|ABOUT THE AUTHOR.......................................|
|Chapter 1 - DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY......................|
|Chapter 2 - KILL WORRY AND LIVE LONGER.................|
|Chapter 3 - FREE OF FEAR, FREE TO LIVE.................|
|Chapter 4 - YOU CAN HAVE POWER OVER YOUR DIFFICULTIES..|
|Chapter 5 - YOU CAN HAVE LIFE IF YOU WANT IT...........|
|Chapter 6 - STOP BEING TIRED—LIVE ENERGETICALLY........|
|Chapter 7 - GAIN BEAUTY BY HOLDING THE BEAUTY THOUGHT..|
|Chapter 8 - GROWING OLD A HABIT........................|
Worry, Be Happy
One who could rid the world of worry would render greater service to the race than all of the inventors and discoverers that ever lived.
We Americans pity ignorant savages who live in terror of their cruel gods, their demons which keep them in abject slavery, but we ourselves are the slaves of a demon which blasts our hopes, blights our happiness, casts its hideous shadow across all our pleasures, destroys our sleep, mars our health, and keeps us in misery most of our lives.
This monster dogs us from the cradle to the grave. There is no occasion so sacred but it is there. Unbidden it comes to the wedding and the funeral alike. It is at every reception, every banquet; it occupies a seat at every table.
No human intellect can estimate the unutterable havoc and ruin wrought by worry. It has forced genius to do the work of mediocrity; it has caused more failures, more broken hearts, more blasted hopes, than any other one cause since the dawn of the world.
What have not men done under the pressure of worry! They have plunged into all sorts of vice; have become drunkards, drug fiends; have sold their very souls in their efforts to escape this monster.
Think of the homes which it has broken up; the ambitions it has ruined; the hopes and prospects it has blighted! Think of the suicide victims of this demon! If there is any devil in existence, is it not worry, with all its attendant progeny of evils?
Yet, in spite of all the tragic evils that follow in its wake, a visitor from another world would get the impression that worry is one of our dearest, most helpful friends so closely do we hug it to ourselves and so loath are we to part from it.
Is it not unaccountable that people who know perfectly well that success and happiness both depend on keeping themselves in condition to get the most possible out of their energies should harbor in their minds the enemy of this very success and happiness? Is it not strange that they should form this habit of anticipating evils that will probably never come, when they know that anxiety and fretting will not only rob them of peace of mind and strength and ability to do their work, but also of precious years of life?
Many a strong man is tied down, like Gulliver, by Lilliputians — bound hand and foot by the little worries and vexations he has never learned to conquer.
What would be thought of a businessman who would keep in his service employees known to have been robbing him for years, stealing a little here and a little there everyday? Yet one may be keeping in his mental business house, at the very source of his power, a thief infinitely worse than one who merely steals money or material things; a thief who robs him of energy, saps his vitality, and bankrupts him of all that makes life worthwhile.
We borrow trouble; endure all our lives the woe of crossing and recrossing bridges weeks and years before we come to them; do disagreeable tasks mentally over and over again before we reach them; anticipate our drudgery and constantly suffer from the apprehension of terrible things that never happen.
I know women who never open a telegram without trembling for they feel sure it will announce the death of a friend or some terrible disaster. If their children have gone for a sail or a picnic, they are never easy a moment during their absence; they work themselves into a fever of anxiety for fear that something will happen to them.
Many a mother fritters away more energy in useless frets and fears for her children, in nervous strain over this or that, than she uses for her daily routine of domestic work. She wonders why she is so exhausted at the close of the day, and never dreams that she has thrown away the greater part of her force.
Is it not strange that people will persist in allowing little worries, petty vexations, and unnecessary frictions to grind life away at such a fearful rate that old age stares them in the face in middle life? Look at the women who are shriveled and shrunken and aged at thirty, not because of the hard work they have done, or the real troubles they have had, but because of habitual fretting, which has helped nobody, but has brought discord and unhappiness to their homes.
Somewhere I read of a worrying woman who made a list of the unfortunate events and happenings which she felt sure would come to pass and be disastrous to her happiness and welfare. The list was lost, and to her amazement, when she recovered it, a long time afterwards, she found that not a single unfortunate experience in the whole catalogue of disastrous predictions had taken place.
Is not this a good suggestion for worriers? Write down everything which you think is going to turn out badly, and then put the list aside. You will be surprised to see what a small percentage of the doleful things ever come to pass.
It is a pitiable thing to see vigorous men and women, who have inherited godlike qualities and bear the impress of divinity, wearing anxious faces and filled with all sorts of fear and uncertainty, worrying about yesterday, today, tomorrow — everything imaginable.
