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.
ACORAL island is composed of the cemented bodies of its tiny builders. It shows but little above the surface of the sea. There is a lake of iridescent green. There is an encircling ring of tropic vegetation. There are foaming breakers and gleaming sands. But in all you see you will find no hint of that mighty supporting structure that has its base in unfathomable depths and rises to the sun. Your mind is like this coral island.
It is built of the associated sense-impressions of all past experience. Just now, certain perceptions, emotions, impulses and ideas are scintillating in the sun of consciousness. Beneath the surface in the unlit sea of the subconscious is the mind that prompts the heartthrob and the breath - the mind of stored-up memories and powers, the mind that holds within itself the germ of all present achievement.
Considered from the standpoint of its activities, the subconscious is that department of mind, which on the one hand directs the vital operations of the body, and on the other conserves, sub-ject to the call of interest and attention, all ideas and complexes not at the mo« ment active in consciousness.
Observe, then, the possibility that lies before you. On the one hand, if you can control your mind in its subconscious activities, you can regulate the operation of your bodily functions, and can thus assure yourself of bodily efficiency and free yourself of functional disease. On the other hand, if you can determine just what ideas shall be brought forth from subconsiousness into consciousness, you can thus select the materials out of which will be woven your conscious judgments, your decisions and your emotional attitudes.
To achieve control of your mind is, then, to attain (a) health, (b) success, and (c) happiness, conditioned only by the circumstances of your environment
Not that the devouring ravages of invading bacteria can be rendered harmless or that the normal performance of bodily functions can be restored where the parts have been actually consumed or destroyed, but that, given the necessary food supplies, the organs of your body, from brain to digestive tracts, can through subconscious control be made to do their work with regularity and efficiency; that delusions, obsessions, bad habits, moral perversions and similar disorders can be eliminated; and the bodily operations, from the pulsation of the heart to the intestinal processes and the repair of tissue, can be made so automatically perfect as to leave you free to pursue the nobler ends of life without the distraction of physical discomfort.
Because business success, success in any practical pursuit, is a triumph of consciousness. It is a triumph of consciousness in that it is the realization of your conscious ideals through the mastery of your own forces.
Consciousness is the mind of analysis, reason and decision. Consciousness is the mind that controls your active intercourse with the world about you.
Consciousness is more than a mere succession of sensations, feelings, images and desires. Consciousness is purposive, sets a goal and strives to reach it.
Find but the way to determine at will the content of your consciousness, selecting such materials as will aid your purpose, rejecting all that will oppose it, and from that moment you will be able to determine in advance just what your decisions will be under all circumstances, through just what outlet your mental energy shall find release in action. You will be able to marshal your resources, to co-ordinate your powers, to enter the field with new and coordinate energies, and to grasp the full measure of attainment.
For happiness is a mental setting. It is the pleasing emotional state that accompanies the realization of desire.
Now, the realization of desire that produces happiness is not outward physical realization. It is mental realization. There is no joy in the realization of a desire unless you know about it. It is the knowledge, the mental state, that awakens pleasurable emotions. It is the mental image of the thing you want pictured as a present reality that really gives you pleasure. Contrary to the words of the song, "Things are always what they seem."
The world for each one of us is not the sum total of sense-impressions, because most of these are ignored. It is not even the sum total of sense-perceptions, because present sense-perceptions constitute but a small part of the content of consciousness. The world is a play and the mind its only stage. And whether it be tragedy or comedy depends upon what ideas are thrust forward into consciousness to form the cast.
Happiness is thus dependent upon the character of the content of consciousness, dependent upon whether the ideas thrust forth into consciousness from subconsciousness are ideas of grief or joy, depressing or sprightly.
In this course we place within your grasp the magic wand that will enable you to predetermine the content of your own consciousness. With it you may, if you will, without effort and without strain, live a truly efficient life, and reap as you go along its rich reward, a contented spirit.
The question will at once suggest itself, How can the mind in its subconscious activities, the phase of the mind that controls the operation of bodily functions, be itself controlled by the passing momentary consciousness? The answer to this question lies in the nature of the relation between mind and body. In subconsciously directing the conduct of the vital processes, your mind is dealing with your body as part of an organic world. Your body maintains itself upon supplies drawn from the world of matter. It converts that which is nourishing into tissue; it discards the waste. It has to be preserved against such destructive external agencies as tempest, fire and pestilence. The food you eat, the air you breathe, the physical obstacles that you encounter, all directly affect your body and must be taken into account by the subconscious in its management of your bodily mechanism.
But how can the subconscious take these things into account? It has no means of direct communication with the outer world.
And just here lies the answer. Being incapable of direct communication with the outer world the subconscious phases of the mind are dependent upon consciousness for the information necessary to the performance of subconscious bodily functions.
Deliberately determine the make-up of your consciousness, and you can thereby control your bodily activities.
All impressions from the external world must first run the gauntlet of the attention as predetermined by the interests of consciousness. Those that are required for present use or are related to your present purposive life are momentarily active in consciousness. All others without inspection are sidetracked into the subconscious warehouse.
All the special senses, such as sight, touch, hearing, and so on, operate through the cerebro-spinal nervous system, the organ of consciousness, and they are our only sources of information as to the external world.
All the mental energy within the countless living cells of the body is therefore dependent for release upon such messages from without as are sent that way by the selective process of attention.
Now, attention is an element or agent of consciousness. It is the instrument employed by consciousness in the discrimination and emphasis of sense-impressions. Attention is the interpretative medium. Attention lays stress upon some, discards others.
Here, then, we have the crux of the whole matter. Your subconscious control of bodily processes is exercised in accordance with such sensory images as are emphasized by your conscious attention. And the greater the concentration of your attention upon any idea, the more exclusively it is dwelt upon in consciousness, the greater will be its power to influence the subconscious control of your bodily mechanism.
The realization of both material success and a cheerful mental attitude through the conscious control of the attention is possible of accomplishment in much the same way.
We have pointed out that both are dependent upon the content of consciousness. Now, what is it that shapes the content of consciousness from one moment to the next? It is that same selective agency of attention.
Every sense-impression, every idea in consciousness, is linked by association with a multitude of others stored in subconsciousness. It is the attention that singles out one associated idea from among them all for immediate reproduction in consciousness. It is the attention that thus fashions the framework of passing states of consciousness and so establishes the premises from which our mature conclusions are deduced. It is the attention that thus prescribes the mental attitude.
Attention is the basic element in any law of mental control.