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Be Good To Yourself

Where Does Your Energy Go?

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Ninety-nine percent of the sun’s power or energy stored up in a ton of coal is lost on its way to the electric light bulb. Thus we get only a hundredth part of the possible light contained in a ton of coal. The other ninety-nine parts are dissipated in heat, and used up in friction in the engine or the electric apparatus, and never become light. To discover someway to prevent this fearful waste of energy is one of the great problems confronting scientists today.

Just as fearful a waste of energy goes on in man's use of his own powers. Instead of one hundred percent of his energy appearing in results that are worthwhile, often not more than one percent of it gets into his real work, the rest being thrown away, dissipated in scores of ways.

A young man starts out in life with a large amount of force and vitality stored up in his brain, nerves, and muscles. He feels an almost limitless supply of energy welling up within him, a fullness and buoyancy which know no repression. He believes he will do wonders with this energy, and that he will transmute practically all of it into light, — achievement.

In the pride of his youth and strength, he seems to think that there is practically no end to his power to throw off energy, and so he often flings it out on every side with reckless prodigality. He burns it up here in a cigarette or a pipe, there in whisky or wine; here he drains it off in heavy suppers and late hours, there in vicious living, idleness, shiftlessness, and botched work, until he finally comes to himself with a shock and asks, "Where is the electric light I meant to produce with all my energy? Is this flickering candle flame all that I can generate?"

He is appalled to find that, with all his superabundant vitality, he has scarcely produced light enough to illumine his own way, and has nothing left for the world. He who had boasted of his strength and felt confident of shedding a light that would dazzle the world stumbles along himself in semi-darkness. The energy which should have been transmuted into achievement has been lost on the way.

It is not the vitality we utilize that dwarfs achievement and whittles away and shortens life: it is what we foolishly throw away. Millions of people have made miserable failures in life by letting this precious energy, which might have made them successful, slip away from them in foolish living and silly dissipation.

It is considered a terrible thing for a youth to spend a thousand dollars of his father's money in a single night's dissipation; but what about the strain upon his vitality, the life forces which he throws away, or the wasted energy which might have been put into physical and mental achievement? What is the loss of money compared with the demoralization wrought by such a debauch?

What are a thousand dollars in comparison with even a small fraction of precious life-power? Money lost may be regained, but vitality lost in dissipation not only cannot be regained, but it is also a thousand times worse than lost, because it has demoralized all that is left, deteriorated the character, and undermined the very foundation of all that is best in life.

But it is not always what is classed as wicked dissipation that robs us of energy. There is a wanton waste of vitality in various forms going on all about us, which might be converted into something that would count in life. Some time ago there was a six days bicycle race in Madison Square Garden, New York City, in which the contestants drained off more vitality than would have accomplished years of ordinary work.

It was really pitiable to watch the exhausted victims, who were determined not to give up though they should die in the struggle. The drawn lines about the mouth and eyes, and the haggard expression of those men in the last hours of their desperate ride, haunted everybody who saw them. Many of those naturally strong, rugged fellows had to be lifted from their wheels, while some of them fell prone upon the floor in their utter physical exhaustion and mental stupor. Others completely lost consciousness, owing to brain poisoning caused by the accumulation of worn-out muscle and nerve tissue in the blood.

Thus do we turn even our most healthful, recreative exercises and sports into fatal energy-wasters, degrading them into exhibitions of mere brutality, in which men lose manhood and strength instead of gaining them.

A foreigner traveling in this country says, "Americans waste as much energy as most other nations utilize." It is true that there is a woeful lack of serenity, of poise, and of balance among us. We are always on the move, always twitching somewhere.

A noted physician says that most people expend ten times the energy really necessary in almost everything they do. Many grasp a pen as if it were a crowbar, keep the muscles of the arm tense when they write, and power out as much vital force in signing their names as an athlete would in throwing a heavy weight a great distance. Not one person in a hundred, he says, knows how to make proper use of their muscles or to relax perfectly when at rest. Yet it is chiefly through repose, or perfect rest, that we are enabled to store up energy, to stop the leaks, and to cut off all wastes.

A normal person, who has stopped all these energy leaks is not nervous or restless. He has control of his muscles, and is ever master of himself, self-centered, and poised. He gives you the impression of a mighty reserve poser, because he has not wasted his energy. He can sit or stand still, looking you squarely in the eye without flinching, because there is power back of the eye. He is always balanced, never flies off his center, and does not need artificial stimulants or bracers.

It is no wonder that so many of our nervous and over-active businessmen begin so early to die at the top; that they feel exhausted in the morning; that they are fagged and tired out most of the time; and that they resort to stimulants or smoking to keep up the intense, unnatural strain, and to give them artificial energy as a substitute for the real energy which is constantly leaking away in a score of ways.

The tired brains and fagged nerves of the spend thrifts of energy are responsible for a large proportion of the abnormal thinking, the wretched mistakes in business, the fatal blunders which cost human lives on land and sea, the suicides, the insanity, and the crime of the world. When the brain cells and nerve cells are well supplied with reserve force, a man is normal, strong, and vigorous. He is not haunted by all sorts of unhealthy appetites, or by a desire to do abnormal things, or live an unnatural life of excitement and self-indulgence.

