Why have so few discovered the "keys" to personal happiness and peace. This article reveals the VITAL knowledge that is desperately needed by millions of people suffering from the tensions and frustrations of this modern world!
THE dog is out, Jane! Why didn't you shut that gate?" "You were the one who left the gate open, John. You never shut it when you come in from work!" "Jane! I don't like the tone of your voice!" "Well, it's the truth and you know it, John!" "Oh, SHUT UP, and get the kids out looking for that dog! You're so hard-headed you never admit ANYTHING you do wrong!"
Typical Family Scene
Ever hear any talk like that? Of course you have. For that kind of arguing, bickering, accusing and squabbling is par for the course in millions of modern homes. These millions of husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters constantly keep each other stirred up, frustrated and emotionally off balance. They may not always be "mad" at each other. But they are upset, competitive and belligerent nonetheless. Many a young couple has nearly everything going for them. They have a beautiful home, lots of food and clothes, nice car, TV, the works. But they are wretched. They are miserably unhappy much of the time because of their constant fussing, fighting and turmoil. Why? They have not learned to guide and RULE their mind and emotions in the proper way! They haven't learned to emphasize the positive and creatively build happiness into their lives.
What Modern Science Has Found — and What the Bible REVEALS
In the last few decades, modern science has found increasing evidence that the vast majority of our physical aches, pains and illnesses are either caused entirely — or are heavily contributed to — by our upset human emotions! During recent years, medical scientists have come to realize that wrong emotions can produce the symptoms of literally dozens of different bodily ills. Common complaints such as gas pains, dizziness, headaches, constipation, pain in the back of the neck, ulcer-like pain, gallbladder-like pain, and tiredness are all included. Many intelligent people assume they are immune to emotionally induced illness. But as you go up the ladder of human responsibility, mental alertness and capacity, the more emotional problems you will find. For the alert mind can think of ten things to be worried or concerned about in the time a slower mind can think of only one! The person with greater capacity usually takes on greater responsibilities — which means, usually, more tense emotions. So we have far more heartburn, heart attacks and ulcers, for instance, among top executives than among day laborers. It is now established scientifically that no matter how intelligent you are your emotions can literally KILL you! Three thousand years ago, the inspired writer of Proverbs stated a truth that medical science is now just in the process of confirming: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones" (Proverbs 17:22). This Biblical statement is true in more ways than one, for emotional upset almost literally "dries the bones" of its victims. A classic example of the above is the manifestation of fibrositis, or muscular rheumatism. It was found that many young men in the service developed this disease during World War I. At that time, it was thought that the disease, which causes pains in the chest and muscular structure of its victims, was due to the wet, miserable and exposed living conditions in the trenches of Northern France. But in the Second World War, almost the same percentage of men in the battle line developed fibrositis. The percentage was the same whether they were fighting in the cold, wet Aleutian Islands, or in hot, dry North Africa. Later, it was proved that fibrositis was emotionally induced and had no relation whatever to geographical location. Yet the pain is very real — and acts, just like the Proverbs describes, like the "bones were dried" and need an oiling! But the "merry heart" does GOOD not only in preventing this fibrositis but a multitude of other ills as well — including heart disease and ulcers.
We Must LEARN to be Satisfied
Again, the Proverbs state: "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken" (Proverbs 15:13). And it is certainly true that the man who lets his mind dwell on sorrow, frustration and negative thoughts will literally "break" his spirit or mind in a way that may actually lead to insanity — carried to the ultimate extreme. Emotional brooding and worrying over petty problems or temporary disease only creates a vicious cycle whereby these are much more liable to occur next time! The entire mental attitude becomes negative, the wisdom and judgment is clouded, the drive and enthusiasm is diminished. Again: "All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast" (verse 15). Often, a very small farmer or day laborer in America or Britain, or a peasant in Asia or Africa may be FAR MORE HAPPY than the business "tycoon" — so filled with the spirit of competition, hostility, resentment, and frustration — in our modern Western world. In spite of all our material blessings, so many millions of us in this Western world have not learned to be "satisfied." We have not learned to be grateful and thankful for the blessings we have received. All too often we have great swelling vanity. In our striving for "success," we are easily upset and irritated if things don't go just exactly according to schedule. We become angry or bitter if anyone gets in our way — whether it be in our job, in line at the water cooler, or slowing down our car on the freeway!
