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Developing a Health Consciousness

How well is well? Perhaps you have never asked yourself this question. It will prove interesting to think about it a moment and doing so may start a train of thought which will carry you into a state of happiness you have not known before. When do you think of yourself as being well? When you are free from aches and pains? When you can do your normal work without exhaustion? The questions which could be asked are numerous, but the big question is: Even if you are free from aches and pains and are able to do your regular work without exhaustion is it possible for you to feel still better?

The pinnacle of well-being is mental and physical vibrancy, when you can throw your entire enthusiastic self into anything you do whether work or play; when your mind is free from worry, because you accept the problems of the day as a challenge instead of approaching them with fear; when your heart is free from hatred because you have eyes which look only for the good in others; and when your todays are better than your yesterdays, and your tomorrows are looked forward to with joyous anticipation.

Following are ten simple steps for radiant mental and physical health, which are all you need to develop a health consciousness:

1. Have an incentive to want to be actively alive—on top of the world. We can do almost anything if we really want to. This applies to physical well-being as much as it does to anything else. We might go through the motions of doing things intended for better health, but, unless our actions are backed by a burning desire to succeed, we need not look for spectacular and glowing results.

It’s wonderful to feel good, to have that up-and-at-’em feeling, but before we can make progress in creating such a feeling, we must have a mighty good reason for doing so.

Step 1, therefore, is to acquire an incentive—a valid reason for wanting every fiber of your being to effervesce with vibrant energy.

Only a few suggestions will be offered as thought starters, but for the real incentives, explore that mind of yours to learn just what it is you would like to accomplish—or be.

Would you like to be a power in your community? Would you like to have the type of personality which sways people? Forcefulness is not a question of how you pitch your voice, or how loud you talk. It is a reflection of a mind alert and a body dynamically alive and vigorous.

Would you like to have a large circle of admiring friends? Would you like to be the one singled out for your opinion and advice, because there is something about you which spells authority? Would you like to be elected to important posts in your lodge or club, because of your personal magnetism?

Perhaps your desires might run along the lines of personal accomplishment. You may have said: “I would take up the study of music, if I felt better.” Or, it might have been painting or the mastering of one of the many crafts.

I may be a thousand miles from anything which nearly approaches your own incentive. You may be single and give anything for the right mate, but feel you do not have the youth or physical attractiveness to interest the opposite sex.

But, regardless of what your desires are, get an incentive which will give you a reason to want to be on top physically and mentally; then you will be in a position to get the maximum good from the steps which follow.

2. Know you CAN gain better health and live longer. The only people who have ever accomplished anything are those who knew they could. To approach any task with doubt in your mind about your ability to do it is a certain step toward failure.

Buoyant health is not something we acquire by luck. It is a reflection of the way we think and the way we live. Bodies which creak with aches and pains are not given to us by Fate as a punishment of some kind. We have them because of the way we live and think.

The mistake which most people make is to think that the price we pay for a joyous state of well-being is so high, the reward is not worth the effort. How utterly wrong!

One might say that sacrifice is part of the price we pay for a vigorously alive body. But is it? Let us take a few habits as examples. Think of those who smoke to excess and whose hands shake if they are without a cigarette for a few moments. Would it be a sacrifice if they were to practice moderation to the extent that a smoke would be enjoyable, instead of a means to keep from suffering? Think of those who drink too much. Is the intense suffering from a hangover the reward they gain from the habit? Would it be a sacrifice to suggest moderation, that a drink could be taken now and then for sociability, instead of being the means of shearing one of all semblance of culture and refinement?

At first thought it may be hard to believe that we make more sacrifices with an ailing body than we do to have and maintain a glad-to-be-alive body. Think it over and you’ll quickly agree.

Reflect over the many things you could and would have done, had you felt like it. Think of the places you would have visited, had you the mental and physical spirit to do so. And think of the countless hours of feeling just “half fit.”

Your judgment tells you that if you embark on a program aimed at glorious health, you can accomplish it. So, Step 2 is to know you can gain better health and live longer.

It may be necessary to resort to a bit of mental discipline in developing a better health consciousness. If, for years, you have been seeing yourself as one under par physically, it will take an effort to get yourself to the point where you know, beyond doubt, you can enjoy radiant health. Motion creates emotion, we learn, so, for a few days, hold to the thought: I CAN gain robust health.

Of course, accepting the thought that you can gain better health is not enough. You must take the steps which will make better health a reality. In other words, the realization that good health is within your grasp must be brought into reality by action.

3. Get your mind in order. As you learned in the previous chapter, the word “psychosomatic” is now frequently heard in connection with illnesses of various kinds. Doctors are including many, many ailments in a long list of those which are originated in the mind. This fact does not mean that a psychosomatically sick person is insane; it merely means that most psychosomatic conditions result from fear and worry.

