Work while you work and play while you play; That is the way to be happy and gay.
- My Old School Reader.
Too many irons in the fire.
Jack of all trades and master of none.
- Old Proverbs.
Laurel crowns cleave to deserts And power to him who power exerts. Hast not thy share? On winged feet Lo, it flyeth thee to meet!
While happiness is to be desired and is the source of health and power, being the subjective side, the cause side of these, it is often confused with mere excitement, - especially the excitement of change, - or of stimulant, and also with mere pleasure. Pleasure arises in the sensations of the physical body and while it is to be encouraged as a means and as such becomes a source of power, whenever sought as an end it is diffusive of power, destructive of happiness, through the reactions that follow, and thus productive of failure in line of health and a successful life. Rational pleasures are to be sought temperately. With Self-Control they are healthful. Intemperate use is diffusion, weakness. All emotions not controlled - all intemperance in any form, - is the opposite of that concentration, which is the "Road to Success." It is the concentration of mere physical enjoyment, and since all power is Mind, (or Spirit) and not body, to concentrate upon the physical in any form, is to close, to a greater or less degree, the channels of inspiration of Spirit, which is life. The physical is the animal side of Man. And until he attains mastery over the flesh, it is as natural to concentrate upon physical enjoyment as do the lambs and colts. This is the exuberance of animal life.
Man can keep this exuberance down to what is termed old age will he be temperate, and the word means - Self Controlled. Under right thought, all this animal spirit is curbed, and reined, and guided by the Master - Soul. Through this mastery it is possible to avoid disease, unhappiness, poverty and even physical death by ripening out of physical conditions through some form of de-materialization.
It is not because there is anything inherently wrong in this, that I refer to the fads, follies, fashions and social excitements. Only so far as they are indulged in to kill time; are taken up because they are in the air; indulged in to emulate or to vie with others; enjoyed with no serious purpose; and allowed to absorb time, attention and labor that, would we win Success, - would lead to Success. I am writing only for those who are willing to purchase success.
"Laurel crowns cleave to deserts" and no one ever won the crowning success who did not buy it with a price.
And no one wins social distinction, or place in the fashionable, political, or athletic world, who did not pay for it by losing success in other fields.
"In the devil's booth all things are sold, Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold."
"It is natural to concentrate upon pleasure," it is said, and also: - "It is natural to concentrate under excitement!" Yes: but is it well? Has not man a higher motive? Anger, jealousy, envy, hatred, avarice and kindred passions are concentrative and belong naturally to man; but unfolding man leaves these behind and finds happiness, power, prosperity in concentrating upon their opposites.
It is because, all forms of concentration that have not behind them noble ideals, are diffusive of power and weakening to character; because they are a form of intemperance; because they are manifestations of a lack of self-control, of self-sufficiency, that, for those who have a desire to nobly win, I mention them here. Society has much "busy idleness." The ladies crochet, make crazy quilts, take up china painting and kindred fads to "kill time." Not with any serious purpose, but because they don't know what else to do, or seek them to show their productions for the approval or envy of neighbors. There is much dissipation in what is termed "Art." "Art is man added to Nature," but there seems to be no purpose "to add" in much that today passes by that name. The test? Only a few years and all these productions are relegated to the lumber room. The productions of real Art, live. True, some unfoldment comes to those who really enjoy; who really love the work; who truly have a real desire; but when it is done only because others are painting; because "I must do something" it is a diffusion of power and an element of weakness.
To follow this course is to take the road to failure. Concentration upon any occupation means success in it. Have a purpose in what you do and work with a will.
Whatever is done to kill time; to help one forget one's self, because it is the fad, or because society demands it, is weakness. "Conformity is weakness/' says Emerson.
Companionship, social intercourse, exchange of affectionate and love expressions are sources of power. Man is a social being and needs to mingle with his kind, but what are known as "social functions" are diffusive and interfere with Success, as determined in "Introduction." What is termed "society" is dissipation; a loss of opportunity and power and leads to ill health and failure. Many who feel compelled to live lives in conformity to social demands have said to me, both men and women, "Society is hell!" Physicians tell me so and the records of sanitariums and homes echo, - "Hell!" Why? Because it is the opposite of Peace - Rest - Happiness - Health.
Concentration upon pleasure for its own sake, kills. Games are right and necessary in their place. They are means of relaxing; a means of rest from our over strenuous life. But the tendency is to carry the same strenuousness into the game, and instead of enjoying the game, enjoy the winning. And there is no more nerve wearing and diffusive means than gambling in any form, be it at stock board, roulette table or at any thing where there is striving to win. Let me tell you something: - when you become so interested in winning as to lose the enjoyment of each step of the game - stop! I will not play a second game with any one who "crows" over his winnings, or who feels bad over his failures. And I would prefer he would, like myself, forget to name who won the evening before. To play in any other thought than that of enjoyment of expression at the time, is not to make the game restful, but only to change the kind of excitement. To change from concentration of business to concentration in winnings is not to change the principle, is not rest.
The same is true of athletic contests. The motive determines the benefit. Herbert Spencer loved to relax at billiards. A young man once played with him who showed great skill and declared that he was champion at the game. - "I am sorry to hear it," said the philosopher. Time, skill, effort and life wasted for that which represented no power, no real success.
President Livermore said to us at Meadville: "Young men, you cannot devote yourselves to society and at the same time attend to your studies!"
"Choose this day whom you will serve," says nature. You cannot have success on a high ideal plane and at the same time in a lower one. Cannot win in business, art, politics, literature, or any chosen field, and dissipate your time, thought and power in other fields. Concentrate upon some chosen ones and use all others as a means of relaxation and rest.
"Too many irons in the fire!" is the old proverb. Have one purpose. Concentrate and stick, is the soul of success.
I recently heard a young man in conversation with a young lady say - "No, I had to give up night school; I had too much to do!" and a few moments later I overheard him say: "I was at the theatre a few evenings ago, and with skating rink and theatre I shall be out every night this week." The probabilities are that in a few years he will complain of his "luck," because others get promoted over him. He had concentrated upon pleasure, the sensations of the physical man. Gossip, the daily papers, latest novel, the new dance, and other trifles occupy too much time for health and success. I have listened to conversations between men on some political trifle and between women on some society gossip for over fifteen minutes that was not worth a passing thought. This loss of life means loss of health and success.
Yet these people will tell me they cannot concentrate. True they have not learned the law of mastery - concentration at will, - but they naturally concentrate upon the thought that comes under present desire, or habit. What shall these do? Follow the advice given in Matthew: - "Repent," - for the kingdom of God is at hand!" Repent; - turn about; - do the opposite. Think the opposite. "At hand." Yes, reach forth and take it. It is waiting for you - is the realization of your Ideal of happiness and success.