Learn to RULE Your Emotions
Growing up in this Western world, most of us are taught how to dress and eat, how to read and write and get along reasonably well in the bare "functioning" of life and earning our daily bread. But we are NOT taught God's spiritual laws of life — nor are we taught how to RULE our emotions properly! This most important of all knowledge ought to be taught in the home first of all. But the home is often the worst possible example of emotional stability, happiness and obedience to the laws of God, physical or spiritual. This is a vast subject, and there is room for much more to be said in following articles. Nevertheless, you can start now to teach yourself proper emotional control and responses to life which will greatly aid in producing a really happy, balanced life! It will require effort and concentration at first, especially. In order to be truly effective, it must be practiced diligently as a way of life so that it becomes second nature. The following points are not merely to "skim over" as a matter of interest, but to study, review and use in building a fuller, more balanced and happy life for yourself and your family as you learn to share them with others. Here, then, are SEVEN STEPS toward overcoming emotional upset and building happiness into your life.
I. Accentuate the Positive and Practice Cheerfulness
How many of you grew up in families where the negative feelings were always stressed, the misfortunes, the frustrations, the dark side of things? Millions have. And this very type of attitude is something to avoid like the plague. For people who are constantly worrying, harping and complaining are prime candidates for emotionally induced illness. They are the ones who will have the most heart attacks, ulcers and other emotionally induced problems. At the same time, the man who practices cheerfulness and positive thinking is far happier. He sees good possibilities and incidental joys in nearly everything. He is thankful to God to just be alive. Thankful for the breath of air he breathes, the food he eats, the clothes he wears, the house he lives in. Thankful he has any kind of car to drive — since so many hundreds of millions in other parts of the world do not. Thankful if he has any radio or television at all. This type of individual is one who enjoys a quiet walk out-of-doors — looking at the clouds above, the plants, the trees, the birds and all the beauties of the creation about him. He is one who enjoys visiting with and looking into the eyes of his fellow human beings with warmth and often merriment. He has determined to enjoy life, not merely endure it. Back during the Second World War, we here in America were enjoying a cute song that went something like this: "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, don't mess with Mr. In-between!" This song helped many get over some of the doldrums of the last few years of the Depression, work long hard hours during the Second World War and maintain a generally positive attitude in the face of problems.
Look on the Bright Side
This is the attitude we must create in ourselves if we are to be successful and happy as we want to be. Along with this positive attitude, there must also be a spirit of thankfulness and rejoicing. A most inspiring section of the Bible where these very attitudes are emphasized is in Paul's letter to the Philippians. Here was a time when the Apostle himself was a prisoner of Rome — guarded by a Roman soldier and whose legs were evidently shackled by a literal ball and chain. Yet this man of God writes: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, REJOICE" (Philippians 4:4). Then, continuing in verse 8, Paul exhorts: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Here, in plain language, and in a time of personal trial, God's Apostle was plainly telling the Christians of that day to rejoice and to think positively about the things that are true, honest, just, pure and lovely. Notice that he did not dwell on the probable "unjust" circumstances contributing to his arrest and imprisonment. He did not dwell on the fact that he was bound with a chain and being guarded by a Roman soldier — with perhaps death in the offering if his trial did not turn out well. This is not a matter of "mind science" or forgetting the real problems that present themselves. But it is a matter of facing those problems with a truly positive and cheerful attitude — even under adverse circumstances. It is a matter of learning and disciplining yourself not to continually dwell on the negative aspect of things and so defeat your own purposes by brooding and worrying. It is a matter of accentuating the positive things — lightening tight situations with a little bit of humor and cheerfulness wherever possible — and constantly looking on the "bright side" always.
II. Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk
Some people continually keep thinking over, brooding over, talking over and generally "moaning around" about every defeat, setback, frustration that they can think of. How utterly miserable they are making themselves! And there is no excuse! Every intelligent human being can teach himself — if his parents, friends and tutors fail to teach him — the lesson that crying over spilled milk is stupid. Yes, there is no better word for it — just plain stupid! Oh, I know that we all do it sometimes if we're not careful. But that still doesn't excuse it. For we can change if we really want to! Again, the inspired apostle Paul gives excellent advice: "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). Will you learn to "forget" — at least as far as worrying about — all your past frustrations, defeats and misfortunes? Can you learn to start each day with a clean slate mentally? Can you learn to "press toward the mark" — toward your goals — without constantly worrying about the past or about temporary misfortunes along the way? Of course, if you are wrong, learn to examine the facts unemotionally. And by taking "inventory" of your plans, progress and goals occasionally, you will make far fewer mistakes. When you do make serious mistakes, learn to repent — as the Bible says — and be very sorry that you did. But "repentance," Biblically speaking, involves far more than being sorry. For repentance implies CHANGE. It means that you are so sorry — at the time, although not "brooding" about it forever — that you are willing to turn around and go the other way. That is fine, and as it should be. You should be willing to change when you are wrong. You should be willing to admit error and be sincerely sorry when you find you have made a mistake or committed a sin. But even God Himself does not require you to stew around forever, worrying, running your sins or misfortunes through your mind over and over again like a repeating phonograph record! So learn to quit worrying about the past. Learn to stop pitying yourself. Learn not to cry over spilled milk!
III. Always AVOID Bickering and Arguments
Life is simply too short to spend it in acrimonious bickering, fighting and arguing with your associates or those you love. And, strangely, the very ones we love most are often the ones we spend the most time arguing with. Often it is merely a matter of family background and habit. But it is a costly habit in terms of time, energies and the devitalizing effect of negative emotions. It is not worth the price. So if you are in a position where you must exhort or correct others, learn to do it firmly, fairly and quickly. Simply let your associates know that you will not tolerate, or engage in, long drawn out arguments and debates. Of course, learn to use tact and diplomacy when you do have to disagree with or correct others. Do it gently, when possible, and in private. With your wife, or with associates on the job, avoid the habit of disagreement and thinking you have to "straighten things out" by enlarging upon or improving what others have said in a way that leads to disagreement or argument. The constant carping away of a disgruntled wife, or husband or business associate can indeed wear one's nerves to a thin edge. If many in a family or organization engage in this type of thing, it will certainly work ruin. So, again, avoid arguments and bickering like the plague. The price is simply too high.
IV. Turn Defeats Into Victory
Even though your team loses the game or you lose the big sale or contract, don't let this get you down. Learn to accept with equanimity the ups and downs of life. use the lessons learned in defeat as the springboard for future victory. In that way, try to turn every defeat into a victory! Even though an immediate or physical victory will not always be yours in this life, remember that the best victory is to have kept your composure, your love, your courage and your goodwill for others. Many men and women who have been crippled by war or disease have achieved a remarkable victory because of their very affliction. Overcoming obstacles, doing fantastic things in spite of their handicaps, they have set an inspiring and magnificent example to the rest of us. Often, this kind of victory is the greatest, the most rewarding and the most lasting of all.
