“BUT if having been once defeated, thou shalt say, The next time I will conquer; and then the same thing over again, be sure that in the end thou wilt be brought to such a sorry and feeble state that henceforth thou wilt not so much as know that thou art sinning; but thou wilt begin to make excuses for the thing, and then confirm that saying of Hesiod to be true:
“With ills unending strives the putter off.” Epictetus.
Francis Bacon said: “A man’s nature runs either to herbs or weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one, and destroy the other.” The first part of this advice we have striven in preceding chapters to follow ; destroying weeds of a harmful character is to be the business of the present.
A large portion of our life represents habit. This is not necessarily an evil; indeed, the establishment of habituated action is indispensable to intelligent existence. But the word ” habit ” often signifies fixed tendencies to action, either physical or mental, which are injurious, or foolish or morally wrong. As the great factor in the formation of all habits is repetition contiuned until attention is not required, the repeated assault of the Will directed by keenest attention and governed by desire until the fixed tendency is overcome, seems to be the only method for rooting out these obnoxious weeds of body and soul. A strong Will can master many habits at once, if the man genuinely desires that this be done. A continued effort to destroy evil habits must develop the Will. But this effort supposes conflicting desires or impulses those running to the habit, and those opposing it. Hence the value of mental culture, and especially of strength of memory, imagination and Will, in order that the conflict may be made to turn in the right direction.
The first difficulty is a general want of self-control; a second is a faint or fickle perception of motives and consequences ; a third is a had memory of an evil past; a last is the weak desire for cure.
To overcome habits, then, one must bring his entire attention to the matter, must think intensely of the motives and outcomes involved, and must resolve to do all things necessary to turn the mind away from habit to-ward freedom. We affirm that we resolve ; yet perhaps no resolution has really arisen in the mind. In a time of great sorrow, or of extreme excitement of pleasure, or of intense anger or disgust with self, or of fear of results, resolve sometimes is so deeply cut into the soul that it has opportunity to discover its ability to per-form and to suffer, and to become habituated a little to the necessary discomfort of self-denial, and so to take a new hold by Will for a more persistent effort. By this time the ” force of habit ” and the test of continuance have become slightly less, while the power of Will has correspondingly grown. Perseverance now is sure prophet of reward.
It is a law, probably, that as much Will-power must be consciously expended in curing a habit, as unconsciously has been employed in acquiring it.
The entire matter may be summed up in one word : All evil habits may be destroyed by the man who really DESIRES to master them.
Mark Twain declared to his physician, who had accused him of using tobacco and coffee immoderately, together with tea and indigestible food and hot Scotches every night : ” I can’t make a reduction in these things because I lack the Will-power. I can cut them off entirely, but I can’t merely modify them.” His idea, to be taken seriously because it is fundamental good sense, is that the cure of bad habits is to be effected by destruction of desire for their indulgence. “The de-sire of course precedes the act, and should have one’s attention; it can do but little good to refuse the act over and over again, always leaving the desire unmolested, unconquered ; the desire will continue to assert itself, and will be almost sure to win in the long run. When the desire intrudes, it should be at once banished out of the mind. One should be on the watch for it all the time otherwise it will get in. It must be taken in time and not allowed to get a lodgment. A desire constantly repulsed for a fortnight should die, then. The system of refusing the mere act, and leaving the desire in full force, is unintelligent war tactics, it seems to me.”
Or, to put the matter in another way, the cure of habit depends upon keeping the right idea before the mind either that of the goal or that of the consequence of yielding.
“The strong-willed man is the man who hears the still small voice unflinchingly,” says Professor James, ” and who, when the death-bringing consideration comes, looks at its face, consents to its presence (he is speaking of the cold consideration of reason), clings to it, affirms it, and holds it fast, in spite of the host of exciting mental images which rise in revolt against it and would expel it from the mind. Sustained in this way by a resolute effort of attention, the difficult object ere long begins to call up its own congeries and associates and ends by changing the disposition of the man’s consciousness altogether.
” Everywhere, then, the function of the effort is the same ; to keep affirming and adopting a thought which, if left to itself, would slip away. It may be cold and flat when the spontaneous mental drift is toward excitement, or great and arduous when the spontaneous drift is toward repose. In the one case the effort has to inhibit an explosion, in the other to arouse an obstructed Will.”