In entering New York by train every morning, I notice businessmen with hard, tense expressions on their faces, leaning forward when the train approaches the station, as if they could hasten its progress and save time, many of them getting up from their seats and rushing toward the door several minutes before the train stops. Anxiety is in every movement; a hurried nervousness in their manner; and their hard, drawn countenances — all these are indications of an abnormal life.
Work kills no one, but worry has killed multitudes. It is not the doing of things which injures us so much as the dreading of them — not only performing them menially over and over again, but anticipating something disagreeable in that performance.
Many of us approach an unpleasant task in much the same condition as a runner who begins his start such a long distance away that by the time he reaches his objective point — the ditch or the stream which is to test his agility — he is too exhausted to jump across.
Worry not only saps vitality and wastes energy, but it also seriously affects the quality of one's work. It cuts down ability. A man cannot get the same quality of efficiency into his work when his mind is troubled. The mental faculties must have perfect freedom before they will give out their best. A troubled brain cannot think clearly, vigorously, and logically. The attention cannot be concentrated with anything like the same force when the brain cells are poisoned with anxiety as when they are fed by pure blood and are clean and uncloudy. The blood of chronic worriers is vitiated with poisonous chemical substances and broken-down tissues, according to Professor Elmer Gates and other noted scientists, who have shown that the passions and the harmful emotions cause actual chemical changes in the secretions and generate poisonous substances in the body which are fatal to healthy growth and action.
The brain cells are constantly bathed in the blood, from which they draw their nourishment, and when the blood is loaded with the poison of fear, worry, anger, hatred, or jealousy, the protoplasm of those delicate cells becomes hardened and very materially impaired.
The most pathetic effect of worry is its impairment of the thinking powers. It so clogs the brain and paralyzes thought that the results of the worrier's work merely mock his ambition, and often lead to the drink or drug habit. Its continued friction robs the brain cells of an opportunity, to renew themselves; and so after awhile there is a breakdown of the nervous system and then the worrier suffers from insomnia and other nervous ailments, and sometimes becomes hopelessly insane.
If you never accomplish anything else in life, get rid of worry. There are no greater enemies of harmony than little anxieties and petty cares. Do not flies aggravate a nervous horse more than his regular work? Do not little naggings, constantly touching him with the whip, or jerking at the reins fret and worry him more than the labor of drawing the carriage?
It is the little pinpricks, the petty annoyances of our everyday life, that mar our comfort and happiness and rob us of more strength than the great troubles which we nerve ourselves to meet. It is the perpetual scolding and fault-finding of an irritable man or woman which ruins the entire peace and happiness of many a home.
An habitual worrier — an aged woman — said to her physician, "My head feels dull-like, and I've kinder lost the power to worry over things." A great many people would be much troubled were they to lose the power to worry over things. They think it their duty to worry. They would not feel that they were conscientious or faithful if they were not always anxious over what they were doing. They would not think they were showing a proper interest.
Anticipating a thing tends to bring it to us. Worry about disease is a disease producer. It is well known that many victims of the great plagues of history have been slain simply by fear and dread.
The digestive organs are extremely sensitive to worry, and when the digestion is interfered with the whole physical economy is thrown into disorder.
Worry and fear will not only whiten the hair, but will also cause premature baldness — a condition known as nervous baldness. Another result is a loss of tone and elasticity in the facial muscles. "The lips, cheeks, and lower jaw," says Darwin, "all sink downward from their own weight."
Worry not only makes a woman look older, but also actually makes her older. It is a chisel which cuts cruel furrows in the face. I have seen a face so completely changed by a few weeks of anxiety that the whole countenance had a different expression and the individual seemed almost like another person.
One of the worst forms of worry is that of not getting on in the world. It blights the ambition, deadens the purpose, and defeats the very object the worrier has in view.
Some people have the unfortunate habit of brooding over their past lives, castigating themselves for their shortcomings and mistakes, until their whole vision is turned backward instead of forward, and they see everything in a distorted light, because they are looking only on the shadow side.
The longer the unfortunate picture which has caused trouble remains in the mind, the more thoroughly it becomes imbedded, and the more difficult it is to remove it; but as long as it is there it will continue its mischief.
Did you ever hear of any good coming to any human being from worry? Did it ever help anybody to better his condition! Does it not always — everywhere — do just the opposite by impairing the health, exhausting the vitality, lessening efficiency?
A great deal can be done to correct the causes of worry by keeping up the health standard. A good digestion, a clear conscience, and sound sleep kill a lot of trouble. Worry thrives best under abnormal conditions. It cannot get much of a hold on a man with a superb physique — a man who lives a clean, sane life. It thrives on the weak — those of low vitality.
