest of the people on the beach are watching his spindle shanks or perhaps the bathing suit would reveal his narrow, undeveloped chest. The young man is afraid to go onto the dance floor because everybody is sure to see his ungainly gyrations. He stammers and stutters when he speaks because others are paying particular attention to his words, when in truth he is attracting little or no attention. Whether working or playing, those whose good opinions are worth having are too busy to spend much time in finding fault with others and discovering flaws that do not concern them. More enjoyment is to be had in looking at fine physiques and graceful movements than in watching the less favored.
We always do our best when we are natural. When we become self-conscious we become artificial and awkward. We can not even breathe properly. Those who are ever thinking about themselves fail to do things well enough to hold sustained attention, even if they are able to gain it for a while. Those who do their work well will in time gain the attention and appreciation they require. No one can long occupy a high place in the public heart without adding to the profit or pleasure of the world.
Here is a good line of thought for those who are too self-centered and self-important: "There are millions of solar systems in the universe, some of them much greater than ours. There are uncounted planets in space, beside some of which our little earth is a mere toy. Some of these planets are doubtless inhabited. Even on this small earth there are over a billion people. I am one in a number so great that my mind can not grasp such a multitude. Countless billions have gone before and they got along very well before I was born. Countless billions will live and die after I have passed on, and if they hear of me it will probably be by accident. And so it will be for ages and ages, so extensive that my brain can not grasp the stretch of time, which is without beginning and without end. How much do I, individually, amount to?"
And an honest answer must be, "Personally I am of very small importance."
An individual can not live of himself, for himself and by himself. Only as he adds his efforts to those of others does his work count. When we realize that we are but atoms in this vast universe, we get down to a business basis. Then it is easy to get adjusted. In order to count at all we must be in harmony with some of the rest of the atoms and when we discover this we are in a mental state to be of some real use. Building for individual glory is vanity. Sometimes an individual builds so well that he is picked out for special attention and honor, but this is comparatively seldom. As a rule, we can only help a little in shaping the ends of the race by adding our mite, as privates in the ranks. The time we spend in nursing our conceit is wasted.
This does not mean that we are worms in the dust. A human being is a paradox. He is so little, yet he has great possibilities. Our bodies are kept close to the earth, but our minds can be free and unfettered, soaring through time and space, exploring innumerable worlds of thought.
But it will not do to be too self-centered or consider one's self of too great importance, for this lessens one's chances of meriting the esteem of others.
The well balanced man is not greatly affected by too great praise or excessive censure, for he realizes that though the public may be hasty and unjust at times, in the end it renders a fairly just verdict.
Fear is one of the harmful negative or depressing emotions. Fear, like all other depressing emotions, poisons the body. This is not said in a figurative sense. It is an actual scientific fact; it has been demonstrated chemically. Were it not for the fact that the lungs, skin, kidneys and the bowels are constantly removing poisons from the body, an acute attack of fear would prove fatal.
Fear or fright is largely a habit. The parents are often responsible for this affliction. It is far too common for them to scare their children. They people the darkness with all kinds of danger and with horrible shapes, and the children, with their vivid imaginations, magnify these. Children should be taught to meet all conditions in life courageously and fear should not be instilled into their minds. There is a great deal of difference between fear and the caution which all must learn or perish early.
The caution that is implanted in the human breast is our heritage from the ages and works for our preservation. It was necessary during the infancy of the race when man had to struggle with the animals for supremacy. Beyond this point fear is a health-destroyer.
There are people who cultivate fear until they imagine they are ever in danger. They fear that they may lose their health, their mind, their good name. Some are afraid of many things. Others have one pet fear.
Today the fear of the unseen is strong in the public mind. I refer to the fear of germs, those tiny plants which are so small that the unaided eye can not see them. Children are shown moving pictures of these tiny beings, enormously enlarged and very formidable in appearance. They are told to beware, for these germs are in our food, in our drink, on the earth, in the air, in fact everywhere that man lives.
It is very harmful to scare the young thus, for it inhibits physical action and stunts the mind. How much better it would be to teach the children these truths about the germs: "Yes, there are germs in our foods and beverages. They are on the earth, in the water and in the air. They are necessary for our existence. If we take good care of our bodies and direct our minds in proper channels, these germs will not, in fact, can not harm us. If we do not take care of ourselves, but allow our bodies to fill with debris, the germs try to clean this away; they multiply and grow into great armies while doing it, for they thrive on waste. It is our fault, not the fault of the germs, that we allow our bodies to degenerate. The germs are our good friends and if we treat ourselves properly they will do all they can to help keep the water, the earth and the air in fit condition for our use."