Nevertheless, the function of the Will lies underneath the desire ; to keep desire for indulgence out, and to make desire for freedom stronger. The latter is the work of right-mindedness, the former of a determined Will. After all, then, people are slaves to habit simply because they consent to be slaves.
“Moral action is action in the line of the greatest resistance.”
Before going to the following pages, therefore, it will be well to decide definitely that you honestly wish to eliminate the evils mentioned. You have sought a strong Will. For what purpose, if you must yet re-main a slave? Let the motto of all previous exercises now be firmly held in mind : I RESOLVE TO WILL! ATTENTION!!
This is a mark of low breeding. In the long run the best breeding comes up from plebeian blood and common surroundings. It is the specialization of ordinary materials. You can contribute better than yourself to the fruit of your loins. Here is the golden faith of true Americanism.
Profanity is useless ; it ruins spoken language ; it causes trouble ; it is undignified ; it is immoral. There-fore, away with it !
Régimes. 1. Think the whole matter over, and set out to become a gentleman. Resolve to stop, now and forever. Keep the thought in mind: the profane man is a fool. When you slip again into the habit, do not pass the fault lightly, but reprove yourself severely. Resolve with increased fury of Will to banish the evil.
2. Imagine the best woman you have ever known to be present, and then make your apologies to her offended dignity.
3. If you feel that you must indulge, proceed with the foolishness of counting twenty-five, slowly and viciously because of your dish-water weakness; don’t think ” swear “; think twenty-five.
4. If you are very weak in this respect, substitute at first a code of jargon for your profanity; when this habit is formed, break it according to the above instructions. You can now do this for the reason that you have shown successful Will in one direction, and there are no words quite so satisfactory to a profane person as those which you have ceased to use.
5. Meanwhile, write out a complete list of all the profanity you are in the habit of using. Carry it about with you. Frequently read it, take in its significance, understand its utter folly. At every reading, resolve to rid your vocabulary of every word. Ten days ought to cure this habit for all time.
A good deal of downright lying is due to a bent for exaggeration. A lively imagination and a vivacious temperament may easily induce enlarged or colored statements without intention to deceive. This fault becomes a habit, the liar is born, unconscious of his talents. The intended lie is probably a rarity. Often-times people state as facts what are merely conclusions from their own impressions. This is especially apt to be the case when themselves are involved. They do not intend to utter falsehoods; they do not assert what they consciously know to be untrue; but they do assert what they do not surely know to be the fact. When a man states a thing or truth as fact, it is his business to know that it is certainly not false. We gather from the facts which we do know conclusions which we think must be true. Then we proclaim our conclusions as realities. We do not take the trouble to tell merely what we surely know that is, facts ; but we proceed across lots, because it is easier, and we rather like that way, to assert our opinions as bald actualities. Here we have the heart of lying carelessness as to exact truth. Few people relate ordinary matters with naked veracity. ” The thing was so and so.” ” He said.” “I said.” Etc., etc. He did not say exactly that, but just a trifle less. You did not say exactly that, but just a trifle more. The thing was not absolutely so and so, but just a trifle different. All this you know well enough; but you desire to be interesting, and, before you are aware of it, you are carried along in the zest of anecdote. And you are conscious of this fact, but you thrust the feeling into the background and go on with ” picturesque speech.” In plain English, you are next thing to a liar.
Regimes. I. A partial remedy will be suggested under the habit ” Garrulousness.” The man who strips his statements to the fewest possible words is not often an exaggerator, in the nature of the case, and is seldom a liar. You should therefore cultivate abbreviated speech, however much patience and practice may be required. It might do you a deal of good to conclude, and to say softly to yourself a hundred times a day for a month : “I am a liar ! I am a liar!” Confessing this, the next story you tell will not be so funny the humorist who sticks to absolute truth is a laughing grave yard but you will become a great deal “longer” on veracity.