We see women resorting to massage, electricity, exercises, chin straps, wrinkle plasters, and all sorts of things to erase the terrible ravages of worry and anxiety, apparently ignorant of the fact that the supreme remedy — the great panacea — is in the mind; they continue to worry as to how they shall get rid of the effects of worry!
Nothing else will so quickly drive away worry as the habit of cheerfulness, of making the best of things, of refusing to see the ugly side of life.
When you feel fear or anxiety entering your thought, just fill your mind instantly with courage, hope, and confidence. Refuse to let any enemies of your happiness and success camp in your mind. Drive out the whole brood of vampires.
You can kill worry thoughts easily when you know the antidote; and this you always have in your mind. You do not have to go to a drug store or a physician for it. It is always with you — always ready. All you have to do is to substitute hope, courage, cheerfulness, serenity, for despondency, discouragement, pessimism, worry. Opposite thoughts will not live together. The presence of one excludes the other.
daily," said Patti,
"when they look at my
without a wrinkle, what I do to keep so young. I tell them that
whenever I have felt a wrinkle coming I have laughed it away. My advice
to the woman who wants to remain young is: 'Be happy — don't worry,
Worry and Live Longer
Once in Los Angeles, I delivered a public lecture using as a title the subject of this chapter, "Kill Worry and Live Longer." A newspaper misprinted the title to read, "Kill Worry and Love Longer." no doubt this mistake unconsciously represented the Hollywood influence.
Upon reflection, however, perhaps the garbled version wasn't too wide off the mark. For if you kill worry you will love longer. You will love your wife and children longer. You will love life longer. Kill worry and you will live longer and love longer, either way you take it. Fortunate, indeed, is the person who has learned to' live without worry.
One glorious May day Mrs. Marden and I were driving in West Virginia. We came down a wide highway to a cross road where a little road meandered off up a valley and into the mountains. At the intersection was a sign pointed to the smaller road. Intriguingly, it read, "Sunshine Valley."
I turned to Mrs. Marden and asked, "Shall we go up Sunshine Valley?"
And she answered, "Let's go up Sunshine Valley."
I am glad we made this side trip because it was there that we met Tommy Martin. We left the car and sat by one of those clear, rushing mountain streams coming down our of the blue misery hills on its way to the sea. We were listening to the music of water singing over the rocks and watching it swiftly disappear under a bridge, when Tommy came into view. He was about twelve years old and was sauntering down the road wearing a slouch hat, high boots, and well-worth trousers. He was chewing bubble gum and had a fishing rod slung over his shoulder. He looked us over with level gaze and apparently liked us, for he said, "Hi".
And then he turned to me, as though to an old friend, "Haven't you a pole? Well, come on, I'll fish for both of us." He took me to where two streams met. There he declared, the best trout were to be found. He waded into the stream, cast his line and, in a brief moment, up came a beautiful trout. As he took it off the hook, I asked weather he was using dry flies or lures. Chewing mightily he answered, "No, just plain old worms. They're better then fancy lures." Then he explained that the trout he had just taken was a brook trout and added, "I shot a deer in these woods last winter."
I asked him one of those stupid adult questions: "How come you're not in school?" It was Thursday after all. He made some sort of answer which I didn't get, but it sounded vague. And that day, as I sat on the bank watching this twelve year old boy fishing in a sun speckled trout stream, I fell to wondering which of us knew more about living, he or I? And I asked, "Tommy, do you ever worry about anything?"
He looked at me with big brown eyes and answered in his mountain twang, "Worry? Shucks, there ain't nohin'' to worry about!" Presently I went back to Mrs. Warden, wondering if I could ever be like Tommy Martin.
Well, of course the truth is that adult life brings certain responsibilities, which are inescapable facts of maturity. And we have to live in a world that requires much of us. But isn't it possible, no matter what our lot of how heavy our duties, to retain a gay and youthful spirit? I firmly believe that it is, and the purpose of this book is to help you recapture that spirit of joy and trust.
When I say you can leave worry behind, I do not imply that you should be indifferent to human suffering or have a careless disregard for the problems of society. Indeed, the elimination of worry will help you be a more effective citizen of the world. It is very important to acquire that sense of peace and confidence which makes you so much more adequate as a person.
The word worry is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning to strangle or choke. If someone were to place their fingers around your throat and press with full strength, cutting off you vital supply of air, he would be doing to you dramatically, what you do to yourself if, over a long period of time, you are victim of worry. You block of your own flow of power Worry frustrates your best functioning.
I hope therefore, you can develop Tommy Martin's philosophy: "Shucks, their ain't nohin'' to worry about." And there isn't—not as long as we have God. And that is for always.
