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that man is worse than the first. The trouble was that the man's heart was empty.
He who can smile is victor over himself,-over his lower impulses; and he also becomes victor over all his antagonists. He wins a victory that does not crush his enemies, but makes them better, makes them ashamed of their degradation, and turns them into friends.
Surely the smile is one of the most powerful weapons in life's path.
It is moral, it is ethical, it is spiritual. It is one of the most potent tools given to the race to conquer hatred and antagonism.
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The distinction between the positive and the negative in human feeling explains a fact that is almost universally recognized, namely, that cheerfulness and the smile are necessary to health.
Some of the oldest and truest proverbs, born out of the very heart of the race, refer to the necessity of enjoyment to health.
It is a well-known fact that the most successful physicians accomplish much of the good results which follow from their ministrations by the genial smile and the cheerful voice they carry into the sick room. Their presence brings courage and confidence.
I have heard recently of a physician, in fact, of a class of physicians, who give no medicine at all but prescribe only laughter.
The smile and laughter directly express health. The presence of the smile is the test of the health of a little child. The true smile not only expresses physical health, but expresses mental and moral health as well.
How does the smile or laughter affect the health?
In the first place, they cause activity in the extensor or expansive muscles; they increase breathing; they stimulate circulation; they bring all the vital functions and organs into harmonious activity.
There are really but three actions of the human body-expansion, contraction and modulation. Expansion expresses life, joy, exultation, courage; contraction expresses intellectual effort, control, repression, uneasiness, and fear.
Modulation, which is more or less a union of expansion and contraction, but in fact, a normal union with expansion in a natural ascendency and only enough contraction to regulate and guide, expresses sympathy, tenderness, gentleness and love. It manifests a perfect balance between thinking and feeling-between spontaneous actions and deliberative regulations between the work of that which is finite and that which is more the result of the infinite. Modulation is a sympathetic union of man's highest realizations, love, contentment, and poetic exultation.
Accordingly, normal modulation is expressive not only of physical but also of spiritual health. In order to develop in all parts of the body modulation, which is seen to its perfection in the ideal smile, it is necessary to accentuate harmoniously all the expansive activities of the body. This develops not only grace, power of expression, but also health.
Laughter seems to be not only the most immediate expression of health, but the most direct expression of life,
Take, for example, a so-called “cold.” What better remedy for a cold than to go away by oneself and laugh for half an hour. This laughter stimulates the circulation and removes congestion from local parts. Hot lemonade heats the centre of the body and thus stimulates circulation and in a similar way carries off congestion. From a hot lemonade and especially from drugs poured
into the stomach there is always danger of reaction and we take, as everybody says, “more cold.”
Laughter has no abnormal re-action. The results are more permanent. In proportion to the spiritual character of the remedy applied will there be an absence of reactionary tendencies. I have never come in contact with physicians who prescribe nothing but laughter, but I have well realized the results of laughing heartily and continuously for many minutes. Nothing will stimulate circulation more or have a better effect upon the nervous system; nothing will agitate equally well and move to normal activity the vital organs.
There is really no reason for being sick. It is a negative condition, the result of a negative state of mind and the true remedy is to establish a positive condition of mind.
Laughter should not be performed in a mechanical, perfunctory way. True laughter results from imagination, sympathy, courage, confidence, and a realization that error is absolutely ridiculous, -that only truth is permanent and real.
When tempted to become despondent or angry we should look at the ridiculous side of things, we should realize and express sympathy rather than antagonism, joy rather than discouragement. We can see the ridiculous side of a situation and by training our sense of humor we may no longer be victims of folly and illusion.
When we laugh with a man or even at him he soon sees the ridiculousness of the situation himself. There is nothing so contagious as laughter. The greatest difficulties have been conquered by a smile or a joyous laugh.
There is one time in the day when we especially
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need laughter, and that is on awakening and on retiring. In a companion book these profound questions of how to wake and how to go to sleep are discussed, but we need line upon line to emphasize the importance of these hours and the importance of laughter.
On first waking up the birds sing their sweetest song and all the animals seem to awaken with greatest joy. Rarely, however, is this true of man. Many wake up with a whine-with the very opposite of a smile.
How greatly is the man to be pitied who dresses with a whine and a frown on his face, and who comes down to breakfast and has to have a hot cup of coffee to wake him up,-his voice in a wheeze and his body collapsed and not ready to do its work. The poor stomach must be made a lever to bring the man into wakefulness, when a smile and a few stretches could do the work and do it better as the sunshine makes the world.
Begin the day as the bird, with a song and a word of praise, or as the old cow does, in giving the stretches which she seems to enjoy so much. Every cell and fibre seems to laugh at the instinctive exertion.