2. Then you should thoroughly free yourself from the fog of impressions. Imagine your mind to be a judge and your tongue to be a witness. The witness must confine himself to facts to what he has seen and heard, not what he has believed about these matters. Example : The tongue testifies ” The man was running down the street. He had a toothache.” ” Was he really running?” ” Well, no ; he was walking rapidly, almost in a run.” Now, why didn’t you say exactly that? Because you wanted your incident to be lively. “How do you know that the man had a toothache? ” ” Why, he had his hand on his face, and his expression was distorted.” As a matter of fact, the man had bitten his tongue, and his look merely indicated that he had discovered that this member was not designed for mastication. It was just the regular statutory grimace. But you jumped to the conclusion that his tooth was making chaos of his peace of mind, and hence his appearance was ” awful.” Thus you proceeded to think, not what you saw, but your impression. You have related an inference for facts. It is necessary, therefore, that you should desperately resolve never to relate as truth what you do not positively know to be naked fact. This resolution must be sunk into the marrow of your soul, and held in mind continuously for months.
3. You should discard your paint-pot. Your fancy idealizes or heightens all colors. A good honest blush is “as red as fire.” A pleasant smile is a yellow grin.” ” The shade of thought” is “bluer than a whetstone.” A sparkling laugh is ” a lightning glare of hilarity.” Now, you must learn to see things as they are, and to tell them as you really see them. You are telling a story, and in it yourself and a few other people are made to say a dozen things which you know were never said. You paint their language in colors that are too high. If you are not past redemption, you were aware of this fact. During the entire recital an inner god is whispering, ” No, no ; that is not correct ! Tone it down ! Speak the truth ! ” But your rush of speech and interest are like lively fire-works, and every-thing is doubled and exaggerated. You continue to dash on the paint until at last the sober inner Truth-teller actually joins in the laugh, at the shock. After a little he rises up and shouts : ” You are a liar ! A liar!” At the end, he dies a perfectly natural death.
In order to overcome this habit, you should first use your senses, to know things just as they exist and occur. And you must practise daily, until it becomes a habit, the art of telling facts as nakedly as possible. For example : recall some incident of yesterday, and proceed to narrate it, coldly and slowly, in the fewest words, and with absolutely no exaggeration. Mean-while, resolve, and state your resolution aloud, in the briefest and coldest manner:
“I will henceforth reject impressions and all adjective coloring, and confine myself entirely to actual facts.” To bring this about, you must determine, and begin now, to employ no adjective word if you can make sense without it, and when the adjective must appear, to use the weakest of its kind. In reality, that word will be the very best, though at first it may look like a featherless bird. The bird will in time get all the feathers required, and a “perfectly wonderful liar ” will have become a man of plain but reliable speech, a comfort to himself and a support of ” English with a moral quality.”
IRRITABILITY AND ANGER
Irritation is the germ of anger. There are those, however, who become irritable without explosions of wrath. Very likely their difficulty is physical. A set of unstrung nerves is often the result of wrong doing, but nevertheless demands the sympathy of the possessors of good health. Weak and disordered nerves are a misfortune, whatever their cause, and should be so treated.
Régimes. 1. The cure in such a case would seem to be rest and treatment by medical specialists of unquestioned standing. Yet here also the Will may find its opportunity. It can do little without scientific assistance, but, thus aided, it may and does accomplish much. If the sick may wisely be exhorted to a resolute fight, much more those who are irritable because of a ” touchy ” and fault-finding disposition. With reason-ably well people irritability and anger are inexcusable. You may thrust these devils out of your life if you honestly desire to do so. In most cases this may be done by a sheer exercise of Will. Certainly with a little artificial assistance the task is sure to end in success.
2. ” Refuse to express a passion and it dies. Count ten before venting your anger, and its occasion seems ridiculous.”
3. But you must stop violating physical law, and re-solve to live according to the dictates of a sound judgment. The suggestions of the chapter on ” General Health ” should be observed.
4. Cultivate a cheerful state of mind. You can do this if you will. Entertain only pleasing and elevating views and feelings ; all others you must resolutely fore-go. Don’t be foolish and brood over wrongs and unpleasant conditions, whether fancied or real.
5. Don’t worry. Whenever you are tempted to do so, play the buffoon, or recall the funniest story you know. You will be out of the mood, but it can be forced. Bury yourself in humor; laugh; assert your Will ; shout to your soul : ” I will not worry !”
” If you sit all day in a moping posture,” remarks Professor James, ” sigh and reply to everything with a dismal voice, your melancholy lingers. If we wish to conquer undesirable emotional tendencies in ourselves, we must assiduously, and in the first instance cold-bloodedly, go through the outward motions of those contrary dispositions we prefer to cultivate. The reward of persistency will infallibly come, in the fading out of the sullenness or depression and the advent of real cheerfulness and kindliness in their stead.”
