Art of Mental Pictures – Magic of Believing
Once when I was in the investment banking business. Bob, a young salesman, came into my office for advice.
“I wish you would tell me how I can overcome my fear of Mr. Smith. I know I can sell him if I can just get in to see him and talk with him on his own level. As it stands, he’s got the life scared out of me and every other salesman.”
Mr. Smith, as I’ll call him here, is a millionaire with a very imposing office organization. He is a portly type, with a heavy shock of hair and beetle-browed. Because of his growling manner, he easily scares timid folks. However, I knew he liked people who talked up to him.
I was momentarily puzzled, but the answer soon came. Bob had been picturing this man as he saw him. “You know he’s not going to hurt you physically,” I said. “Suppose you saw Mr. Smith at the beach in a bathing suit. You wouldn’t be afraid of him there, would you, even though he did appear to be a pretty hairy fellow?”
“Certainly not,” he replied. Then the idea of a hairy body came to me, and I asked, “Bob, did you ever see one of those clownish dancing bears wearing a fez or a dunce cap? You know they can growl, but most of them are toothless and can’t bite.”
“Sure,” responded the salesman.
“Well, you have a good imagination. Just picture our friend as one of those harmless old bears, fez, collar, and all, and the mental hazard is gone, isn’t it?”
Laughing heartily. Bob went out. A few days later he sold the man $20,000 worth of securities, and this executive may still be wondering how the young salesman ever got in to see him, to say nothing of selling him.
A couple of weeks later, Bob was back in my office, telling me how he had used similar methods in making another sale, this time to a gruff old man who wore white whiskers, had a patriarchal and stern appearance, and used a vitriolic tongue that was feared by most salesmen.
“That old goat had me buffaloed for a long time. I knew he had money, but every time I passed his store and saw him scowling – he was always scowling – I couldn’t get up courage to go in and tackle him. A few days ago I got to thinking of the picture-making plan you told me to use on Mr. Smith and the idea popped into my head of a picture of Santa Claus. I said to myself, ‘Sure, the old goat could be Santa Claus, and who’s afraid of that kindly old boy?’ Well, it worked there too. The old man was swell to me – sort of flattered that a young fellow like me dared approach him. I got a $5,000 order out of him and he told me to come back next week because he wanted to go over his whole security list with me. That means more business.”
Many men holding executive positions assume an air of importance that causes some people to hold them in awe. With their elaborate office surroundings and their numerous secretaries and clerks, they put on a show that proves impressive to some. Just bear in mind that these executives are mere human beings with the same fears, frailties, and faults that are common to millions; at home they are often docile little souls. When you picture them as they really are, rather than as they appear or pretend to be, the mental hazard immediately disappears. The genuinely great man is usually easy to approach and seldom barricades himself from callers. If you are a salesman, this should give you a clue to how to eliminate the mental hazards that crop up when you visit someone who puts on a show of being superior.
A lawyer told me of an experience that nicely illustrates my point: “I once found myself pitted against an attorney who had a great reputation and was generally feared by younger men. For a little while in the courtroom, I admit I was frightened, but I closed my eyes and said to myself, ‘I’m just as good as he is; as a matter of fact, I’m better. I can lick him and I will.’ I repeated words and phrases like that for several seconds, and when I opened my eyes, I could have licked two like him.
I now go through the same little ritual whenever I get a tough case or the jury doesn’t look favorable. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s all illusory, but it always works.”
People who act and appear hard-boiled are usually softies at heart and once an interviewer eliminates the mental hazard, he has licked the situation. Take a couple of deep breaths the next time you call on one, convince yourself he’ll be a push-over, and he will.
During the Depression of the 1930’s, a group of managers and assistant managers, including the butchers of a large grocery chain store, came on their own initiative to me for help. After a six weeks’ course, the men decided to put the lectures into effect. It was agreed that each store one day a week would use the science I had expounded to push the sale of certain items. After considerable debate, among the items selected for the test were cheese, rolled roasts, salmon, and just plain Hubbard squash, since the manager of a store in one of the outlying districts had said he could make a good buy of squash from a farmer. The day before each sale, the managers carefully coached their clerks to make a mental picture of each customer coming into their stores and buying the selected items. Of course, prominent displays were made of each item, and each clerk was instructed to think of selling the special item whenever a customer appeared.
