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Training Of The Will, Continued: A Study Of Moods

( Originally Published 1907 )

THE man who is perpetually hesitating which of two things he will do first will do neither. The man who resolves, but suffers his resolution to be changed by the first counter suggestion of a friend who fluctuates from opinion to opinion, from plan to plan, and veers like a weather-cock to every point of the compass, with every breath of caprice that blows — can never accomplish anything real or useful. It is only the man who carries into his pursuits that great quality which Lucan ascribes to Caesar, nescia virtus stare loco; first consults wisely, then resolves firmly, and then executes his purpose with inflexible perseverance, undismayed by those petty difficulties which daunt a weaker spirit that can advance to eminence in any line."— William Wirt.

Man's conscious life is largely a matter of mood: of mind, heart, soul, spirit a temporary muse inspiring the individual to be or to do in certain ways. A mood is a disposition or humor, a morbid condition of mind, a heat of anger, a kind of zeal, a capricious state of feeling.

" The weaker emotive states," says Titchener in " An Outline of Psychology," " which persist for some time together, are termed moods; the stronger, which exhaust the organism in a omparatively short time, are called passions. Thus the mood of cheerfulness represents the emotion of joy; the mood of depression that of sorrow. Like and dislike have the moods of content and discontent; sympathy and antipathy, those of kindliness and sulkiness; attraction and repulsion, those of 'charm' and tedium. The mood of care is anxiety; the mood of melancholy, gloom. The mood of hatred is `not getting on with' a person; the mood of exasperation is chagrin."

The above are merely examples of a very familiar subject. Many of our moods are good and indispensable to our best work, as, the mood of labor, the mood for creation, the mood of hopefulness, the mood of mastery, and so on. Every evil mood may be banished from mind and life. The method is simply that of persistent determination to conquer and build up only such moods as stand for personal welfare. Your undesirable moods will vanish if you multiply yourself faithfully into the pages of this book. The end requires work, to be sure, but, as Orison Swett Marden remarks in " Every Man a King," " Training under pressure is the finest discipline in the world. You know what is right and what you ought to do, even when you do not feel like doing it. This is the time to get a firm grip on yourself, to hold yourself steadily to your task, no matter how hard or disagree-able it may be. Keep up this rigid discipline day after day and week after week, and you will soon learn the art of arts perfect self mastery."


Moods are, therefore — First, special states of mental person in general; secondly, states of reference to the action of the Will. Their influence never ceases during consciousness. As the individual is servant or master of his moods, he is servant or master of himself. The sum-total of moods exhibits the conscious and the sub-conscious man. Moods manifest in the objective man, but they originate, in part at least, in that deeper self of which so little is directly known -- the sub-conscious.

No error is greater than that theory which makes mind the product of matter. The theory is a " fad " and will soon pass away. An equal error is seen in the notion that the man's self is an entity absolutely separate as an existence from the body. The man is spirit bound up in body; both entities are real, but exist and manifest the one through the other. What the connection is between body and spirit is a fathom-less mystery; but that connection stands for the mutual dependence of the physical and the immaterial in man. There is as much evidence of the reality of the immaterial inner ego as of the existence of an objective universe. And the demonstration of the physical man as an actual entity is just as sure as the demonstration of the inner ego. All evidences go to show mutual dependence, both for existence and for manifestation, of body and spirit.

These evidences cover — the influence of mind over body; the influence of body over mind (over mind directly and over mind through bodily states) —the mind affecting itself intermediately by means of its influence upon the body. It is with the power of mind on the body and itself that the present chapter deals.

Let it be understood, this book has nothing to do directly with any so-called " science of healing," whether " Christian " or " Mental, except as immediately following.

All genuine cases of healing by these so-called methods are results of " suggestion," either by self or by others by means of a great law as yet little understood.