In plain, untechnical language, Dr. Geo. W. Jacoby has said, ” Worry works its irreparable injury through certain cells of the brain, and that delicate mechanism being the nutritive centre of the body, the other organs become gradually affected. Thus, some disease of these organs or a combination of organic maladies arising, death finally ensues.
“Scientifically, but little is known about those subtle senses perception, thought, judgment and reason except that they are closeted behind the frontal bones, and that it is here the Will power is generated to be communicated to every other part of the body. The cells located here, some of them in constant service, others acting only now and then, are the most important in the brain. They are the mental citadel, and it is here the awful malady we call worry makes its first deadly assault.
” Considered as a disease, worry, when it does not kill outright, frequently injures to the extent of inducing sickness, physical discomfort and the inclination to seek relief in suicide. It is, perhaps, one of the worst of ills to which the mind is heir.
” The remedy for the evil lies in the training of the Will to cast off cares and seek a change of occupation when the first warning is sounded by Nature in intellectual lassitude and disinterestedness in life. Relaxation is the certain foe of worry, and `don’t fret’ one of the healthiest of maxims.”
6. You should resolve to discover some good, some bright side, some pleasing element, in everything and in every situation. You must make this a real pursuit of your soul.
7. You should keep before your thought, in relation to all those with whom you come in contact, their virtues and excellence. Cultivate that charity which thinks no ill.
8. You should read only that which is agreeable and useful. Shun the blue book, the yellow journal, tainted fiction, and all that is skeptical toward the won-der and glory of life.
9. So far as feelings are concerned, live only in the present. The past is done for; it is not half so bad as you suppose. Verify this by recalling its pleasures and successes alone, resolutely ignoring its sadness and failures. Live in the present of a sunny mood. Anticipate nothing but good in the future. Burn all doleful prophecies; they are lies. Some evil must befall you, but those about which you are certain will never ” come true.”
10. Companion with cheerful thoughts and people exclusively. Why be friendly with those who are miserable for the sake of their deadly comfort? Let the dead bury their dead. This does not contradict the law of kindness. If your motive is their good, you are then armed against contagion.
11. On the morning of each day, find some pleasant or inspiring thought, blaze it deeply into your mind, and cling to it during the hours. Do not let it escape you a moment. Repeat it when irritable. Repeat it when tempted to anger. Repeat it as you perceive the shadows of melancholy stealing over your soul. Invest it with magical power. Constitute it an amulet or charm.
12. Preserve a daily record of instances in which you have shown irritability or anger or melancholy. Be exact in this; let it be faithful and honest personal history. At the close of each day, write it; then read it; then resolve to improve. At intervals review that record, and note progress. State the fact in your diary, and remember it for encouragement. Continue until you are master.
13. On no provocation permit yourself to fall into melancholy, or to show irritation or anger, in company with another person. Never forget your self-respect. You must remember that man is entitled to be happy. People and things about you are irritating and depressing, no doubt; but observe this fact, that many with whom you become angry will merely exult in your downfall, deriving unworthy pleasure from your weakness. Why should you contribute to such enjoyment while rendering yourself miserable? Why make distress for yourself, whatever other people may do? Here is a kind of living suicide. Resolve to be happy. You are not so when irritated, and you simply give the unkind an unnecessary advantage. Your melancholy may be the sole source of enjoyment for some people who protest, nevertheless, that you are causing them misery; why should you play such a fool’s part?
14. Don’t try to be a martyr! Don’t assume the role of suffering innocence ! Don’t pity yourself ! The man who pities himself is lost. Don’t nurse your nerves ! Don’t coddle your whims ! Don’t ” baby ” your sins !
15. Stand for your rights, control your feelings, insist on a happy frame of mind, take frequently a moral bath in honest, manful Will-power, and live absolutely above the feeble-minded expletive, the wretched sarcasm, the dastardly fling, the cowardly meanness, the cellar of miasmatic brooding and the psycho-physical poison of anger !
Brooding o’er ills, the irritable soul
Creates the evils feared and hugs its pain. See thou some good in every somber whole, And, viewing excellence, forget life’s dole
In will the last sweet drop of joy to drain.