The results were astounding. The store specializing in cheese sold more cheese in that one day than had passed over the counter in a six months’ period; the shop which specialized in the rolled roasts on Saturday had them sold before noon; the store which had featured fresh salmon on Friday sold more salmon than all the other stores of the group combined. The one where squash had been selected had to call upon the farmer twice during the day to replenish the supply.
Fifteen years later, with only one exception (and he was a war casualty), each man who took the lecture course was either in business for himself or had a much better job. As a matter of fact, one of the men came to own three stores of his own, while another became manager of a chain of stores in a neighboring state.
I think of a recent conversation with the head of a large Pacific Coast advertising agency, who for a number of years handled the sales promotion work for a well-known coffee manufacturer who had recently sold his business.
“If there was ever a man who used this stuff to tremendous advantage,” declared the advertising executive, “it was that old man. He came to this section as a kid and learned the coffee roasting and blending business. He concluded that he could do better if he were in business for himself. He thoroughly believed that he could blend the best coffee, and even up to the time of his retirement, after years in the business, he thoroughly believed that his coffee was the best on the market. Of course, that belief made the old man a millionaire.”
I once gave a printer a small manuscript that dealt with the subject we are now considering; I wanted to get it out in pamphlet form. The next morning he popped into my office, almost out of breath and visibly shaking. Naturally I asked if there were anything wrong. “Just had the oddest experience,” he spluttered. “I took your manuscript home last night and read it, and I said to myself, ‘If the stuff actually works as the author claims, then I ought to be able to find a parking space close to his office when I go to see him.’ I thought no more about it until I was driving from our plant to your office just a few minutes ago, and then the thought again occurred to me that it might work. Well, I turned the corner, and there wasn’t a space to be seen on Sixth Avenue, and I was going to dismiss it all as bunk. But as I slowed down to let some pedestrians pass, I saw a car pull away from the curb right in front of this building and there was my place. It gives me goose-pimples. Maybe it’s just one of those things.”
“Perhaps,” I said, “but why not try it again?” He did, and had similar results over a period of years.
Call them coincidences if you like. But this printer never would – especially when shortly afterward he was able to more than triple his business while most printers were having a difficult time getting any orders at all.
Now and then I told acquaintances about the printer’s experiences and was astounded to learn that others seemed able to find parking space as had this printer. One woman, a Unity student, told me that she and her sister never drove downtown without saying that they would find a parking space in or near a spot that they desired – and they always found one.
A woman, a dietician and instructor in a large hospital, said to me, “The working of this power, or whatever it is, often frightens me. As an illustration, this happens with continued frequency. Every morning on my way to work when I enter the business section, the traffic lights always turn green and I get through all of them without a stop. I cannot recall the time that the lights have shown red against me. Now I just take it all as a matter of course.”
A few months ago a woman was arrested for violating the traffic signals, but according to the newspaper stories at the time, she convinced the judge that the green light was on when she crossed the intersection. She was a motherly woman, and the judge freed her when she told him, “Judge, the light just had to be green, and it always is for me because I keep repeating as I near an intersection ‘Green light be on, green light be on.’ “
The police maintained, however, that there were no signals at this intersection – only the flashing intermittent red light. But here was the motherly old lady convincing the judge of her belief! Obviously she believed in her ability to have the signals the way she wanted them.
A woman told me of driving cross-country from Washington, D.C., to join her husband who had been assigned to duty in a Pacific Coast city. “I was frightened in the beginning,” she said. “I had never driven any such distance alone in my life. One day I got to thinking of my grandmother who had been one of the pioneers to the Pacific Northwest and who had done many things alone. My fear was gone at once. However, the garage man who looked over my car before I started told me not to go without getting new tires; he said the old ones would blow out any time. If I hadn’t been so intent on making the trip and without delay, I might have listened to him; but the thought again came to me that they would last until I got across the country – and last they did. While I do not use the car much now, the original tires are still there, though in pretty bad shape. But no blowouts ever occurred.”