Such teachings have the advantage of being true. They are helpful and healthful. The popular teachings are disease-producing. The mental depression and bodily inhibition caused by fear are injurious. Those who fear a certain kind of disease often bring this ill upon themselves, so powerful is suggestion. The fear is more dangerous than the thing feared.
In fear there is loss of both physical and mental power. Not only the voluntary muscles become impotent, but the involuntary ones lose in effectiveness. Digestion is partly or wholly suspended. "Scared stiff" is a popular and truthful expression. The bodily rhythm is lost, the breathing becomes jerky and the heart beats out of tune.
Keep fear out of the lives of babes. If children are taught the truth, there will be little fear in adult minds. Children should not be taught prayers in which there is an element of fear. It is much better to bring children up to love other people and God than to fear.
Those who have cultivated fear should try suggestion. Positive suggestion is always best. Let them analyze matters thus: "I have feared daily and nightly. Nothing has happened. I have brought much unnecessary discomfort upon myself. There is nothing to fear and I shall be brave hereafter." Those who fear God have a low conception of Him. Let them remember the beautiful saying that "God is love." Through repeating them often enough, such positive suggestions sink so deeply into the mind that they replace doubts and fears.
About 2500 years ago Pythagoras wrote: "Hate and fear breed a poison in the blood, which, if continued, affect eyes, ears, nose and the organs of digestion. Therefore, it is not wise to hear and remember the unkind things that others may say of us." Pythagoras was an ancient philosopher, but his words express modern scientific truths.
Worry: Worrying is perhaps the most common and the worst of our mental sins. Worry is like a cancer: It eats in and in. It is destructive of both body and mind. It is due largely to lack of self-control and is a symptom of cowardice. Much worry is also indicative of great selfishness, which most of those afflicted will deny. Those who worry much are always in poor health, which grows progressively worse. The form of indigestion accompanied by great acidity and gas formation is a prolific source of worry, as well as of other mental and physical troubles. The acidity irritates the nervous system and the irritation in time causes mental depression.
Confirmed worriers will worry about the weather, the past, the present, the future, about work and about play, about food, clothing and drink, about those who are present and those who are absent. Nothing escapes them and they bring sadness and woe in their wake.
Worrying is slow suicide.
Elbert Hubbard says that our most serious troubles are those that never happen.
Worrying is a very futile employment, for it never does any good, and it reacts evilly upon the one who indulges in it, and those with whom he associates. It is a waste of time and energy. The energy thus used could be directed into useful channels.
Let those who are afflicted with this bad and annoying habit get into good physical condition. Then many of the worries will take wing. If they persist, it would be well to face the matter frankly and honestly, setting down the advantages of worrying on one side and the disadvantages on the other. Then take into consideration that not one thing in a thousand worried about happens, and if something disagreeable does occur, worrying can not prevent it. Besides a disagreeable happening now and then will not cause half of the discomfort and trouble that a disturbed mind does.
"And this too shall pass away," is an ancient saying which it would be well to remember in conjunction with, "And this will probably never happen."
Anger is a form of temporary insanity. It is an emotion that is unbecoming in strong men, for it is a sign of weakness, and the women who indulge in it frequently can not long keep the respect of others. Those who become angry lay themselves open to wounds of all kinds, for they partly lose their mental and physical faculties temporarily. An angry man is easily vanquished in any contest where ready wit is necessary. As the saying is, he makes a fool of himself. To be high strung and quick to lose one's temper may sound fine in romantic rubbish, but in real life it is folly, for much more can be accomplished by being calm.
Like hatred, anger produces poisons in the system. An angry mother's milk has been known to kill the nursing child. A fit of anger is so serious that the evil effects can be felt for several days, and those who indulge in daily or even weekly loss of temper can not enjoy the best of health, for the anger produces enough toxins to poison all the fluids of the body.
Fortunately, anger is one of the emotions that can be conquered in a reasonable time, if there is a real desire to do so. It should not take an adult more than one or two years to get himself under control.
During anger there is a tensing of various muscles, those of the face and hands for instance. If this tensing is not allowed the anger will not last long. If there is a tendency to become angry, relax and the mind will ease up. A perfectly relaxed individual can not harbor anger, for this emotion requires tensing of body and mind. A determination to control the temper and a whole-hearted apology after each display of anger will prove very effective in reducing the frequency and force of the attacks. Mental suggestion is not as powerful as some say, but it is such a great force for good or evil, depending on its use, that those who are wise will not neglect it as a means of self-conquest.
People who are easily offended and "stand on their dignity," have a very poor footing. Those who find it necessary to inform others that they are ladies or gentlemen, are very apt to be prejudiced in their own favor. Gentlefolks do not need to advertise, nor do they do so. Others recognize their worth intuitively.