Stomach ulcers are thought of as originating mostly in the mind; “strain” we call it, but what is mental strain other than worry over certain conditions, or our vivid fear that we will prove to be inadequate to cope with them?

My definition of worry is holding mental pictures of things we do not want, instead of things we do want. Think about this a moment, and you’ll agree.

We might also say that worry is evidence of doubt in our ability to solve the problem which is causing the worry. Perhaps if we look at it from this angle, we might stiffen our spines a bit and prove to ourselves and others that we are bigger than the object of our worry, and will do what is necessary to change it. Realize that worry never helps anything. To the contrary, it impairs health and blocks happiness.

Self-mastery is a reward which comes to the one who can conquer fear and worry—and they are easy to conquer—if one will accept and act upon the truth: “Worry prevents our doing the very thing which will provide the means to prevent the worry.”

4. Learn the things you should and should not do! A sage once said: “Success comes from doing the things you know you ought to do, and not doing the things you know you ought not to do.”

It could wisely be said that invigorating health would result from following this sane advice. But, of first importance is to know exactly what you should and should not do. Where can this vital information be obtained?

The moment we become imbued with any thought, we become almost a magnet for information on that subject. We are attracted to books and periodicals covering various phases of it. Our minds and thoughts dwell upon it.

“A fault discovered is half overcome,” I learned when just a boy. I believe if I were to take exuberant health as an objective, the first thing I would want to know is the condition of my body at present. I would, therefore, let my doctor give me a head-to-toe examination, so I would learn many of the things I should and should not do regarding my physical being.

An architect visualizes his ideas as they come to him. At his drawing board, and with his instruments, he develops his thoughts objectively. Since we are architects of our own beings and affairs, it would be well to begin by listing those things we should and should not do in our pursuit of glowing health.

A plan of action should be conceived which would include activity on the things we should do, and discipline in avoiding the things we should not do.

Naturally our program of action will include supervision over the food we eat. But here and now let me say that eating for robust health does not mean giving up the things you like in favor of those you do not enjoy.

Vitamins and minerals are as essential to vibrant health as light and water are to plants. To have a deficiency of either vitamins or minerals means living in a body under par physically, one which will break down many years before it should. A startlingly large percentage of people suffers from malnutrition, not because they are eating too little, but because the foods they do eat are deficient in the elements necessary for health.

Selecting a diet of items recognized for certain vitamins and minerals is no assurance that they are being obtained. Good virgin soils hold an abundance of the minerals essential to good health but, in all parts of the country, these minerals are being used up much faster than nature or the farmer can put them back again. They are used up by over-cropping, carried away by erosion, washed out by rains.

Vitamins are not food. They do not turn into blood, flesh and bone, or supply energy with their substance as foodstuffs do. They act instead as important links in the chemical processes by which the body turns food into tissues, removes waste products, and produces energy. Without vitamins these vital processes could not go on.

Selecting food with care is always a wise precaution, but the one determined to have scintillating, glad-to-be-alive health, will not risk getting all essential elements from foodstuffs presumed to contain them, but will make certain of a balanced diet by adding food supplements obtained from a reliable source.

5. Develop an ENTHUSIASM to do and not to do! Acquiring the facts just given is essential in reaching our objective: Radiant Mental and Physical Health; but, merely acquiring this information is not enough. We must develop an enthusiasm for carrying through; for putting into operation the plans which will insure radiant health.

There is one word, common to most of us, which has been responsible for many of our failures in life. That word is tomorrow. How often do we learn of something which would be of help to us, and we resolve to do it—tomorrow? And, of course, tomorrow never comes.

If you have been reading with a serious mind, you are enthusiastic—right now! You are beginning to see vistas of thrilling happiness with a sparkling mind backed by a dynamic body.

Problems which have heretofore been worries to you now appear as challenges. But, as you peep behind the curtain and envision your new future, do not allow procrastination to make you think of tomorrow as a starting point. Start right now; the moment you lay this book aside. The start need not be a physical one, doing something the eyes can see. The start can be your resolve; your resolution that, since your rightful heritage is vibrant mental and physical health, you, from this moment onward, will do everything within your power to make it a part of your existence.

6. Take years off of your life through your actions! Motion creates emotion. The men and women who make pals of their children and who enter into the activities of youth will remain young far longer than the parents who live like traditionally old-fashioned mothers and fathers.

We can’t act young without feeling young, and when we feel young, we are putting the processes of Nature to work toward making us young.