"There are but two really distinct fundamental phases which the doctrine of metaphysical healing has assumed, and to one or the other of these the varying special claims belong. The first is the pure meta-physical idealism upon which the original 'Christian Science' is based the nonreality of the material world and sense-experience, and so of disease. The second is the doctrine of what is properly called ` Mental Science,' which does not ignore the reality of the physical world nor of the body and its sensations in their normal relations to that world, but is based upon the recognition of the absolute supremacy of the mind over them."

Supposing it denies the material world, sense-experience, disease, and evil or sin. Herein are its errors manifest. To deny, yet seek to cure, disease, to deny, yet seek to eliminate sin, disorganizes a normal dealing with life. To will that that which one believes or strives to believe does not exist shall be one thing or another as to its states, is to dethrone the normal Will. The Will volitionates only toward that which is believed to exist, never toward that which is believed to be non-existent. The fact that body yields to suggestion in genuine cases of healing, may not show that body exists, but it does show that one believes it exists. The belief that one believes it does not exist is pure delusion. It is impossible to will to change any physical condition which is really believed to be non-existent. It is equally impossible to will to eliminate sin which is believed to be non-existent and to take on holiness the absence, for one thing, of that which is believed to have no existence, and the possession of those moral qualities, for a second thing, which signify the shunning of that which is believed to have no existence. In all this we have the willed influence of mental states over body which is denied and over mental states that are believed to be without actuality. In other words, the Will, a power given to man to guide him through realities, not fictitious imaginations fully understood to be non-existent as facts, is here dethroned as a normal faculty.

What is called " Mental Science " asserts the reality of matter, body, spirit, disease and sin, but bases its theories upon the power of " mind over matter." Its error consists in constructing a " science " on partial data and on laws which are but imperfectly understood, and in asserting the " absolute supremacy " of " mind over body." The Will is here set toward a claim which cannot be substantiated — the " absolute supremacy " of "mind over body "; which, indeed, is disproved, unless a multitude of facts in life are to be willed out of the field of belief. It is no province of Will to will a disbelief in plain facts. There are in-numerable instances which show that the " supremacy of mind over body " is not absolute. Moreover, the Will here sets itself to the task of ignoring what are at least intermediate agencies for assisting person to control bodily conditions. It may be that the supposed necessity for food is a delusion, but the normal person at least employs the eating of food as an intermediate means for exerting its influence over the physical organism. Medical Science may be no true science — as yet — all and all — but its treatments certainly assist, if in no other way, in establishing right mental conditions for the action of self over the body. Of course the necessity for foods is real. A genuine medicine is, in a large sense, a food " whatever sustains, augments, or supplies nourishment to organic bodies." Some foods and some medicines are false, in themselves, or in particular applications. It remains for the normal person to select right foods and to use right medicines as parts of the present system of things, with the influence of mental states sought and cultivated as being originated and maintained intermediately through the employment of that which is real in itself and real in its power over belief. Medical Science needs to become less empirical and materialistic, and " Mental Science " needs to enlarge its field by recognition of facts and the medicinal utility of nature. We now return to the discussion of moods.



First General Division of Moods. Special mental states of mind in general which exert various influences over the body.

" A process set up anywhere in the centres reverberates everywhere, and in some way or other affects the organism throughout, making its activities either greater or lesser."

Sorrow increases the flow of tears. Anxiety may induce perspiration or the opposite. Intense nervous anxiety or fear in a public speaker sometimes almost totally stops the flow of saliva. It is now disclosed that great anger poisons the blood. Any great emotion may increase or retard the circulation. Exaltation of feeling or thought frequently brings about in-sensibility to pain. Great mental depression makes latent disorders patent. A surgical operation causes some spectators to faint, and a noisome object may bring on vomiting. By fixing the attention upon certain parts of the body the blood may be directed to those parts. Muscular energy is increased by violent emotions, and is sometimes vastly diminished, and is always made greater by an exertion of the Will. The fury of the madman is accompanied by superhuman strength. Ideas frequently induce actual physical sensations, as nausea at the thought of disgusting food, or the setting of the teeth " on edge " at the thought of saw-filing. Worry cultivates dyspepsia. Incessant mental activity robs the body of assimilated nourishment. Disease may be incurred through conditions of mind, and is often warded off by the same agency. Cheerfulness and hope tend to tone up the entire system.

