This section is from the book "Applications of Psychology to the Problems of Personal and Business Efficiency", by Warren Hilton. Also available from Amazon: Psychology and Achievement - Applied Psychology 12 Volume Set.
YOU are called upon to master and conserve the innate energies of your mind. This means that you must (1) find out where these energies are stored, and (2) learn the conditions that determine their activity.
All past experiences are conserved within us in the form of complexes. These complexes consist of ideas, emotions and impulses to muscular activity. By the primary law of association the recall to consciousness of any one of these component elements of a complex brings with it all the rest.
For example, the ideas pertaining to any terrifying experience, when recalled to consciousness, bring with them the trembling, the wildly beating heart, the shaking knees, with which they were originally accompanied. The victim of stage-fright feels his knees give way and that he is sinking to the floor; his heart beats tumultuously, cold perspiration covers his body, he blushes, his mouth is dry, and his voice sticks in his throat. Afterwards, alone in his own room, the memory of that dreadful moment, the thought of another appearance before that audience, will be accompanied by the same physiological effects.
Every such bodily movement is an expression of energy. The recall to consciousness of the terrifying experience, the recall of the picture of the assembled audience, these things automatically produce bodily activities. So we must conclude that Every idea in memory has associated with it the potential energy necessary for the production of muscular movement.
It does not necessarily follow that the recall to consciousness of a given idea will be invariably followed by an outwardly visible muscular activity expressive of its energy. Just as the mere presence of an idea in consciousness tends to bring about a movement, so the presence of a contrary idea will tend to inhibit it.
Try to imagine that you are bending your forefinger. At the same time hold it straight. Your finger will actually tremble with the dammed-up energy of the repressed impulse. But the finger will not actually move, because the idea of its not moving is just as much a part of your consciousness as the idea of its moving. Put out of your consciousness this thought of the finger's not moving, and forthwith the finger will bend.
Your conduct during your waking hours is thus always the result of opposing forces, some tending in one direction, others tending to counteract the first. Thus there comes about a great waste of mental power and an appalling loss of individual efficiency.
In the language of sport, you are suffering from a lack of mental "team work." The effect is the same as if the members of a football team, instead of combining their forces against the opposing side, should spend their time in restraining one another.
It requires but one step, and not a difficult one at that, to lead you to the conclusion that the solution of this problem lies in having in consciousness at any one moment only such ideas as harmonize. Let that condition prevail, and the potential energies of all ideas in consciousness must flow together in a broad stream of useful and exhilarating activity.
Your work should be a source of pleasure to you. If it is simply a disagreeable task that has to be performed, if it is a "daily grind," if you have to hold yourself to it by unremitting effort of the will, you are no better than a rusty engine, and all your workings will be accompanied by jars, frictions, and complaining squeaks that bespeak a positively wicked loss of power.
Hold the right thoughts persistently in mind, and you cannot help working steadily on toward the goal you are thinking of. Keep steadily at work with the right thoughts persistently in mind and success is sure to come.
Success, then, lies in the concentration of mental energies. And this concentration is to be brought about by holding in consciousness only those ideas that harmonize.
There must be the greatest discrimination and care used in the selection of these ideas that are to constitute such a co-ordinating consciousness. There must be a "re-imaging" or imagination in a literal and practical sense of those ideas only that carry with them impulses to motion in the same general direction. You must have a set purpose in life, and you must yield your powers without hindrance and without reservation to the accomplishment of that set purpose.
I. You must exercise deliberate, patient and persistent watchfulness to detect and repress all useless bodily movements. You have all sorts of silly habits, twitchings, jerkings, itchings, winkings, shrugs, frowns, coughs, snifflings and odd and meaningless gestures. Watch yourself. Do these things no more. Save your eyes and ears and hands and nerves, all your mental energy, for useful effort.
II. You must give yourself, mind and body, to one thing at a time, disregarding all that would lure you from your chosen task.
III. You must acquire a self-conscious sense of your own self-mastery. It will help you to acquire this feeling if you will continually assert, "I can and will accomplish anything that I am determined upon! I have the power of will! I will accomplish this thing! I will!" Make these assertions with all the force and intensity of your whole being until you are pervaded with a sense of your own power. Do this faithfully, and in time this courageous and manly attitude will become an inherent part of your personality.
IV. You must have confidence. And when we say confidence we do not mean a purely intellectual conviction. We mean a profoundly emotional faith. It will help you to cultivate this feeling of confidence if you will affirm many times a day, "I have implicit confidence in myself! I have perfect faith in my own powers! I am absolute master of myself and of my career!" Practice affirmations of this kind persistently, and in time your mind will have permanently acquired the habit of facing the facts of life in the way essential to success.
V. You must exert a favorable influence upon the mental attitude of those about you. This is not so difficult as it would appear. You cannot yourself acquire will-power, confidence and courage without impressing others with your possession of these qualities. Personalities are revealed one to another by faint and suggestive activities all unconsciously perceived. Your concentration of energy will inspire others. You will radiate an "atmosphere" of success. You will subtly influence your associates. You will be a force to reckon with, and the world will know it. Your air of success will draw others to you, will bring business and goodwill, and men and money will seek a share in your enterprises.
Master your mental energies, train them, concentrate them, - thus only may you win riches with honor.
Thus broadly put, there is, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say there seems to be, nothing startlingly new about this proposition.
The world has always realized that singleness of purpose, concentration of effort, is essential to success.
But in the past the world has possessed no formula by which these qualities might be acquired.
Men have endeavored to create in themselves the necessary qualities for success, having no knowledge of the mental elements that went into their composition.
They have tried to run the mental engine knowing nothing of its mechanism.
Some few have been lucky, but the path has been strewn with a thousand failures to one that paased on to success.
There are some business men who look upon psychology as "blue-sky" theorizing or "new thought." There are others who have a hazy idea that it is a sort of unfathomable mystery intended to amuse long-haired scientists. The truth is that every one of these same business men, if he is getting ahead, is unconsciously using psychological principles to the profit of his own business every day in the year.
In the books that are to follow we shall show you the immense practical value of a truly scientific psychology. You shall come into the psychological laboratory with us and work out rational, scientific and exact methods by which, without possibility of failure and with but reasonable effort, you can at any moment completely concentrate your mental powers. You shall be instructed in simple devices for mastering scattered energies, repressing wasteful habits, banishing depressive moods and raising yourself to a far higher level of commercial efficiency.