Another case that reinforces my contention involves an oil refining company and more than a million dollars of investors’ money. In its early days, the company experienced great financial difficulties brought on by suits and marketing problems. It became necessary to reorganize the whole financial structure, with the stockholders taking new securities but forgoing interest for a number of years. The stockholders were told to make a mental picture of the oil turning into money and coming from every still and every spigot – in short, to visualize the company as a money-maker. Incidentally, this company was in a field dominated by strongly entrenched major companies. Nevertheless, not only did the company become a substantial money-maker, but it was subsequently sold, and all the security holders got back their money with interest in full.
Jimmy Gribbo, once well-known to sports fans as a manager of prizefighters, made winners out of many boxers by teaching them how to visualize themselves as winners – and they became winners.
I realize that some readers, especially those who know nothing about Mind Stuff, will question these stories. But those who related them are of undoubted veracity, and I believe that many of my readers could relate much stranger tales from their own experiences. G. N. M. Tyrrell, the well-known English investigator and writer, declared that if, while dwelling upon the activity of the subconscious mind, we determine upon an intention to do a certain thing, we may subconsciously initiate a train of events likely to bring this thing about. Dr. Shailer Mathews, long associated with the University of Chicago, stated “that we influence events by very great desires, and there is psychological proof on ourselves of the effects of our desires.”
Here are two cases in point:
A woman who ran a large antique shop was a recognized authority whose advice concerning antiques was much sought after by other women. But she happened to dislike social activities and was constantly bothered by a woman who kept inviting her to luncheons and teas. This second woman merely wanted to be seen in the company of this renowned authority – who, however, kept declining her. Then a woman’s club scheduled a well-known lecturer to talk, and under the second woman’s insistent pleas, the head of the antique shop finally agreed to go with her.
“She caught me in an off moment,” she told me, “and no sooner had I agreed than I began to regret having made the promise to go. The woman and I had nothing in common. As a matter of fact, she bored me. I hate those would-be highbrow affairs, and I was certain this was going to be one. At night I would actually have cold sweats thinking about what I had done and how I could get out of going without offending the woman – who was a fairly good customer of the store, and who, incidentally, I knew would have a lot of mean things to say about me should I fail to keep my agreement.
“I thought about it and thought about it, figuring on making up excuse after excuse – none of which seemed good enough or plausible. I was nearly beside myself. The day of the meeting was drawing near, and I had about decided to phone her, telling her that an important engagement had come up making it impossible to attend the lecture, when in she came.
“She was all apologies when she informed me that the lecture had been canceled. Did I draw a sigh of relief? I thoroughly believe in what you preach and I think that my thought had something to do with what happened. I know that some will say it was a coincidence – let them call it that if they please. But stranger things than that happen, and they’re not all coincidences.”
The second story involves the manager of a company manufacturing a hay fever remedy. He had recently arrived in town, found an apartment near his office, and sought a telephone for his apartment. At that time, just after the war, the telephone company had a long waiting list and was installing priority telephones only for doctors, police, fire officials, and those engaged in public emergency work.
For two months he tried to get a telephone, seeking out everyone he could to help him. Through a mutual friend, he learned that I knew the manager of the phone company and he came to see me. I quickly disillusioned him of the idea that I could persuade the manager to give him a telephone ahead of several thousand others but I did tell him that he shouldn’t have any trouble if he could establish his rights to a priority.
I asked him whom he had talked with, and he gave me the names of several people in major and minor positions with the company. Then he explained that it was imperative that he have a telephone, for he was the only one connected with his own company who could handle after-office-hour business.