Dancing, swimming, rowing, hiking, are a few of the activities which promote physical well-being. But, right here, in connection with these pastimes, there is a thought of considerable importance. Do not do anything merely because you think it will be good for you. Since, as we learned in Step 2, there is a definite relationship between mind and body, learn to like the things you do. If you dance, enjoy it to the fullest extent, and you will gain from the combination of psychological and physiological benefits. This holds true with all other forms of exercise. The more you like them, the greater will be your benefit.

Our clothing plays an important part in the way we feel. If we wear drab garments, we do not feel as gay as when we dress colorfully. Although it is always imperative to use good taste, there is no rule against wearing clothes which express our cheerfulness.

What did you enjoy doing ten, twenty or perhaps thirty years ago? Try to renew your interest in it. You may find the years literally rolling off your age as you do so.

7. Go on a mental diet. Again referring to psychosomatic ailments, those physical conditions which emanate from mind, I would dare to say that a mental diet is more important than a physical one.

As you have been learning throughout this book, negative thoughts produce negative reactions. An old philosopher once said: “Seek thy comrades among the industrious, because the idle will sap thy energy from thee.” Whether or not this is true, remember some of the visits you have had with those whose conversation is confined to subjects of gloom and disaster. Remember how gloomy you were when you left them? On the other hand, think of times spent with the optimistic, hopeful ones, and you will remember feeling inspired, and wanting to do big things yourself.

Discipline yourself to think in terms of health and happiness. Select reading matter which will encourage you to climb to greater heights.

Do not indulge in negative conversation. When writing letters, see how much encouragement you can give, instead of making them dissertations of woe.

The secret of happiness is not in doing the things you like to do, but in liking the things you have to do. The acceptance of this thought will be a forward step in your mental diet.

In Step 5 you determined to abandon the word tomorrow from your vocabulary as far as procrastination is concerned. This definitely applies to your mental diet. You are on it—right now.

8. Teach others how to have radiant mental and physical health. It is true that happiness comes from giving happiness, and that to teach others how to gain radiant mental and physical health would make us extremely happy. There is, however, another reason for the suggestion given in this step.

We cannot successfully teach anything to others without setting an example. It would be incongruous to tell others how to be joyfully alive and exuberant, if we were to drag ourselves along looking only half alive. We want to show what life means to us, so that it will be an inspiration for others to follow our example.

Since charity begins at home, persuade the various members of your family to join with you in attaining radiant mental and physical health.

Start a movement among those with whom you work, not only for the good you will be doing them, but for what it will do for you.

Practically everything we do in life is based upon habit. We live according to the habit patterns we have created. Some habits are good; some are not. In following Step 8, you are unconsciously training yourself to create and live according to new and highly beneficial habit patterns.

9. Live correctly! These two words could lead you into many different avenues of thought. They could refer to your food, to your habits, to your whole mode of living.

“Let your conscience be your guide” is the meaning I wish to convey. To talk about our relationships with others may seem a far cry from the rudiments of good health, but psychologists know that the things we do that challenge our self-respect are reflected in our physical condition.

A person who is not dependable never enjoys the vibrant health common to the one who is respected for his dependability. An unpunctual person is not on top of the world physically. Why? Because something psychological is disturbing him within. Subconsciously he loses a certain amount of self-respect, and a psychosomatic illness is usually the result.

In connection with Step 9, I cannot neglect disposition. One with a bad disposition never enjoys vigorous health. Pages could be written proving how a bad disposition undermines happiness and success, but for its effect on your health—ask your doctor. Ask him to explain how anger actually releases a poison in the blood stream which retards the digestion and encourages any one of a long list of maladies.

Anger and reason do not go together, as evidenced by the fact that when we are angry, we say and do many things we later regret. You can see, therefore, that by giving in to anger, you are literally retarding your progress, and doing immeasurable harm to your physical being.

10. Be happy! A prominent and successful doctor once said that a happy person is seldom ill, but that when he is, he responds to treatment much faster than other people. You will have no difficulty in agreeing with this doctor, if you will reflect a moment.

You know you feel much better, physically, when you are happy than you do when you are sad and depressed. You also know that when you are not quite up to par, and something happens to cause great elation, you at once feel better. This will show you why the two words Be Happy make a fitting conclusion to these 10 Steps for Radiant Mental and Physical Health.

Happiness comes from within. You now have—and always will have—all the happiness there is. To be happy is merely to express happiness. And to express happiness is to take a great step forward toward acquiring inexhaustible, glowing health.

You now have the 10 Steps, but this is only the beginning. From this moment onward, they are to become a part of your daily routine. Think about them; practice them; live them. A new and incredibly joyous life awaits you.

Visit Grow Rich While You Sleep for more articles from this book by Ben Sweetland.