What Is Vital Power?
( Originally Published 1904 )
"That amount of vital capacity which shall enable each man in his place to pursue his calling, and work on in his working life, with the greatest amount of comfort to himself and usefulness to his fellow-men."— Archibald Maclaren.
What is vital power? It would certainly seem that Maclaren, Oxford's great physical trainer, has given us a better definition than that offered by the dictionary makers, who assure us, merely, that vitality is "the power of continued endurance."
But vital power is more than the capacity to pursue your work with comfort! It is more than the power of endurance! It is, as has been said, life itself! It is the force that is hidden latent in the seed of everything that is created. It builds the beautiful human structure, cell by cell, within the womb of the mother. It is the power that makes us attain a certain stature. Without it we cannot be safe-guarded against disease. With an abundance of it we can defy contagion.
The lack of vital power is easily discerned. If you are frightened somewhat, does your heart begin to beat. furiously and suffocatingly? If you run, are you distressed for lack of breath? Is your. digestive apparatus easily disarranged? Do your kidneys or liver give you trouble? Are you subject to severe headaches? Do you lack strength and endurance? Does an ordinary day's toil fatigue you? Does even a little addition to your usual amount of labor leave you exhausted? If so, you may rest assured that you are lacking in vital power.
It is he who is able to retire at night and sleep soundly, who awakes refreshed in the morning; who leaves his home for his business feeling strong and contented, and able to do and dare; who goes blithely and easily through the day's work; who finds rest, not fatigue in an evening's recreation; who can stand an extra strain upon his physical resources when that strain comes; who enjoys life and does not find time for moping or for dreading; who always feels as if he could cheerfully undertake to do far more than the task that faces him; who hardly realizes the meaning of illness, and who believes that health is largely a result of will power; who enjoys every waking moment of life and who feels that his career does not give full scope to his energies—THIS IS HE WHO POSSESSES VITAL POWER!
And you, my friend, can have this power! If you are devitalized, sapped of your strength, shrinking from effort, or even weakly dodging it; if you are timid and miserable, inclined to morbid thoughts; if you wonder why you were placed in this life, anyway, and speculate gloomily on the "good of living"; if you are unable to sustain continued effort, and look enviously around you at those who appear to possess abounding health—THERE IS A WAY OF CHANGING YOUR UNHAPPY CONDITION FOR THE BETTER AS SURELY AS THERE IS A SUN IN THE HEAVENS!
Health is the rightful heritage of every human being. Vital force—stamina—is possessed today by but a comparatively small percentage of the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Yet we come of the ruggedest, boldest, brainiest ancestry that the world has seen.
Why is it, then, that the most of us to-day are either ailing downright, or, at the best, lack our full measure of normal vital power? We must, in the main, blame the current conditions of life. For our ancestors were strong, virile and conquering because they lived close to Nature and so absorbed her inexhaustible vitality. But we are losing our inherited vitality, slowly perhaps, but none the less surely.
Now what is to stay departing vigor or, if we have lost some portion of it, to induce its return to normal proportions? The query is readily answered. All that we have to do is to revert to the methods of our rugged forefathers, adopting the praiseworthy features thereof and putting aside those that we know are useless or unwise. In other words, we must hark -back to Nature, our path to her being lit by the rays of old time experience and modern knowledge.
By many, Physical Culture, as the term is under-stood to-day, is looked upon as a new science. It can make no claim to being such. PHYSICAL CULTURE IS MERELY THE RECOGNITION OF THOSE BASIC TRUTHS CONCERNING THE LAWS OF HEALTH THAT ONCE WERE FOLLOWED AS A MATTER OF COURSE. Increasing knowledge has enabled us to add much to what our ancestors discovered in regard to the natural laws of health. And the observance of every one of these laws, both the old and the new, leads to the attaining of normal vital power.
Drugs contain no elements of vital power. So-called "medical science" began to allegedly discover new "remedies" and "tonics," and to devise new and often unnecessary surgical operations within the past century. But how much has the race benefited through these discoveries? There is a distinct advance in vitality—and so great an advance as to seem miraculous—amonga small percentage of our people it is true. Yet these who have so advanced are those who have learned to follow the laws of true physical culture. The dupes of medicine are still degenera- - ting physically.
In these pages I shall treat wholly of the subject of increasing vitality until the full, normal amount has been obtained. No space is to be given to theory; all that is to be stated is the exposition of what is now recognized natural law. The secret of vitality is such a simple one that he who wishes this great blessing with longing enough to make him seek it, can readily possess it.
THERE ARE NO FAILURES FOR THOSE WHO START IN TIME, AND WHO MOVE STEADILY ONWARD IN THE QUEST FOR VITAL POWER!