Opposed to purity, to cleanliness, to personal dignity, to moral vigor, to health of body and soul, this habit has its roots in a degraded tone of mind.
Two things are therefore observable: desire for evil, and a want of proper mental occupation. The desire can be mastered by improvement in health, and by substitution of worthy thought in the mind.
Régimes. 1. The first general treatment must be physical. Nerves which are out of tone, must be brought back to the full condition of health by the varied activities of inspiring interests. You must co-operate by putting yourself in a healthful régime of daily living. (a) You must live regularly, as far as possible. (b) You must bring yourself to a plain and simple diet, avoiding alcohol in every form, and, if injurious, tea and coffee. (c) You should bathe swiftly every day, rinse in clean and gradually cooling water, and rub thoroughly with coarse towels until you are perfectly dry and all aglow. (d) Your thought should immediately be taken up with rugged, active affairs. (e) You should resolutely compel yourself to engage in systematic, but not violent, exercise. (f) You should absolutely shun every luxury of an enervating nature. (g) Your amusements should be entirely free from any unworthy excitement. (h) You must cultivate an ideal of womanhood as an everpresent portrait in the gallery of thought innocent, dignified, saintly.
2. On occasion, recite heroic poetry or exalted prose, which you have learned for the purpose. Or recall some stirring event in your own life, or some humorous incident, driving the soul into healthful moods.
3. You should make it your business to occupy the mind with plans, ideas, trains of reasoning, which are practical, noble and profoundly interesting. It may be well to take up some problem of real life as a daily subject of thought, to assail it with questions, to analyze its difficulties, to discover its relations, to bore steadfastly into it, until you have arrived at a solution which seems to be reasonable or satisfactory. Then go into another subject and treat it in the same manner.
4. Whenever an unworthy thought occurs to you, thrust it aside and replace it by a better.
5. Remember, you are to fight this evil indirectly, never directly. So long as your mind is upon it to destroy it, it still remains. Make your main fight by occupying the field of thought with values and nobilities.
6. It is true here as it is with reference to every other habit: If you say, ” I cannot,” you desire not to conquer. Every habit is rooted in thoughtlessness or desire. Kill the desire. Or better, reverse the de-sire. Example : ” I desire this or that indulgence.” Substitute for this, ” I desire its opposite; I desire the correlative good ; I desire freedom!” There is nothing which a man cannot do, reasonably speaking, if he actually and profoundly desires it.
7. You must deliberately demand improvement. ” Brain cells and brain fibres cannot learn better ways from preachers, only your own untiring will can do anything with them.”
If there is not enough manhood left in you to desire reform, you must consult a physician or a ” cure “; and if this will avail nothing, then, to be sure, you must go on as a slave.
Regime 1. But if your manhood is still sufficient for these things, you must waste no time over these habits, as such, or directly considered. You must treat with desire, first, middle, last and directly, leaving habit to take care of itself. Thus, you must banish desire for stimulants by substituting for it desires of other descriptions. Keep the first out of mind. Keep the latter forever in thought.
Illustration : The Man Who Failed. One who visits a ” Keely Cure” and is reformed, falls, in a few months, into the old habit. It is said his case is hope-less ; so it is, but not for anything in the treatment ; the man doesn’t genuinely desire freedom. He drinks now because he desires indulgence, or because he does not desire reform. His appetite is his plea; but his desire lies under his appetite. Were he confronted by a loaded rifle, with the assurance of a court of law that the instant he drank this first glass which he holds to his lips he would be shot to death like a dog, he would defer the indulgence because desiring life better than one drink. The contrary is asserted, but it is simply the exaggeration of deluded martyrdom.
Illustration: The Man Who Won. A certain man had put drink in place of wife, family and honor. Awakened in his bed, after a prolonged ” spree,” with a fiery craving for alcohol, he abjectly begged his wife to fetch him whiskey. She coldly refused. In his torment, he promised that if she would grant this one request, he would forever abjure the use of drink. Thereat she yielded. He drank as a babe drinks milk. But he kept his word. Here was right desire harnessed to Will. But the wife furnished ready hot coffee every hour of the day and night during months. Many men continue to drink whose wives or mothers lack wit and, the power of simulating affection. Womanly ” coddling” is a divine institution. A re-forming drinker is weak in nerves and a baby in soul ; let his womanfolk pour wrath upon drink and nurse the man for what he is a hero with no legs to stand on.