Similarly with the influence of states of person over mental activities. Fear quickens some intellects, but dulls others. Many persons can accomplish large things only under great excitement, while with others excitement paralyzes the powers. Hate blinds all mental faculties not immediately engaged in its gratification, but quickens the latter. Musicians, public speakers and exhibitors are greatly influenced by the psychic atmosphere about them. Interest always in-creases the perceptive powers. The mind's ability to recall past scenes, events and knowledge is increased by a clear brain and a healthy tone acted upon by some pleasing emotion. The imagination is sometimes obscured or confused by disease, sometimes made more powerful by the same, and is always rendered vigorous and facile by exalted trains of thought. The logical faculties are swayed by the passions, and dulled or sharpened as the mind seems sluggish or keen in other respects. Consciousness of right or wrong often depends upon the mental tone of the individual.

Such illustrations disclose the value to life in general of an intelligent understanding of psychic states. And among the mind's powers the Will is no exception to the sway of its various moods. These considerations make clear the


Second Division of Moods. Mental states having direct reference to the act of willing.

The Will has its own moods, by which its functions may be analyzed, and by which it may and ought to be cultivated and made to regulate itself in the highest manner. These volitional moods are of importance because they are creative states and may be maintained, thus exercising the Will and becoming permanent factors in the conduct of life. They indicate person's attitude toward the act of willing, and so reveal, now the individual nature, now the individual character. Brought into definite and abiding thought, they will always assist in cultivating both the Will's power and its stability. It is the function of Will to regulate them. Hence, no better means of cultivating and training the Will itself can be devised than the deliberate and intelligent control of volitional moods. For if the will can control such peculiar mental states, a determination to do so must increase power of Will and direct it into its legitimate activities.

Resolve to acquire that permanent mood of mind which views yourself at your best. Constantly flood your arena of action with new interests and freshness of spirit which enables you to "live life to the limit."


The Moods of Will may now be enumerated as follows:


The Mood of Feeling, or Interest. Feeling may be defined as any pleasurable or painful condition of the person in mind or body. The steps from such condition to Volition are four : a mental impression or object of attention brought to mind; a feeling with regard to the same; a mode of mental action, or attention ; and the Volition. The degree of attention some-times depends upon the Will, but more frequently upon interest in the object or impression. Interest is of two sorts, spontaneous and willed. Spontaneous interest is indifferent to the quality of the feeling involved— whether pleasurable or painful; a toothache receives spontaneous interest as truly as a good dinner. But willed interest, or acquired attention, always in-volves the idea of personal pleasure, at least the gratification of some desire.

The Mood of Feeling or Interest may be cultivated. One ultimate purpose for doing so, providing constant gratification, will be the intelligent increase of the Mood itself, and through that increase, of the mind's steadfast power of Will. In all large living this Mood of Interest is ever present and powerful. If it is suffered to collapse here and there, a loss of Will is sure to follow. The sum-total of the Will's activities de-pends upon the sum-total of its acquired interests. Hence spontaneous interest should be utilized for the maintenance of acquired, and above all should be made over into good habits of living.

As a guiding rule for the acquirement of such artificial interest and the keeping alive of feeling with " go" in it, a principle of Prof. William James may be followed :

"Any object not interesting in itself may become interesting through becoming associated with an object in which interest already exists. The two associated objects grow, as it were, together; the interesting portion sheds its quality over the whole; and thus things not interesting in their own right borrow an interest which becomes as real and as strong as that of any natively interesting thing."

If such a principle is practically and persistently carried out, the effort will invariably cultivate great volitional power.