V. Face and HANDLE Your Problems with BIG Mindedness, Faith and Courage
The Great Depression of 1929 revealed the fiber of many men and women. Because of terrible business reversals, many an investor and businessman became hysterical, developed high blood pressure and ulcers. Some even committed suicide. Others, although equally shocked by this sudden reversal in the order of things, determined to see the problem through. They made new investments, built new businesses, in some cases took up entirely new professions and made a success! They were unwilling to let the immediate, the "around," upset them for the rest of their natural lives. How about you? Have you learned to be big-minded enough not to let little upsets throw you into the depth of despair? Have you learned not to become resentful or angry just because the other fellow loses his temper? The right answers to these questions are the hallmarks of a big man — a successful and happy man. For, with God's help, we must learn to discipline and control our thoughts and emotions so that they do not in fact hinder us from accomplishing our LONG RANGE GOALS. Obviously, the man who is easily upset, mad or discouraged is in for terrible trouble if he is dealing with others a great deal in this busy, hustling world. He will alternately be frustrated, angry or discouraged. But with God's help — if we ask for it in prayer — we can control our minds and emotions. Proverbs tells us: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that RULETH HIS SPIRIT than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32). The truly "big" man RULES his mind, emotions and attitudes so that they do not defeat him. An amusing yet meaningful account of how Winston Churchill practiced this principle concerns his being run down by a New York taxicab in 1931. He was confined to a bed of pain and kept from his work for some time. Of course, he could easily have become discouraged or perhaps bitter against America and all cab drivers. Instead, Churchill made front-page news by completely exonerating the driver. Then, he dashed old a lurid description of the episode for which he received $2,500.00! Churchill was big-minded about what could have been thought of as a "tragedy" by a lesser man. He possessed the understanding that this upset was only temporary and need not be a tragedy at all unless he and his emotions made it so.
VI. Build Faith in God
In the trials of life, you will need to have faith in something bigger than yourself. You should certainly take the opportunity to prove to yourself the existence and present, active ruler-ship of the personal God of the Bible. As you come to see that there is a great purpose being worked out here below, it will give you perspective and wisdom in handling the day-by-day and year-by-year problems of your life. Learn to take God at His Word. Learn to obey God. Then trust Him to deliver you from trials and tests. "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and His children shall have a place of refuge" (Proverbs 14:26). If you don't already know it, some day you will learn and really know that the only real faith and courage is that which comes from Almighty God. With the proper faith and courage from God, you will learn to face and handle your problems instead of running from them. The weak man is the one who "puts off" handling problems as they come up. He is the one who tries to ignore them, give them to others or bury them in desk drawers or filing cabinets. Often, the emotional turmoil and gnawing worry and brooding resulting from not handling or solving serious problems is far worse than the immediate action of handling these problems — no matter how unpleasant it may be at that particular moment. One of the laws of success for an executive or leader is to put the most difficult job at or near the top of his "to do" list! He must learn to do the big or difficult job first. He must not shrink from it, but act while his original momentum of getting the facts is still with him. All of us need to learn to do this in our personal lives. Be sure you get all the facts. Be sure you have time to think and pray to Almighty God over a misunderstanding, an argument or a problem in your family, life, or job. But once this is accomplished, take action quickly! Face and handle these problems with the wisdom, faith and courage that comes from God!
VII. Be a DOER
There is no use quickly reading vital information like this unless you are going to act on it and put it to work in your life! Even God describes this principle in relationship to His law: "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Romans 2 :13). Will you be a doer? Every one of you reading this has negative thoughts, fears, frustrations, and wrong emotions from time to time. Many of you are, of course, simply loaded with these. This has been, with you and in your family, a veritable way of life. you simply grew up in a family where arguing and bickering, dwelling on the negative side, crying over spilled milk and general pessimism prevailed. Overcoming this tendency in your life, in your family, in your job will require constant thought and effort. You will have to work hard at first to establish the cheerful, positive approach as a way of life for you. But the results will be far more than worth it. So use each key in this article as a tool — a working blueprint to help you make a better life in regard to the proper control of your mind and emotions. And learn to watch future issues of Plain Truth carefully for other vital articles along this line. Jesus said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more ABUNDANTLY (John 10:10). The only truly lasting and lastingly abundant life is being revealed in the pages of this vital magazine. For it is based on obedience to the living laws and WAYS of the Almighty God of love, wisdom and mercy. Be more than willing to learn, to prove and to LIVE that way!