Illustration: The Man Who Tried Again. A young man discovered the alternative : drink and a perfect mixture of ruin and disgrace, or total abstinence with large success. He got into his soul, first of all, a mighty desire for freedom, and then a great determination to suffer; he could suffer if he could not stop the use of alcohol. He went into the battle and fell. He sobered, got a new desire for reform, and went into the fight once again. He suffered torments beyond description. His body was an armed enemy. His nervous system massed itself upon his resolution with persistent assaults which ceased not, day or night, during months. He received assistance from no ” cure ” and no religious experience, so far as he could determine. Hourly he held conversations with his stomach, saying to that organ with clenched fists and shut teeth, ” You cannot and shall not have drink.” He never yielded the second time. He triumphed, of course. Here was desire harnessed to Will.
Illustration : The Man Who Makes Excuses. “How many excuses does the drunkard find,” writes Professor James, like a scientific reformer, ” when each new temptation comes ! It is a new brand of liquor which the interests of intellectual culture in such matters oblige him to test; moreover it is poured out and it is sin to waste it; or others are drinking and it would be churlishness to refuse; or it is but to enable him to sleep, or just to get through this job of work; or it isn’t drinking, it is because he feels so cold; or it is Christmas-day; or it is a means of stimulating him to make a more powerful resolution in favor of abstinence than any he has hitherto made ; or it is just this once, and once doesn’t count, etc., it is, in fact, any-thing you like except being a drunkard. That is the conception that will not stay before the poor soul’s attention. But if he once gets able to pick out that way of conceiving from all the other possible ways of conceiving the various opportunities which occur, if through thick and thin he holds to it that this is being a drunkard and is nothing else, he is not likely to remain one long,”
Régime a. The drink-habit is partly psychic, partly physical. In either case the desire must be displaced by a stronger motive. A mediaeval legend illustrates this law. The people of Gubio were terrorized by a wolf, and Saint Francis undertook to tame the animal. He went outside the walls of the town, and, meeting the wolf, said to him : ” I wish to make peace between you and these people, Brother Wolf, so that you may offend them no more, and neither they nor their dogs shall attack you.” Then, as the wolf laid his paw on the saint’s hand, in token of a covenant, he promised that the animal should be fed during the rest of his life, ” For well I know that all your evil deeds were caused by hunger.”
Régime 3. If the drink-habit is caused by a physical condition, it should be counteracted by a régime of food and innocent drink that shall maintain a state of physical satisfaction. A full meal is a sound foundation for a good Will. If the habit is the result of a psychic desire, the Will must be bolstered by a new psychic ideal, of any character whatever. Anything that will introduce to the soul, and maintain there, a suggestion stronger than that of liquor, will win and nothing less can win.
Hugh Miller relates that a man-o’-war sailor in an engagement had become so exhausted that he could scarcely lift a marlinspike, but, the enemy renewing the fight, “a thrill like that of an electric shock passed through the frame of the exhausted sailor; his fatigue at once left him; and, vigorous and strong as when the action first began, he found himself able, as before, to run out the one side of a twenty-four pounder.”
The habit-conquering Will must be fed.
Regime 4. Some physicians recommend for the tobacco habit the incessant eating of peanuts, inasmuch as a condition of the stomach seems to be engendered by them which revolts against nicotine. If you can nauseate a man every time he craves tobacco he will cease to desire it. It is said that milk has the same effect in some cases. Every person long addicted to ‘these habits needs some medical assistance, because a physical state is involved which usually requires counteraction. Having then, a genuine desire to reform, follow the directions below:
Régime 5. Procure a tonic prescription from a physician who understands your case. Eat heartily plain food, especially any kind which does not seem to agree with tobacco or alcohol, and keep forever in mind the goal of freedom. Eat peanuts or drink milk instead of indulging your appetite in habit. Fix deeply in your soul the conviction that the difficulty is not insuperable, but will yield in time. This is true, because the entire physical system tends to adapt itself to new conditions. Continue these reform conditions long enough and you are a free man.