The Mood of Energy. This is a general forceful and determined state of mind. It is the Mood which carries things on. It may act swiftly or slowly, de-pending upon other characteristics. The energetic man may be swift in action as compared to the bulk of his mind, while slow as compared to men of lighter calibre. Energy may exhibit on the surface of action, or it may hide behind an unmoved exterior ; it may be violent in its manifestations, or as calm as a resistless ice-berg. Whatever its characteristics, it is of vastest importance. To maintain it may draw heavily on the Will, but its continued possession and control furnish among the surest means of cultivating and training the Will's power and stability. For further study of this subject reference may be had to the author's work, Power for Success. Learn to summons, on occasion, the feeling of being alive, alert, energy-charged.


The Mood of Permission. The Will, in this Mood, having originated certain actions of the body or in the mind, simply permits the movements involved to " go on of themselves," as it were, without interference, except to modify or prohibit, at intervals, and as occasion may require. Examples of such permissive action of the Will may be seen in walking, carried on automatically so far as conscious effort is concerned, while the mind is engaged in thought ; in reading while conversation is in progress in the vicinity; in musical performance while the player converses with others.

In all such cases it is probable that the " under-ground mind" involves consciousness of the various activities, but that the objective mind remains a sort of passive spectator or ruler who does not interpose his power.

The Mood of Permission is also seen when the conscious Will refrains from interfering with a state, an action, or a line of conduct. Thus the Will permits various mental or bodily conditions, as reverie or rest, or an act or series of acts to continue, or a habit to re-main undisturbed, or a course in life to proceed — the mind in all cases being conscious of its own or bodily activities, and that it may at any moment exert the Will in a contrary direction.

This mood should be cultivated, yet always with reference to the formation of good habits and the growth of Will. It is especially valuable in permitting rest both of body and of mind for the sake of psychic tone. But it must be wisely exercised, for otherwise it will drop to the line of indolence, and thus destroy rather than build up power of Will.


The Mood of Decision. This Mood involves the Mood of Energy. It signifies promptness with more or less of force. It is instant in its action, having thus fulfilled its function. Nevertheless, it is a Mood to be cultivated and continually possessed, as the emergencies of life make incessant demands upon its exercise in the Will.

" The irresolute man is lifted from one place to another; so hatcheth nothing, but addles all his actions."

"For indecision brings its own delays,

And days are lost lamenting o'er lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute. What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Only engage, and then the mind grows heated — Begin, and then the work will be completed."

Every effort to maintain the decisive state of mind acts directly on the Will. A determined resolution to decide intelligently and forcefully all questions of life as they may present themselves — rather than suffer them to hang for something "to turn up " -- will be found to be a perfect Will-tonic.


The Mood of Continuity. This Mood involves energy and decision. It is, as it were, a chain of decisions the Mood of Decision perpetuated. In evil, it is a man's ruin; in right conduct, one of the methods of success. It is a creator of interest, and a prime source of voluntary habits.

" Habit is a second nature as regards its importance in adult life; for the acquired habits of our training have by that time inhibited or strangled most of the natural impulsive tendencies which were originally there. Ninety-nine hundredths or, possibly, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths, of our activity is purely automatic and habitual, from our rising in the morning to our lying down each night." Hence the supreme importance of forming habits of action which are rational and make for the mind's education.

"A capricious man is not one man merely ; he is several at once; he multiplies himself as often as he has new tastes and different behavior."

"Success prompts to exertion, and habit facilitates success."

" Habit also gives promptness ; and the soul of des-patch is decision."


The Mood of Understanding. In this Mood the person wills to attend intelligently to the thing in hand. He concentrates in order to know. He insists upon knowing that to which he attends. This Mood usually results in decision and continuity — but not always, for Reason may dictate inactivity, and the man may re-fuse to follow his moral convictions. But the Mood of Understanding is imperative in an intelligent exercise of power of Will. It often prohibits action. It provides the ground for rational endeavors. It is the check of rashness. It is the inspiration of some of the most resistless exhibitions of Will-energy known. When Grant was ready, he swept on to victory. Great commercial enterprises are all born of . this Mood. It is the very genius of Science. Faraday, about to witness an experiment, said, " Wait; what am I to expect?" That was the mood of understanding. A determination to cultivate this mood, and to have it present in all deliberations, will obviate innumerable mistakes in life, and infallibly develop great power and wisdom in the exercise of the Will.