The ill effects of worry are well known to doctors. A new England physician wrote me saying, "I have noted in my practice over a good many years that fear either causes or accelerates many maladies." And, he added, "the best antidote 1 know is simple faith."
Dr. Walter Clement Alyarez of the Mayo Clinic is reported to have said, "We little realize the number of human diseases that are begun or are effected by worry." Dr. Seaward Wood, of the University of Oklahoma Medical School, in an address before the nose and throat section of the American Medical Association on the relation of worry to the common cold and to infection of the sinuses and asthma said, "One young woman patient can turn asthma on and off by turning worry on and off."
A physician asked me to see a patient who had been admitted to the hospital with seemingly genuine symptoms of a heart-attack, including shortness of breath and pains in the chest. "But," explained the doctor, "I am inclined to suspect that it is not a real heart but rather an anxiety heart. Will you talk to him and explore the psychological and spiritual basis of his anxiety?"
After counseling, it was ascertained that the patient did, indeed, suffer from actual anxiety. I discovered that this man, now in his sixties, had committed several sex sins in earlier life. As far as I was able to determine such incidents were limited to that early period and his conduct, subsequently, had been impeccable. He had lived in constant fear, however, that his wrongdoing would be discovered.
Those old sins had created a deep sense of guilt and had hatched a flock of fears and tensions that had haunted him for years until now they actually had him back in a hospital, with symptoms of a heart-attack. His illness was entirely due to this long-held anxieties. We were able to help him find forgiveness and to achieve healthy mindedness about the entire matter. His physical symptoms gradually disappeared, and he returned to normal health. The doctor expressed the opinion that had the guilt-worry complex continued, the man could actually have died of the physical condition which it stimulated.
Frequently you hear people say, "I'm sick with worry," or "I'm worried nearly to death." There is more truth in these statements than you might suppose, for worry can indeed make you sick and has even been known to cause death. It is a fact that by killing worry we can, in all probability, live longer and certainly live much better.
The basic secret of overcoming worry is the substitution of faith for fear as your dominant mental attitude. Two great forces in the world are more powerful than all others. One is fear, and other is faith; and faith is stronger than fear. Basically, then, the method for overcoming worry is deliberately and consistently to fill the mind with faith until fear is displaced.
Of course, normal fear is a healthy mechanism built into us by Almighty God for our protection. Abnormal fear, on the contrary, is a pattern of unhealthy thinking that is both destructive and disintegrating. It is one of the most potent enemies of personality. Abnormal fear seems to posses the inherent power to cause ill health and even disaster.
A doctor felt this so keenly that when called to a home where he found members of the family clustered anxiously and apprehensively about his patient, projecting to him their fear thoughts, he took direct action. He told them, vigorously, that they were filling the patient's room so full of "fear germs" that his healing efforts were valueless. To dramatize his concern, the doctor threw the windows open wide. A strong gale whipped the curtains straight out. "I've got to fumigate this room of fear germs," he explained brusquely. "Unless you people start thinking faith instead of fear you are going to make it very hard for me to help. As that strong wind blows through this room purifying it, let the power of faith purify your minds of this destructive apprehension. You must stop surrounding my patient with the virus of fear." This may seem a curious procedure but it was no doubt an effective way to dramatize the influence of fear in sickness.
Worry may be described as a spasm of the emotions in which the mind takes hold of a thought or obsession, clutches it spasmodically, and will not let it go. To break its hold one must gently, but forcibly, insinuate a healthier and stronger idea into the mind's conclusive grasp. This stronger idea is that of faith of God. When faith rather than fear, becomes your obsession you will master worry.
And how does one fill the mind so completely with faith that fear will be displaced? It is not easily done. One method is to read books about people who have overcome their fears. Do not read about weak, disorganized, and mixed-up people except as it may show you how to find constructive answers. Much fiction today deals with unhappy, blundering, conflicted, and defeated people. Many current novels contain the pathetic accounts of those who have never found themselves, who really do not know what life is all about? These books have the air of sophistication, but actually they are not sophisticated at all. The word sophistication means worldly wise, to know your way around. The unhappy characters in these books are certainly not very wise, judging from the astonishing lack of solution they demonstrate.
But tremendous stories are available about people who have overcome every manner of difficulty and fear by applying the skills of faith. Saturate your mind with such biographical material and it will help recondition your life and free you from worry.
An important technique is to fill your mind with the fear-eliminating words of the Bible. There is an enormous power in the words of the Scriptures. The Bible says. "If ye abide in, me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7) Read and study the Bible, underlining every passage that has to do with faith. Assemble a great collection of such passages and, each day, absorb at least one into consciousness. That is best done by committing it to memory. Repeat the passage many times during the day, conceiving of it as dropping from your conscious into your unconscious by a process of spiritual osmosis. Visualize your unconscious as grasping it and fully absorbing it into your personality.