Régime 6. Don’t talk about your effort. Don’t dwell upon your suffering. Keep yourself busy, in out-of-door activity as much as possible. Contrive to get a great amount of sound sleep every day. Take a noon nap daily. Flood your stomach with pure water day after day. If the weather permits, perspire freely. Put tobacco and liquor out of sight. Keep them out of mind. When their thought arises, banish the suggestion instantly. As you do so, and in order to do so, set the mind upon other matters.
Régime 7. Don’t suffer yourself to fall into the ” dead stare” that unconscious stand-still of mind which occasionally seizes men who are fighting these battles. Anticipate such ” spells,” and throw yourself into action requiring no concentration of thought.
Régime 8. Don’t pity yourself. Entertain no sympathy for your suffering nor your weakness. Don’t play martyr. Don’t class yourself with heroic reformers. Don’t nurse your egotism. Don’t imagine that you are doing some great thing. Forget all these temptations. People have lost track of neuralgia over Mark Twain’s ” Innocents Abroad,” and have fought on in battle with shattered arms. You can absolutely forget tobacco and alcohol, if you determine to do so.
Régime 9. Don’t ask the Divine Being to cure these habits. All such ” cures ” have been psychological. Deity is the author of a true psychology, and religious experience is psychological, to be sure; but the Infinite works through His own laws, one of which, underlying the crowning achievement of moral realms, soul development, is that Divine help is given to no human being in an especial manner or degree who can achieve success by obedience to ordinary principles of right living.
A person once declared that ” the Lord had taken away his craving for tobacco.” When closely and persistently questioned, he confessed that there had been times at first wherein his throat and mouth had felt ” raw,” one of the symptoms of tobacco denial. He had forgotten his desire in his intense religious excitement. Here was ” Divine assistance,” of course, but without any distinctively supernatural element.
Some people can get ” cured at the altar.” It doesn’t matter what notions they entertain, so long as they escape the ” beggarly elements.” But other people can never quite surrender to the auto-suggestion necessary, and frequently these fail of achieving what is called ” victory ” because they rely upon mistaken ideas and ignore the true law of these subjects, the curability of habits where there is genuine desire backed by resolute Will and proper mental conditions. Any method which will create desire for reform, foster determination, and occupy the mind with absorbing thought or excitement long enough to enable the system to re-adjust itself, will realize the happy results of the ” converted drunkard ” or the ” sanctified tobacco user.”
A book just published on curing the tobacco habit, by Mac Levy, has among others, the following “dictums “:
1. Having decided to quit tobacco, keep your thoughts upon the grand benefit soon to come, and do not allow yourself to be dissuaded from your purpose.
2. Continue with tobacco as usual for two weeks. If you feel that you are making such progress that you can cease the use of tobacco before the fixed time, do not stop completely reduce the quantity if so inclined.
3. Sip all liquids and other soft foods, allowing them to remain for a brief period in the mouth before swallowing. Chew every mouthful or bite of solid or dry food many times before swallowing.
4. Avoid foods or drinks that disagree with you.
5. Consume eight glasses of liquid, non-alcoholic and non-gaseous, daily, between meals.
6. Practise deep breathing every morning and night.
In conclusion we may quote from “The Culture of Courage” suggestions which make for the conquering spirit. ” Faith, conceived as the affirmatively expectant attitude of the whole self, is one of the mightiest powers in this world. It is the fundamental element in auto-suggestion. You are therefore invited to make your entire thought and life a suggestion to self that these directions, faithfully carried out, will infallibly eliminate from your nature ” the habits indicated.
But remember, ” faith without works is merely a ` say-so.’ Real faith is confident action toward a goal. The continuation of such action measures the kind and power of faith supposed. You should, therefore, determine to persevere a thousand years if necessary, for you are yourself everlasting, if you will. But let it be remembered that mere resolution is only one-half of real determination. Some people resolve and then resolve, never achieving victory. Others put ` bite’ into the matter in hand once for all, and do not seem to know how to let go. The only cure for resolution is determination, for determination is just doing the thing resolved upon.
” The soul that says, ‘I am going to overcome,’ will very likely fail. The leverage runs too far into the future. A valiant Will always acts on a short lever. You should, therefore, declare : ` I am overcoming ! The thing is now being accomplished ! The matter in hand is mastered.’ This may seem a trifle false, but it is more than a trifle true if you really mean it. When a man swears the needed thing now, it is by so much already done in his Will, and a good deal of it, unknown to him, is accomplished in the concrete.”