Fretting is anger on a small scale. It is a habit that is easily formed. The fretter and those about him are made uncomfortable. Those who respect themselves and others do not indulge.
Hatred is one of the most harmful and poisonous of emotions. Fortunately, violent hatred can last but a short time, otherwise it would prove fatal. Some are chronic haters. He who hates harms himself. The thoughts weave themselves into one's personality and form the character.
Jealousy is one of the most disagreeable of emotions. The jealous person insists on suffering. A jealous woman can convert a home into an inferno. Jealousy is sure to kill love in time. The jealous individual often excuses himself on the ground that he loves. That is not true. There is more fear than love at the base of jealousy. Jealous people are selfish and too indolent mentally to give their thoughts a positive direction.
Those who are violently jealous are suffering from mental aberration. The jealous person loses, for he drives away the object of his affection.
There are many jealous men, but women suffer most. Bad health and idleness are two prolific causes of jealousy. It has probably broken up more homes than any other one thing. It is blighting to all it touches.
Men and women may feel flattered for a time by producing jealousy, but it is a satisfaction of very short duration. They soon grow weary of the questions, doubts and reproaches.
Those who are sensible enough to give freely to others the liberty they crave for themselves do not suffer much from this emotion. It would help greatly if man and wife would look upon the marriage relation more as a partnership and less as a form of bondage. One of the partners can not force the other one to be "good." People do the best by others when full confidence is given, and even if the confidence should be misplaced, it would be better than to suffer from this corroding emotion at all times.
It is not an easy task to overcome jealousy, but it can be done within a reasonable time if there is a real desire. First get physical health. Then get busy with interesting, useful work. Get something worth while to occupy the mind and the hands. Determine to be master of yourself and not a slave to what is often but figments of the imagination. Unfortunately, jealousy so dwarfs the judgment at times that the sufferers seek only to rule or ruin. Love and hate are so closely akin that it is hard to find the dividing line.
Sorrow: Some dedicate their lives to a sorrow. They make martyrs of themselves. They have suffered a loss and they dwell upon it during all of their waking hours. It may be that it was a very ordinary or worthless husband or child. After death the poor real is converted into a glorious ideal. With the passing years the virtues of the departed grow. All the love and tenderness are lavished upon the dead and the living are neglected. It is generally women who suffer from this peculiar form of mild insanity, but men are not exempt.
It is natural to feel the loss of a dear one, but so long as we are mortal we must accept these things as matters of course.
Related to this form of sorrow is the regretting or brooding over past actions, especially in connection with the dead. Perhaps something that should have been done was neglected, or something was done that should have been left undone. Over this the sufferer broods by the hour, leading to a form of sad resignation that is rather irritating to normal people.
For such people a change of interest and a change of scene will often prove very beneficial.
Envy and spite are closely akin to jealousy and anger. They have the same effect in lesser degree.
Vacillation of mind is a common fault. Many small questions have to be settled and a few important ones. Some are in the habit of deferring their decisions from time to time, or making and revoking their decisions. Then they decide over again, after which there is another revocation. This is repeated until it is absolutely necessary to make a final decision. By this time the mind is so muddled that the chances are that the last decision will be inferior to the first one. No one who leads an active life can be right all the time. He who is right six times out of ten does pretty well, and he who can make a correct decision three times out of four can command a fine salary as an executive or build up a flourishing business of his own, if his mind is active.
The doubt and uncertainty which result from unsettled questions, which should be promptly decided, are more harmful than an occasional error. The untroubled mind works most quickly and truly.
Related to this in minor key is the doubtful condition of mind where the individual has to do things several times before he is sure they are properly done. For instance, there is the man who must try the office door several times to be sure that it is locked and after being satisfied on this point he is obliged to unlock it and investigate the condition of the safe door. Then it is necessary to attend to the office door two or three times again. This kind of doubtfulness takes many forms. It does no special harm except that it leads to much waste of time. Such people should teach themselves concentration, thinking about one thing only at a time, until they learn that when a thing is done it is properly done.
Judging: Many insist on passing judgment on everything and everybody that come to their notice. Every individual has to be placed with the sheep or the goats. This is a great waste of time. Each one of us can know so little about the majority of individuals we meet and of the vast volume of knowledge that is to be had that if we try to judge everyone and everything, our opinions become worthless. Wise people are never afraid to say, "I don't know." If it is necessary to judge, let there be kindness.
Volunteering advice: This is another annoying habit. It is very well to give advice if it is desired and asked for, otherwise it is a waste of time. Take a person with a cold, for example: If he meets twenty people he may be told of fifteen different cures for it, ranging from goose grease on a red rag to suggestive therapeutics. If he were to act upon all the advice received there would probably be a funeral. It is best to be sparing with advice. Those who have any that is worth while will be asked for it and paid for their trouble. Free advice is generally worth what it costs.