The following day commit and absorb another faith-passage in the same manner. At the end of the one week, seven life-changing passages should have become a definite part of your mental equipment. On the seventh day, go over the seven verses you have absorbed. Meditate on each one, seeking to understand their deeper meanings.
You now have seven powerful faith concepts lodged in your mind, any one of which is well able to overcome fear thoughts. At the end of a month you will have received into consciousness thirty passages of faith and hope and courage. If you truly absorb these and live by them, you will definitely gain control over worry.
Still another method is to make use of freshly conceived and unhackneyed symbols which may, in themselves, seem extraordinary simple, but which have the power to direct the mind into new attitudes of faith.
In a radio talk I used the phrase, "Trust God and live a day at a time," and some weeks later received from a woodcraft company an attractive sign upon which, in raised letters, were these same words, "Trust God and Live a Day at a Time."
Accompanying was a letter which said: "I heard your radio talk. My business was going badly and I was filled with overwhelming fear and anxiety. I had come to believe that success in my little business was absolutely impossible; but when you used that phrase, 'Trust God and live a Day at a time' it struck me forcibly. So I had it made up in wood and placed it at the foot of the stairway in my home. Every night on my way up to bed I would look at it and affirm, 'Trust God and live a day at a time.'
"I said over those words the last thing before falling asleep. It helped to put the day behind me. Then I would ask God to give me a good night's sleep. In the morning, coming down to breakfast, that sign would remind me to trust God and live that day only. I felt more peaceful and confident.
"Presently I began to take the attitude that just one day was all I had to worry about and so I would give that day all I had of faith and effort. I began to believe that God would be with me all that day. And He was, too" The letter concludes be saying, "My business isn't out of the woods yet, but it is on the way and I see light ahead."
By the practice of the simple device, this hitherto worried man changed his outlook and his motivation from one of fear and anxiety to one of faith and hope. I find it helpful, also, for I placed the sign in my office where I can see it daily.
Another technique for destroying worry is to set against it the contrary attitude of boldness. Obviously, the worrier is not a bold person; but boldness can be cultivated. This again is not easy, but nothing worthwhile can be attained without persistent effort. The first step is to start thinking in terms of boldness. Undertake some constructive thing that frightens you; but think boldly about it.
Picture yourself as boldly attacking and overcoming your fears. Ficturised concepts in conscious mind will, if reiterated impress themselves deeply within the subconscious. But assumed boldness must not be mere cockiness. It must be soundly based on faith as expressed by the words, "Fear not: for I am with thee." (Isaiah 43:5) by this method of boldness your fear will disintegrate, for it cannot long maintain itself in the atmosphere of spiritual courage. Emerson advises, "Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain."
Steel yourself, by an act of will, to do that which you fear, whereupon you will discover that the feared thing is not as strong as you thought it to be. My dear friend, the late Grove Patterson, one of America's greatest newspaper editors, said, "when a man has quietly made up his mind that there is nothing he cannot endure, his fears leave him." We need to emphasize the importance of will power, for in many it has become flabby. It can become strong through use, however; so use yours.
Boldness will reveal to you that you are stronger than you have imagined. Fear will diminish and courage rise in direct proportion to the effectiveness with which you put boldness into effect. Practice first, the bold thought and second the bold act. This will stimulate supporting spiritual forces that will enable you to overcome fear.
The well-known writer Arthur Gordon contributed an article to Guideposts magazine which I regard as a classic in the literature of overcoming fear:
"Once when I was facing a decision that involved (I thought) considerable risk, I took the problem to a friend much older and wiser than myself. 'I'd go ahead' I said unhappily, 'if I were sure I could swing it. But . . .'
"He looked at me for a moment, then scribbled ten words on a piece of paper and pushed it across the desk. I picked it up and read, in a single sentence, the best advice I ever had: 'Be bold— and mighty forces will come to your aid.'
"It's amazing how even a fragment of truth will illuminate things. The thought my friend had written was inspired by a book. I discovered later, by Basil King. It made me see clearly that in the past, whenever I had fallen short in almost any undertaking, it was seldom because I had tried and failed. It was because I had let fear of failure stop me from trying at all.
"On the other hand, whenever I had plunged into deep water, impelled by a momentary flash of courage or just plain push by the rude hand of circumstance, I had always been able to swim until I got my feet on the ground again.
