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Sources: As A Matter Of Course

AS far as we make circumstances guides and not limitations, they

serve us. Otherwise, we serve them, and suffer accordingly. Just in

proportion, too, to our allowing circumstances to be limits do we

resist them. Such resistance is a nervous strain which disables us

physically, and of course puts us more in the clutches of what

appears to be our misfortune. The moment we begin to regard every

circumstance as an opportun
ty, the tables are turned on Fate, and

we have the upper hand of her.

When we come to think of it, how much common-sense there is in

making the best of every "opportunity," and what a lack of sense in

chafing at that which we choose to call our limitations! The former

way is sure to bring a good result of some sort, be it ever so

small; the latter wears upon our nerves, blinds our mental vision,

and certainly does not cultivate the spirit of freedom in us.

How absurd it would seem if a wounded man were to expose his wound

to unnecessary friction, and then complain that it did not heal! Yet

that is what many of us have done at one time or another, when

prevented by illness from carrying out our plans in life just as we

had arranged. It matters not whether those plans were for ourselves

or for others; chafing and fretting at their interruption is just as

absurd and quite as sure to delay our recovery. "I know," with tears

in our eyes, "I ought not to complain, but it is so hard," To which

common-sense may truly answer: "If it is hard, you want to get well,

don't you? Then why do you not take every means to get well, instead

of indulging first in the very process that will most tend to keep

you ill?" Besides this, there is a dogged resistance which remains

silent, refuses to complain aloud, and yet holds a state of rigidity

that is even worse than the external expression. There are many

individual ways of resisting. Each of us knows his own, and knows,

too, the futility of it; we do not need to multiply examples.

The patients who resist recovery are quite as numerous as those who

keep themselves ill by resisting illness. A person of this sort

seems to be fascinated by his own body and its disorders. So far

from resisting illness, he may be said to be indulging in it He will

talk about himself and his physical state for hours. He will locate

each separate disease in a way to surprise the listener by his

knowledge of his own anatomy. Not infrequently he will preface a

long account of himself by informing you that he has a hearty

detestation of talking about himself, and never could understand why

people wanted to talk of their diseases. Then in minute detail he

will reveal to you his brain-impression of his own case, and look

for sympathetic response. These people might recover a hundred times

over, and they would never know it, so occupied are they in living

their own idea of themselves and in resisting Nature.

When Nature has knocked us down because of disobedience to her laws,

we resist her if we attempt at once to rise, or complain of the

punishment. When the dear lady would hasten our recovery to the best

of her ability, we resist her if we delay progress by dwelling on

the punishment or chafing at its necessity.

Nature always tends towards health. It is to prevent further

ill-health that she allows us to suffer for our disobedience to her

laws. It is to lead us back to health that she is giving the best of

her powers, having dealt the deserved punishment. The truest help we

can give Nature is not to think of our bodies, well or ill, more

than is necessary for their best health.

I knew a woman who was, to all appearances, remarkably well; in

fact, her health was her profession. She was supposed to be a

Priestess of Health. She talked about and dwelt upon the health of

her body until one would have thought there was nothing in the world

worth thinking of but a body. She displayed her fine points in the

way of health, and enjoyed being questioned with regard to them.

This woman was taken ill. She exhibited the same interest, the same

pleasure, in talking over and dwelling upon her various forms of

illness; in fact, more. She counted her diseases. I am not aware

that she ever counted her strong points of health.

This illustration is perhaps clear enough to give a new sense of the

necessity for forgetting our bodies. When ill use every necessary

remedy; do all that is best to bring renewed health. Having made

sure you are doing all you can, forget; don't follow the process.

When, as is often the case, pain or other suffering puts forgetting

out of the question, use no unnecessary resistance, and forget as

soon as the pain is past Don't strengthen the impression by talking

about it or telling it over to no purpose. Better forego a little

sympathy, and forget the pain sooner.

