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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/405

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CONSERVATION OF HUMAN ENERGY.

must meet his full share. Indeed, to escape all such vexations would by no means tend to elevate the soul or ennoble the mind, but rather evolve an insipid character, bereft of the essential attributes which make for that perfect quality of spirit, the possession of which can alone impart a desirable beauty to the countenance. "Fortitude, steadfastness and the makings of character come not of rainbow dawns and quiet evenings and the facile attainments of small desires;" and the defences against ugliness which wealth and position are supposed to afford (by those who have them not) are at best disappointing. A little with contentment is admittedly the ground of great gain. Again, labors and the meeting of difficulties hurt neither body nor spirit unless they so affect both that the habit of worry inculcates a mental bias toward peevishness or despair. Nothing mars the human image of God so swiftly and inevitably as fretfulness and complainings. So true is this, as an item of common knowledge, that the countenances of chronic invalids and real sufferers are known often to be, and remain through long painful years, beautiful and satisfying. Again it frequently happens that persons thus successful in enjoying for themselves, and presenting to their friends, a fund of pleasure and satisfaction, did not originally possess the key to this boon, but acquired their charm by wisely schooling their minds until the blessing came. Much more could be said to demonstrate that features, mental or physical, which one may greatly desire can often be gained in spite of original shortcomings and the buffets of fate. So much then for the higher possibilities which lie open to those who earnestly desire to do, or be, or get something better than their circumstances seem to warrant.

In securing economy of the vital forces, admittedly so desirable, the chief factor is to conserve the ebb and flow of innervation. Tins is the key to the situation. The cellular waste may be estimated as direct and indirect. The direct waste is simpler and less hurtful, as the needless energy expended by the muscles of an arm exerted to raise a weight in such a fashion that twice the power is put forth required to perform a task. Indirect extravagance of energy is a far too common habit (for habit it becomes whatever the original impulse) by which tension is maintained in more muscles than are concerned in the performance of an act, whereby a prodigality of nervous force is expended. Again between the performance of all muscular acts, there should be periods of complete relaxation of tension, by which alone prompt repair is secured. Back of and controlling all this is the emotional balance whereby the nervous energy is made to act to an undue prolongation, or to a squandering of the cellular consumption. Thus it is that two persons, or the same person on different occasions, set forth to do a bit of work requiring precisely the same effort. One