"Be bold—that was no exhortation to be reckless or foolhardy. Boldness meant a deliberate decision, from time to time, to bite off more than you were sure you could chew." And there was nothing vague or mysterious about the mighty forces referred to. They were the latent powers that all of us possess: energy, skill, sound judgment, creative ideas—yes, even physical strength and endurance in far greater measure than most of us realize.
"Boldness, in other words, creates a state of emergency to which the organism will respond. I once heard a famous British mountaineer say that occasionally a climber will get himself into a position where he can't back down, he can only go up. He added that sometimes he put himself into such a spot on purpose." When there's nowhere to go but up,' he said, 'you jolly will go up.'
"Some of the mighty forces that will come to your aid are, admittedly, psychic forces. But they are more important than physical ones. It's curious actually, how spiritual laws often have their counterpart in the physical world.
"A college classmate of mine was a crack football player, noted particularly for his fierce tackling although he was much lighter than the average varsity player. Someone remarked that it was surprising that he didn't get hurt.
'Well,' he said, 'I think it goes back to something I discovered when I was a somewhat timid youngster playing safety-man. I suddenly found myself confronting the opposing fullback who had nothing but me between him and our goal line. He looked absolutely gigantic! I was so frightened that I closed my eyes and hurled myself at him like a panicky bullet. . . and stopped him cold. Right there I learned that the harder you tackle a bigger player, the less likely you are to be hurt. The reason is simple: momentum equals weight times velocity.'
"In other words, if you are bold enough even the laws of motion will come to your aid." So concludes Arthur Gordon's inspiring article.
But since fear is composed of shadows and ghosts it tends to become sinister and overpowering. Boldness helps to project the light of truth through the fog which fear creates in the mind. Then, by common sense and complete realism, you know that fear is, very largely, the product of fevered imagination.
So the method is first, get a clear, straight view of your fear; second, meet it boldly, head on; and third, with God's help resolutely have done with it.
A friend told to me that for years he was a confirmed worrier. "But one New Year's Eve," he said, "I was scheduled to go to a party and had an hour of leisure before I was due to leave for that event. So, the year's end being an appropriate time for taking personal stock, I decided to write on paper all my worries so that I could adequately appraise them."
He found that he was able to remember his worries of that particular day, December 31st, and December 30th, 29th, and 28th; but he had a less clear definition of his worries through the preceding week. And he could scarcely recall what he had worried about back in November. By the time he had worked back as far as September he found that his worries were just a hazy jumble in his mind.
"I was so disgusted," he said, at this proof of the foolishness of worry that I rolled that paper up in a ball and threw it hard against the wall. It bounced off and appropriately lodged in the wastebasket. Then," he continued, "I asked forgiveness for being so lacking in faith. God had watched over me in the past; I knew I could count on His watchful care in the future. I decided I would more diligently live the life of faith. I became more diligent in analyzing any new worry as a result of these tactics. Worry is no longer a problem," he concluded. This man saw his fear for what it was; he stood up to it, and so he defeated it.
In this incident please note the emphasis upon diligence. It reminds me of an interesting remark by my friend Walter Annenberg, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Diligence is entitled to a come back." It is a virtue Americans once valued very highly. Today, no less than formerly, real achievement is impossible without it. And diligence is important in eliminating personality defects.
So, stand up diligently to the thing you fear, and in this manner kill your fear.
Some years ago I addressed a dinner meeting at which another speaker was a United States Senator who surprisingly claimed that he "hated to make a speech." He was a huge, athletic man and in his early days had been a prize fighter; he told me that one reason he entered public life was because he feared making a speech and he realized that as a public man he would be forced to make speeches.
"I wasn't afraid of the man I faced in the prize ring," he said, "but I was afraid of standing before a crowd and trying to talk to them. So, I just had to learn to make speeches because I was not content to live in fear of something." Senator Warren Barber did the thing he feared and so he put his fear to death. Incidentally, he became an accomplished speaker.
I repeat, fear is conglomeration of sinister shadows, and a shadow has no substance, it is usually only a magnified reflection of something very small. That is why, in standing boldly up to a fear, you often find it inconsequential. An illustration of this truth comes to my mind which, I am sorry to say, does not reflect particular credit on the author. On our honeymoon my wife and I went to a delightful, but isolated cabin in the north Woods of new York State. A friend who had kindly offered us the use of this cabin said, "You should go off alone with your bride so that you can get to know each other." Well, my wife learned some things about me which were not very inspiring.
We arrived at the cabin, deep in the woods, after dark. I built a fire while my wife cooked dinner. Meanwhile, I sat by the fire and read the newspaper. It contained the report of a murder in Utica, not many miles distant, and stated that the killer was loose in the North Woods. The fearful thought flickered across my mind, "I hope he doesn't come near our cabin."