Just look back over the day and see where your energy has gone. See how much of it has leaked away from you in trifles. Perhaps you have wasted it in fits of fretting, fuming, grumbling, faultfinding, or in the little frictions that have accomplished nothing, but merely rasped your nerves, made you irritable, crippled you, and left you exhausted. You may have drained off more nerve and brain force in a burst of bad temper than you have expended in doing your real work.

Perhaps you did not realize that, in going through your place of business like a mad bull through a china shop, you pulled out every spigot and turned on every faucet of your mental and physical reservoir, and left them open until all the energy you had stored up during the night had run off.

Look back and see whether your scolding, fault-finding, criticizing, nagging, and what you call 'reading the riot act,' to your employees, has helped you in any way or accomplished anything. No; you only lost your energy and self-control, your self-respect, and the respect and admiration of your employees.

Some women are always exhausted because they spend their vitality on trifles, frittering away energy in a score of ways without any results. When evening comes, they are unable to sit up. They do not know how to shut off the leaks, how to turn off the faucets of nerve force and energy, and night finds them like a city with every reservoir and water main empty, an easy prey to every draught of air or inciting cause of illness or ill-temper.

How pitiable it is to see such women shriveled and shrunken before they reach thirty-five, and looking old at forty, not because of their hard work or trials, but because of useless fretting and anxiety that have only brought discord into the home, and premature age to themselves.

Much of the worst kind of energy-dissipation is not what is commonly called "immoral." It is often the result of ignorance, carelessness, or neglect; but it is dissipation, all the same. A great deal of energy is wasted in working without system, and in not getting hold of the right end of a thing at the start.

Many of us so completely exhaust our strength in useless worry and anxiety, in anticipating our tasks and in doing our work over and over again mentally before we begin, that we have no force left for the actual work when we come to it. We are like a fire engine letting off all its steam on its way to a fire, and arriving with no power left to throw water on the flames.

Some of us waste our energies and make our lives ineffective by trying to do too many things. Ability to do one thing superbly almost precludes the possibility of doing other things in a way to attract attention. If we focus powerfully upon one thing, energy is withdrawn from everything else. The mind is like a searchlight, — everything is in semi-darkness except the object upon which the light is thrown at the moment. It cannot illumine a very large area at one time. We cannot concentrate powerfully enough upon more than one thing to reach excellence.

People who are constantly making resolutions with great vigor and determination, but who never put them into execution, do not realize how much precious force they waste in dreaming and wishing. They live in dreamland while they work in mediocrity.

Their heads are in the clouds while their feet are on the earth. If these people would only spend the energy thus wasted in actually doing something, they would get somewhere.

Get rid of all vitality-sappers. If you have taken an unfortunate step, retrace it if you can; remedy it as far as it is in your power to do so; but, when you have done your best, let the thing drop forever. Do not drag its skeleton along with you. Never allow what is dead, and should be buried, to keep bobbing up and draining off your life-capital in worry or vain regrets. Do not do anything or touch anything which will lower your vitality.

Always ask yourself, "What is there in this thing I am going to do which will add to my life-work, which will increase my power, keep me in a more superb condition, and make me more efficient in the service of humanity?" If you would make your mark in the world, and do your part in advancing civilization, you must cut off everything which is an energy-waster or success-killer.

Everywhere we see young men and young women with great possibilities, crippled in their lifework because they have not vitality and energy enough to push their way and overcome the obstacles in the path to their goal. It is pitiable to see many of them at work, yawning and stretching all day, sleepy, 'dopey' and unenthusiastic, with nothing fresh or spontaneous about them. They have let their energy escape in a hundred foolish ways, and have none left to put into their work.

An author's book does not take hold of the reader because the writer has no vigor to put into it. It is commonplace and wishy-washy; it does not arouse interest, because the author was not aroused when they wrote it. A low state of vitality accounts for the lifeless work in every line of their endeavor. Many a clergyman does not get hold of people, and cannot fill his church, because he has no reserve of energy. He lacks stamina and physical vitality, He is a weakling mentally because he is a weakling physically.

Many a teacher cannot arouse the enthusiasm of their pupils, because he or she has no enthusiasm themselves. Their brain and nerves are fagged; their energy reservoir is exhausted; there is no spontaneity in their work; it is enforced drudgery. Many artists, mechanics, and labourers— workers in all ranks—bring but one percent, of their energy to their work. The rest is gone in the smoke, heat, and friction of life.

What are you doing with your energy? Are you using it to produce light, or are you losing it in useless ways? Be honest with yourself and find out where it is going. You may be very honest in your dealings with others, but very dishonest in your dealings with yourself. You may be ignorantly or carelessly squandering your life-power.

The best tonic in the world is the exhilaration which comes from the consciousness of personal power, of being masterful in what we undertake, of being able to grapple vigorously with the great life-problems and to seize with the grip of a master precious opportunities when they come; to feel equal to any emergency, however great, and to be larger than any demand upon us. Whoever possesses this tonic will be sure to transmute into achievement not one percent, merely, but one hundred percent, of their energy.

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