"Nine men out of every ten," says Professor William Matthews, " lay out their plans on too vast a scale; and they who are competent to do almost any-thing, do nothing, because they never make up their minds distinctly as to what they want, or what they intend to be."


The Mood of Reason. In this Mood the person employs the preceding, but goes on to ascertain definite reasons for one action in preference to another. One may understand a subject, a motive, or the alternatives of conduct, yet be at a loss for the right decision. The Mood of Reason asks, Why this action or that? It holds the Will back until satisfactory answers are given. Undoubtedly it is a Mood which may be over-cultivated, and there are occasions when the inability to discover determining reasons for action or cessation of action must furnish the sole reason for decision, as wrong action may be better than a perpetual dead-lock of the Will. Nevertheless, the Mood of Reason stands with that of Righteousness in its importance to the conduct of life. Its development and perennial judgment in the court of mind are scientific guaranties of a strong and intelligent Will.

Count Von Moltke," writes Orison Swett Marden, " the great German strategist and general, chose for his motto, Erst wagen, dann wagen, ' First weigh, then venture,' and it is to this he owed his great victories. He was slow, cautious, careful in planning, but bold, daring, even seemingly reckless in execution the moment his resolve was made."


The Mood of Righteousness. In this Mood person is bent on ascertaining the moral quality of actions. It is the loftiest of Moods having reference to Will. It has developed some of the greatest Wills of the ages. It clears the mind, uncovers all motives, illumines the judgment, inspires resolution, induces perseverance, arouses the understanding and guides the reason. By nothing is the Will so easily disorganized as by the opposite Mood that of Evil. The Mood of Righteousness governs the universe that is its superiority and exhibits the strength of an Almighty Will. He who nourishes and holds to the fore this Mood is infallibly sure of a good Will ; — which may err in directions really unimportant, but cannot err in the direction of an ultimate power of Will that guarantees success against all the assaults of evil forever.

Let us now observe : Many people exhibit the Moods of Feeling, Energy, and Decision.

A less number possess adequately the Moods of Understanding and Reason.

Few there are, seemingly, who show the Mood of intelligent Continuity in life.

Fewer still manifest the Mood of Righteousness as a permanent factor of conduct.

The Will, then, may be graded according as it discloses these Moods. The perfect Will exhibits them in symmetrical combination: the Mood of Right Feeling merging into the Mood of Energy, prompt to act, but pausing for Understanding, guided by Reason and con-trolled by Righteousness. When all these Moods obtain, there is the perfect static Will capable of enormous dynamic energy for any length of time and working towards the noblest ends in life.

At this point appears a


Intelligent cultivation of the Will involves exercises dealing with every department of human nature:

First. Will-bent practice of the perceptive powers -- exercise of feeling and knowing for growth of Will.

Second. Exercise calling the imagination into play with the idea of strengthening and training the Will by deliberate activity and by clean consideration of motives and consequences.

Third. Practice in memory, as a mind-improver and as a Will-grower; and also for the purpose of rendering experience more vivid, and, hence, a more forceful teacher.

Fourth. Practice in reasoning, for the cultivation of the whole mind, and in order to develop the habit of acting according to definite reasons, together with the elimination of impulse and thoughtless decisions.

Fifth. Exercise in self-perception and self-control, in the eradication of injurious tendencies and habits and immoral acts and conduct, in order that all Moods of the Will may be brought to the fore in a life mastered by righteousness. For here only is the perfect Will.

Sixth. The persistent state of resolution for Will. This means the preservation always, and under all circumstances of the attitude — I WILL TO WILL.

He who would acquire the perfect Will must carry into all his thoughts and actions the resolute assertion : I RESOLVE TO WILL! This resolution, borne out in persistent practice, has never been known to fail.

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