“Do you have many long-distance calls?” I asked. “And how much does your company telephone business amount to a month?” He gave me an unusually high figure for his monthly bills. “Take your last few months’ bills with you and see the man you saw first, look him straight in the eye and tell him that you’ve just got to have a telephone without delay,” I told him, “but don’t go near him until you can convince yourself that you can convince him. Otherwise, your task is futile. You’ve just got to make up your mind that you’re going to have a telephone installed in your apartment, and you must believe it.”
“I’ll try it,” he said, then quickly catching himself said, “No, I’ll do it. I’ll get that telephone.”
He came to see me several days later. “It certainly worked. I must tell you about this, for it’s very funny how a positive thought brings about such a series of happenings. I went to see the man I had first talked with, and he was rather amazed that I had come back to him. This time I explained in detail why it was imperative that I have a phone and showed him the bills as you suggested. It was only a matter of minutes before I had him convinced. He was just about to call the manager to plead my cause when, lo and behold, the manager called him on some other matter. Then this man told my troubles to the manager who agreed I was entitled to a priority. He suggested that I see someone in charge of priority ratings.
“I had never heard of this man and before that time had known nothing of the priority system. I told this man my story and a lot about our business, referring to the antihistamines we manufactured. I nearly collapsed when he told me that he was bothered by hay fever and had tried various remedies without results. From then on, it was a natural. It all gives me a sort of spooky feeling. How did it happen that the manager called the man I was talking with at that particular time, and how did it happen that the man with the final say-so was a hay fever victim and one I could help? From now on, send me the scoffers.”
Of course, we all know that our thoughts determine our carriage, our facial expression, our conversation, for what we are outwardly comes as the result of what we think habitually. Many women have improved their appearance by continuing to feel the delights of beauty, by thinking thoughts of the beautiful, by wearing stylish clothes, by adding things of beauty to their surroundings, by developing poise and easy carriage, and by constantly telling themselves that they are going to win out. You have seen in movie plays how a badly dressed, ordinary-looking girl can be transformed into a most attractive woman by beautiful clothes and the latest hair-do. You can do the same thing – and will speed up the process if you continue to hold the mental picture of your new self and never relax for a second.
Most people dread going to a dentist. It isn’t so much what happens as what the patients think will happen that brings on the jitters. Again we have thoughts creating conditions that we would go a long way to avoid. The American Weekly of July 7,1940 told of a children’s dentist in Pittsburgh who fixed up a playroom adjoining his operating room and fitted it up with toys, sandboxes, blocks, etc. The idea was to get the children interested in playing and get their thoughts off the coming work on their teeth. Once in the chair, the children were encouraged to talk about anything but their teeth. The dentist even attached a button switch to his electric drill line that the children themselves could turn on and off, and assured them before he started work that they could turn off the current at the slightest indication of pain. His practice was enormous.
A barber who has built up a large clientèle among small children has on his stands numerous well-illustrated, children’s books, which he puts in his little patrons’ hands as he places them in his chair.
He gets them interested in the pictures before he starts cutting their hair. “Once in a while it doesn’t work,” he said, “especially if the child hasn’t been taught to look at pictures. Then I have to bring out the mechanical toys, such as those that utter throaty sounds or squeaks when they are squeezed.
But the trick is to get the kids to forget about their hair being cut. Once that is done, I have no trouble.”
Imagination or mental picture-making can often produce queer results. Fear is basically an imaginary factor, as millions of men who went through the war will testify. You suddenly receive a telegram, and before you open the envelope, you fear you’ll hear bad news – and you promptly get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. The news may be good, but for the moment you are shaken with fear, and only the good news relieves you of that nervousness. The story is often told of a man who got the only room left in a hotel. It was ordinarily a storage room, but when the hotel was crowded, it doubled as a bedroom. During the night, the man complained of lack of air. On arising, he groped through the dark to what he thought was the window. He couldn’t open it, and, after finding a shoe, knocked out the pane of glass. Then he slept comfortably the rest of the night, only to discover at dawn that the window was still intact. What he had smashed was the glass door to a closet! During World War II, Margaretta West related a somewhat similar story in This Week. Returning on a troopship from the South Pacific, she found herself packed into a cabin with seventeen other women. Because of the black-out rules, the portholes had been closed, and the cabin was stifling.