It is with our nerves that we resist when Nature has punished us. It

is nervous strain that we put into a useless attention to and

repetition of the details of our illness. Nature wants all this

nerve-force to get us well the faster; we can save it for her by not

resisting and by a healthy forgetting. By taking an illness as

comfortably as possible, and turning our attention to something

pleasant outside of ourselves, recovery is made more rapidly.

Many illnesses are accompanied by more or less nervous strain, and

its natural control will assist nature and enable medicines to work

more quickly. The slowest process of recovery, and that which most

needs the relief of a wholesome non-resistance, is when the illness

is the result entirely of over-worked nerves. Nature allows herself

to be tried to the utmost before she permits nervous prostration.

She insists upon being paid in full, principal and interest, before

she heals such illness. So severe is she in this case that a patient

may appear in every way physically well and strong weeks, nay,

months, before he really is so. It was the nerves that broke down

last, and the nerves are the last to be restored. It is, however,

wonderful to see how much more rapid and certain recovery is if the

patient will only separate himself from his nervous system, and

refuse all useless strain.

Here are some simple directions which may help nervous patients, if

considered in regular order. They can hardly be read too often if

the man or woman is in for a long siege; and if simply and steadily

obeyed, they will shorten the siege by many days, nay, by many weeks

or months, in some cases.

Remember that Nature tends towards health. All you want is

nourishment, fresh air, exercise, rest, and patience.

All your worries and anxieties now are tired nerves.

When a worry appears, drop it. If it appears again, drop it again.

And so continue to drop it if it appears fifty or a hundred times a

day or more.

If you feel like crying, cry; but know that it is the tired nerves

that are crying, and don't wonder why you are so foolish,--don't

feel ashamed of yourself.

If you cannot sleep, don't care. Get all the rest you can without

sleeping. That will bring sleep when it is ready to come, or you are

ready to have it.

Don't wonder whether you are going to sleep or not. Go to bed to

rest, and let sleep come when it pleases.

Think about everything in Nature. Follow the growing of the trees

and flowers. Remember all the beauties in Nature you have ever seen.

Say Mother-Goose rhymes over and over, trying how many you can


Read bright stories for children, and quiet novels, especially Jane


Sometimes it helps to work on arithmetic.

Keep aloof from emotions.

Think of other people.

Never think of yourself. Bear in mind that nerves always get well in

waves; and if you thought yourself so much better,--almost well,

indeed,--and then have a bad time of suffering, don't wonder why it

is, or what could have brought it on. Know that it is part of the

recovery-process; take it as easily as you can, and then ignore it.

Don't try to do any number of things to get yourself well; don't

change doctors any number of times, or take countless medicines.

Every doctor knows he cannot hurry your recovery, whatever he may

say, and you only retard it by being over-anxious to get strong.

Drop every bit of unnecessary muscular tension.

When you walk, feel your feet heavy, as if your shoes were full of

lead, and think in your feet.

Be as much like a child as possible. Play with children as one of

them, and think with them when you can.

As you begin to recover, find something every day to do for others.

Best let it be in the way of house-work, or gardening, or something

to do with your hands.

Take care of yourself every day as a matter of course, as you would

dress or undress; and be sure that health is coming. Say over and

over to yourself: Nourishment, fresh air, exercise, rest, PATIENCE.

When you are well, and resume your former life, if old associations

recall the unhappy nervous feelings, know that it is only the

associations; pay no attention to the suffering, and work right on.

Only be careful to take life very quietly until you are quite used

to being well again.

An illness that is merely nervous is an immense opportunity, if one

will only realize it as such. It not only makes one more genuinely

appreciative of the best health, and the way to keep it, it opens

the sympathies and gives a feeling for one's fellow-creatures which,

having once found, we cannot prize too highly.

It would seem hard to believe that all must suffer to find a

delicate sympathy; it can hardly be so. To be always strong, and at

the same time full of warm sympathy, is possible, with more thought.

When illness or adverse circumstances bring it, the gate has been

opened for us.

If illness is taken as an opportunity to better health, not to more

illness, our mental attitude will put complaint out of the question;

and as the practice spreads it will as surely decrease the tendency

to illness in others as it will shorten its duration in ourselves.