The Power of the Mind

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The Power of the Mind

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True human power is not physical; its seat is in the mind, in the will, in the conscience. Let our schoolboys be happy and joyous, let them divert themselves, in a free spirit, like gentlemen, but let them not lay the stress of their attention and admiration on rowing or leaping or kicking a ball or hitting it with a bat, nor imagine that great skill of this kind is helpful or desirable. It is generally an accomplishment of those whose spiritual being is callous or superficial. These sports are not the best means even for promoting health and physical culture, which are the result of moderate, not violent exercise, of temperance, cleanliness, sleep, cheerful thoughts and worthy aims followed in a brave and generous spirit.

Mere strength of body is not a test either of endurance or of vitality. We die from sensual excess, or from despondency, or from both. Indulgence and disappointment kill more than work, which if it be full of joy and hope, brings length of days. Worry, whatever its source, weakens, takes away courage, and shortens life. Our sons murder us, said a rich man, speaking of a friend who had just died.

The sweet idleness praised by poets and lovers is not idleness, but leisure to give one's self to high thoughts and loftier moods. The really idle are oppressed by a sense of fatigue, and therefore tiresome to themselves and others. Let those who complain of having to work undertake to do nothing. If this do not convert them, nothing will. Those who live in inaction on the fruits of the labors of others lose the power to enjoy, come to feel existence to be a burden, and fall a prey to life-weariness. He sits uneasy at the feast who thinks of the starving; he is not comfortable at his own fireside who remembers those who have none. To know that life is good one must be conscious that he is helping- to make it good at least for a few.

Work, not play, is the divine opportunity. The outcome of civilization, if we continue to make progress, must be that to each and everyone work shall be given to do, which while it provides the necessaries and comforts of life, will cheer, strengthen, console, purify, and enlighten; and when this day comes the Nineteenth century shall appear to have been but little better than the Ninth;


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