Cranks: Many allow themselves to get into a mental rut with their thoughts running almost entirely to one subject. This is a mild form of insanity, for normal people have many interests. These people are the cranks. They can talk volumes about their favorite topic, often of no importance. It may be some peculiar religion or ethics; or that Bacon wrote the plays of Shakespeare; or some health fad, or almost any subject.
Of all the cranks the diet crank is one of the most annoying, for he has three good opportunities to air his views each day. With the best meaning in the world he does more harm to the cause of food reform than do the advocates of living in the good old way, eating, drinking and being merry and dying young. When people become possessed of too much zeal and enthusiasm regarding a subject, they are sure that their knowledge is the truth and they insist upon trying to enforce their way upon others, resent having their old habits interfered with forcibly. Those who are too persistent and insistent produce antagonism and prejudice in the minds of others, and then it is almost impossible to impart the truth to them, for they will neither see nor hear.
To be able to influence others for better is a grand and glorious thing, but it is well to remember that we can not force knowledge which is contrary to popular thought upon others suddenly. Those who change a well rooted opinion generally do so gradually. When they first hear the truth, they say it is ridiculous. After a while they think there may be something in it. At last they see its superiority over their former opinions and accept it. It requires infinite patience on the part of the educators to impart unpopular knowledge to other adults, no matter how much truth it contains.
The truth about physical well-being is so simple and so self-evident that it is exceptionally hard to get an unprejudiced audience. From the time when the ancient heathen priests were the healers until today the impression has been that health and healing are beyond the understanding of the common mind, and therefore people are willing to be mystified. The mysterious has such a strong appeal in this world of uncertainties that it is more attractive than the simple truth. Mystery simply demands faith. The truth compels thinking and thoughts are often painful.
By all means, avoid being overinsistent in trying to impart health knowledge to others. All who have a little knowledge of the fundamentals of health and growth know that useful men and women are going into degeneration and premature death constantly, because of violated health laws. If these people on the brink, who can yet be saved by natural means, are told how it can be done, they generally either refuse to believe it, or they have led such self-indulgent lives that it is beyond their power to change. The knowledge often comes too late.
Those who are anxious to do good in the spreading of health knowledge among their friends can serve best by getting health themselves. If a physical wreck evolves into good health there will be considerable comment and inquiry. This is the opportunity to tell what nature will do and inform others where to obtain a good interpretation of nature's workings.
A little practicing is worth more than a great deal of preaching. The truth is the truth, no matter what the source, but it is more effective if it comes from one who lives it.
I have gone into the subject of health cranks so deeply because there are so many of them. They get a little knowledge and then they believe they are masters of the subject. The right attitude toward proper living, and especially toward proper eating is: "I shall try to conduct myself so as to be healthy and efficient. If others desire my help, I shall try to indicate the way to them. Right living is no sign of superior goodness or merit, being a matter of higher selfishness, so I deserve no credit for it. Although health is very important, I shall refrain from attempting to force my will on others."
After conquering ourselves it is time to begin making foreign conquests, but by that time the realization comes that in the end it is best to leave others free to work out their own salvation. The desire is strong to mould others according to our pattern, but those who size themselves up honestly soon come to the conclusion that they are so imperfect that perchance some other pattern is fully as good.
Postponing happiness: One peculiar state of mind is to refuse to be happy at present. The romantic girl and boy think they can not be happy until they are married. After marriage they find that they have to gain a certain amount of wealth before happiness comes. Then they have to postpone it for social position. They continue postponing happiness from time to time and the result is that they never attain it. Happiness is not a great entity that bursts upon us, transforming us into radiant beings. It is a comfortable feeling that brings peace and places us in harmony with our surroundings. It can best be gained by doing well each day the work that is to be done, cheerfully giving in return for what is received. Happiness is largely a habit. It is as easy to be bright and cheerful as it is to be sad and doleful, and much more comfortable. If we look for the best we will find beauty even in the most unpromising places. If we are looking for tears and woe, we can easily find them.
We can get along without happiness, but it adds so much color and beauty to life, it makes us so much better, it helps us so much to be useful that it is folly to do without it. It is not gained by narrow selfishness. Those who forget themselves most and are kind and considerate find it. By giving it to others we get it for ourselves. Ecstasy and rapture are emotions of short duration. They are so exhilarating that they soon wear out.
We all have our little troubles and annoyances. These we should accept as inevitable, and neither think nor talk much about them. They help to wear away the rough edges. We are stupid at times and so are others and then mistakes are made. These should also be accepted as inevitable, and we should not be more annoyed by those that others make than by our own. Those who go into a rage when their subordinates err waste much time and energy, erring gravely themselves.