After dinner we sat before the fire. For a supposedly quiet retreat that cabin was one of the noisiest imaginable. Creaks and rattles and thuds sounded all about. I tried to be gay, but it was forced. My wife was enjoying herself to the fullest, for she had no fears whatsoever. Finally I heard a noise that sounded like a step on the porch. Then shuffling sounds, and another step. Cold chills ran up and down my spine. "Could it possibly be the fugitive murderer?" I thought with a chill. But I had to act like a man before my bride.
"Don't be afraid," I said blusteringly. "I'll handle this."
She looked at me questioningly. "Who's afraid? What's the matter with you?"
"There is someone outside," I explained, "and the only thing to do is to walk right out there and face him. So here goes."
I walked over to the door, stood a moment pulling myself together, then jerked it open violently and there sat a little chipmunk, looking at me with a twinkle in its eye.
I told this story one night when I sat with the late Wendell Wilkie at a dinner of the Ohio Society of New York. His comment was, "All my life I have discovered that when I stand up like a man to the things I am afraid of, like your chipmunk, they shrink into insignificance."
This is not to say that everything you fear in this life is chipmunk size. Some fears are substantial. But you can handle the real ones more efficiently when you are not afraid of them. Always remember that in fear your mind unnaturally increases the size of an obstacle. With boldness based on faith, even if there is a real difficulty, it will remain its own size and not be inflated; and you can handle it.
The deep unconscious fears which were, perhaps, planted in your mind in childhood can likewise be killed when you apply the cold light of reason and take a firm attitude toward them. Unconsciously, parents project their own fears, and children, like sensitive antennae, pick them up. Your present fears may have their roots in your childhood experience. When the original source of your fear is determined it is easier to eliminate it. Always remember, in dealing with fear, that it may owe its existence to some old, vague memory and has no present substance.
I remember hearing of a strange fear developed by a farmer's horse. As a young colt it was driven past a dark stump. The horse shied at the stump rather violently. Every time thereafter, that the farmer drove past this stump the fright was reenacted.
The farmer rooted out the stump and planted grass on the spot so that no vestige of the stump remained. But still, every time the horse passed the spot, he shied. The farmer, a wise man, drove the horse around and around this spot, over it and past it and through it until the horse knew there was nothing there and was able finally to pass the place without fear.
We, too shy in fear at shadowy remembrances, the meanings of which have long faded into the past.
As a child I often spent the summers at the home of my grandfather. He was a good and kindly man, but his fears unconsciously affected me. In closing up the house at night he would lock the door, shake the doorknob, walk away, then go back and shake the knob a third time. It was a ritual from which he never deviated. Doubtless it was a compulsive neurosis that if he did not try the doorknob three times "something" would happen. My grandfather was one of the finest human beings I ever knew, but this practice indicated a fear psychosis.
Years later I become aware of a curious tendency to retry doorknobs myself. But when I gained insight into the origin of this tendency, I was cured of it. One night I was alone in my apartment in New York City. When I came home late that evening the doorman informed me that I was the only person sleeping in that huge fifteen-story apartment house that night. I turned on all the lights and was very conscious of the silence. I went around and locked all the, doors. As I locked the main door I shook the doorknob, walked away, came back, shook it a second time and walked away. I started back to try the knob for the third time, impelled by an old childhood impulse buried in the subconscious. But suddenly I realized that a long memory out of my early childhood was reaching out to control my present actions. Therefore, I stopped by the door and said, "Oh, no Grandpa, I love you, but I will not try this doorknob a third time, I've locked the door, it's locked. There is nothing to be afraid of. Everything is all right. I hereby break this long shadowy, hitherto-unrealized hold of an ancient fear."
See your fears for what they are; then stand up to them and kill them. But undoing this you must have, not bravado, but faith. Nor is it a vague kind of faith; it is a strong substantial faith in God. Only faith in God can kill your fear. The ultimate technique for ending worry is to bring God into every fear situation. No fear can live in the presence of God. The deeper your faith in God becomes, the less power fear will have over you. The Bible outlines the process, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4)
A demonstration of this truth is the experience of J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the federal Bureau of Investigation. One would never think that a dynamic personality of proven courage would have had a struggle with fear; but all real men do.
Mr. Hoover told me, very sincerely, "I lost my fear in the power of my Lord." I liked the way he stated the matter. It is indeed a most powerful method for overcoming worry; lose your fear in the power of the Lord.
The power of faith is not intended, however, merely to free you from something, even from fear. The power of faith is a positive technique for developing your power to live efficiently. Worry has a stultifying effect upon mental aliveness. But when worry is cast out, then the mind, with fresh vigor and sharpened insight, can effectively function in developing creative ideas.
