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The Mirth Cure

( Originally Published 1916 )

THERE are all manner of cures, from mud baths and Perkins's Patent Porous Plaster up to Thought Vibrations, but the grandest of all is the Mirth Cure.

It keeps well in any climate, is guaranteed under the pure food and drug law, doesn't cost a cent, and has helped others. Why not you?

The formula is found in the writings of the wisest man, who was a Jewish king and philosopher. He said:

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

Note—he did not say a merry wife, though she certainly does good. (Perhaps he had too many wives and was afraid he would be asked which one.)

He did not say a merry husband, though he helps some.

Nor did he say merry children, nor a merry house, nor a merry occupation, nor any such thing.

For his wise old eyes saw too deeply into life to make the mistake of supposing that circumstances are the root of joy. He knew that the real fountain of mirth is the heart.

If you have a merry heart it makes no difference what may be your position, whether you be a tramp on the road, a scrubwoman in an office building, a brakeman, a street car conductor, a merchant man, or even a college president. You are an electric light in the fog of human despondency, sunshine breaking through earth-sorrow clouds, water to parched souls.

Did you ever hear the story of "The Happy Man's Shirt?" It is an old one, but one of those that ought constantly be retold.

There was once a king who was smitten with sadness and disgust of life. He had gorged at all human pleasures, could no more be amused, and now was like to die.

They called in the soothsayers and medicine men, but none could suggest a remedy. At last they sent to an old hermit who lived in the wood, who said: "The case is simple. Let the king sleep all night in a happy man's shirt, and he will be healed."

Whereupon the king ordered that the palace be searched, a happy man be found and his shirt brought. But no happy man could be discovered in the palace.

Then they sought through the city and then throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom, but no man could they lay hands upon who would declare, without reservation or secret evasion of mind whatever, that he was entirely happy.

A little group of the king's courtiers were returning home disconsolate, and as they rode along the highway they espied a beggar sitting under a tree, playing with the autumn leaves and smiling to himself.

"Hola !" they shouted. "Are you happy?" "Surely!" replied the beggarman.

"Why, you're nothing but a beggar ! You don't know where you are going to get your dinner, do you?"

"Oh, no. But it isn't dinner time yet. I had a good breakfast."

Then they told him of the king's plight and besought him to give them his shirt forthwith, adding that it should be returned to him filled with gold pieces.

At that the ragged man lay back on the grass and laughed as if he would expire.

"Come," said the royal attendants, "we have no time for trifling. Off with your shirt, or we will jerk it off."

"Hold hard, gentlemen," said the beggar, striving to control his mirth. "That is just what I am laughing at. I AIN'T GOT NO SHIRT!"

So they went and told the king that but one happy man could be unearthed in all his realm, and that one was shirtless.

And the king had sense enough to perceive that happiness does not depend on the shirt you sleep in, nor the bed on which you lie, nor the house that covers you—no, nor any external thing, but comes from the heart within you.

Thus was he cured, and arose and went about his business; and thus also may you be cured, if so be that there is still left unparalyzed in you the power to THINK.

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