The Practice Of Greatness By Words
( Originally Published 1916 )
You take exercises for the muscles of your arms, legs, and back; why not take an exercise occasionally for your soul?
Your spirit, or ego, or self, or whatever you may call that inner invisible something that is more really you than your body; that something which thinks, loves, feels, imagines, and wills is well worth a little training.
Here is a suggestion. There are certain great ideas, represented by certain great words. These words have power-volts in their very sound. Every time you think one of them you grow greater.
Take to bed with you the following seven words. As you lie, waiting for sleep, say them over, one by one, to yourself.
Or, better, take a half hour during the day, in silence and solitude, and practise the feeling of these terms.
GOD. Never mind about your belief or disbelief. Say that word ten times, slowly, with pauses between. Think of what is above, below, around, and in all things. Spread your mind out upon the universe. Practise the sensing of the infinite.
STARS. Say Stars. Think Stars. Try to reach the feeling of stars. Let your fancy climb to the top of the night sky. Get the vibrations of those measureless distances, those suns, galaxies, sweeping worlds; all silent, luminous, immense, swift whirling yet orderly. Happy you if you can induce a bit of star feeling within you!
MOUNTAIN. Repeat some names of individuals; Mont Blanc, Himalaya, Orizaba, Matterhorn, Popocatepetl. Get your mind up among the noiseless heights. Let the serenity, the eternity of the words filter into you.
OCEAN. Go a-sailing, out of sight of land. Be surrounded for a moment by waste, wild waters. See on all sides only horizon. Stand, in your imagination, by the seashore. Hear the surf boom. Do not talk. Do not make phrases. Feel !
TREE. Call to mind the most majestic tree you know. Touch its rough trunk. Look up at its wide branches. Stand from it and see its outline against the sky. Get some of the Tree feeling into your spirit. Think Trees; it's a wonderful relief from thinking dishes and dust-rags.
DAWN. Think of sunrise, of the freshness of life, of hopeful beginnings. Induce, if you can, a sense of sunrise.
MORE. It is a sonorous word. Repeat it slowly, significantly, and note how you grow. The word lifts you up, expands you.
Don't try to argue. Just say these seven words.
Let them boom across your consciousness. Somehow they will still and banish your littleness. You will corne to a great calm. You will have a sense of poise. You will get a sense of remoteness from affairs. You cannot describe it, nor impart it. It is a secret.
Your self-contempt will vanish. You will cease to think yourself a nothing, a puppet, insignificant.
You will feel that you are, deep in your hidden life, great and strong and wonderful. For who can think such thoughts and be wholly little and contemptible?