John M. Fox, president of the Minute Maid Corporation, movingly tells of his battle against worry and the tensions which affected him when he was starting his new great industry. He formed the first frozen juice concentrate company and directed it to its present dominant position in the concentrate field. But when he entered the business it was small indeed. In a public speech I heard Mr. Fox say:
"I should like to tell you of an experience I had during the early days of the company. Our problems had become seemingly insurmountable. Working capital had fallen to a zero level, sales were nonexistent, the frozen food industry, generally was on the verge of going broke.
"At this juncture I decided to attend the Canners Convention in Atlantic city. This was a mistake. Misery loves company and I found a plethora of company that year on the Boardwalk.
"My stomach began to ache—I worried about the stock we had sold to the public—I worried about the employees we had wheedled away from secure, well paying jobs. I went to sleep at night, eventually, worrying; I woke up early in the morning worrying; I even worried about the sleep I was losing.
"My family lived in Atlantic City so I was staying with them. Besides, it saved the hotel expense which we could ill afford. One day I was asked by my father to accompany him to a Rotary Club lunch. I had little stomach for this, but I knew Dad would feel hurt if I refused.
"My unhappiness with the decision to go to the Rotary lunch deepened when I saw that the speaker was to be a minister of the Gospel. My gloom was object that I was in no mood for a sermon. The minister was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Dr. Peale announced that his subject would be 'Tension — the Disease that is Destroying the American Businessman.'
"From the first words he uttered it was as though he were talking only to me. I knew I was the tensest man in the audience. The formula he gave for relaxing and putting aside worry I would like to repeat.
First, you relax physically. This is done by stretching out in bed or in a comfortable chair. Then you methodically and carefully concentrate on relaxing each part of your body. Start with your scalp, then your face, your neck, your shoulders and so on down until you are as loose as a pan of ashes.
"Second step — you relax your mind. You recall a pleasant incident in your life; a vacation, your honeymoon, a play, a book, anything that brings into your mind's eye a pleasant scene.
"Then finally, you relax your soul. This for most of us businessmen is a little tougher. But it can be done by renewing your faith in the Lord. You get right with God. You check your fears and worries with Him. He can handle them much better than you can. You do this in prayer. If you know no other prayer, the age-old children's one will do quite well, 'Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.'
"The first thing you know you'll be fast asleep. I know because, in desperation, I tried it out that very night I heard Dr. Peale tell about it. It not only worked, but I awoke the next morning refreshed and renewed and convinced we would work out of our jam some way. We did."
Scarcely have I seen an audience so deeply moved as were those five hundred businessmen at the New York luncheon who heard this dynamic industrial leader give sincere testimony to the power of faith to overcome worry in a practical situation.
Finally, may I remind you that victory over worry is not a complicated process. A long held fear pattern is not quickly or easily changed. But change is not impossible. I do not want to oversimplify the method but, actually, it is as simply as to take your worries to God, leave them with Him, and then go about your business with faith that His help is forthcoming.
George A. Straley tells about the sexton of a big city church who was puzzled, for every week he had been finding a sheet of blue-lined note paper crumpled into a small wad lying in a corner of the same rear pew. He smoothed out one of the little wads of paper and it had several penciled words: "Clara—ill, Lester—job, rent."
After that the sexton began looking for the paper wads weekly and they were always there after every Sunday morning service. He opened them all and then began to watch for the person who sat in that particular corner of the pew.
It was a woman, he discovered middle-aged, plain but kind faced, unassuming. She was always alone. The sexton told the pastor what he had observed the handed him the notes. The pastor read the cryptic words with furrowed brow. The next Sunday he contrived to meet the woman at the church door as she was leaving and asked her kindly if she would wait for him a moment. He showed her the notes and inquired gently about their meaning. Tears welled in the woman's eyes. She hesitated and then said softly, "You'll think it's silly, I guess, but I saw a sign among the advertising posters in a bus which said, 'Take your worries to church and leave them there.' My worries are written on those piece of paper. I write them down during the week, bring them on Sunday morning, and leave them, I feel that God is taking care of them."
"God has taken care of them," the pastor said softly. "Please continue to bring your worries and troubles to church and leave them here."
On his way out of the church the pastor paused to pick up the freshly wadded note that had been left that particular morning. Smoothing it out he saw that it contained three words, "John — in Korea."
So to be rid of your worries, simply take them to God and leave them there.
I once asked my readers to send me technique for overcoming worry which they had tested and found helpful. One came from a distinguished professor of English Literature in one of our oldest universities. She had used this same simple but very sound method for many years with great effectiveness.