Inasmuch as the ship was not sailing until morning, permission was granted to open the portholes after everyone was in bed. Miss West tells how she undertook to open the portholes and how everyone was pleased that they could then sleep. And sleep they all did. But on awakening in the morning, they found that Miss West had opened only the inner portholes. The outer ones remained closed, shutting out both light and air during the night.
During food rationing, thousands of people ate margarine in the home of friends, thinking it to be butter. During Prohibition days, it was a common practice to pour moonshine whiskey into bottles with apparently genuine labels, and many did not know the difference. Sometimes the lowly carp has been served as red snapper, without any gourmet being the wiser.
In countless ways science has proved the effects of the workings of the imagination. Postage stamps have been placed on the skin of patients who believed that they were small mustard plasters; blisters developed under the stamps. By ringing a bell when he offered food to dogs, the Russian scientist Pavlov soon had the animals associating the bell with the thought of food, and it was only a short time before the mere ringing of the bell caused their stomachs to secrete digestive juices. Sit at a restaurant counter and notice an enticing dish placed before your neighbor. At once you become hungry and your mouth begins to water.
The peeling of onions often causes tears to flow from the person doing the peeling. Yet the mere sight of an onion being peeled by another person several feet away – and with no odor permeating the air – can bring tears to the eyes of others in the room. Some people cannot eat warmed-up leftovers, declaring that they make them sick. Undoubtedly, some spoiled leftovers eaten years before did upset their stomachs, and the mental picture never left them. Others claim that they must take soda after every meal to help them digest their food – which medical authorities say is often merely the working of their imaginations. A sudden emotional shock under the pressure of your imagination will cause your skin to turn cold and may even be followed by alternate sweats and chills. When your imagination goes to work, something your physician has told you can have a terrifying effect.
I have crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans several times and have never been seasick, even in the most severe storms and violent pitchings and rollings of the ship – except once; and that was when I had to help another passenger who was violently ill. However, early in my travelings I learned to look away from those who were seasick, realizing that a suggestive force could make me run for the rail.
Try sucking a lemon when a friend near you is whistling. The mere sight of it will stop him, and all because the thought of the sour lemon puckers up his mouth and makes whistling impossible.
While lecturing, in order to prove the power of the imagination, I would often hold up two small atomizers containing different colored fluids. I would tell my audience that one contained lilac perfume and the other attar of roses, explaining that my experiment would determine the difference in my listeners’ perceptive powers. I would then turn my back on the audience so that they could not see which atomizer I was spraying into the air. At the same time, I called upon them to identify the odor. Some would say lilac, others attar of roses. Of course, there was always great chagrin when these two groups discovered that their imaginations had led them astray, and that both atomizers contained nothing but colored-odorless-water.
In his little essay, Concerning Tobacco, Mark Twain (who had the reputation of smoking the worst cigars) says that a man thinks he can tell what he regards as a good cigar from what he regards as a bad one – but he can’t. He goes by the brand, yet imagines he goes by the flavor. Twain tells how he borrowed from a wealthy friend a double handful of forty-cent cigars bearing red-and-gold bands that signified their quality. Twain removed the bands and put the now unbranded cigars into his own box. He passed them out to friends at the end of a dinner. Believing them to be the cheap cigars that Twain smoked, his friends all tossed them away after two or three whiffs.
Unquestionably, there is a difference in the taste of even domestic cigars and cigarettes, but the imagination plays an important part in determining it.
When you realize that inventors, artists, scientists, architects, and builders of great companies all must employ their imagination, you get some idea of its magnitude. Shakespeare said, “Assume a virtue if you have it not.” Let’s follow some of the implications of this great advice. In assuming a virtue, you are assuming it via your imagination. To become the person you would like to be, you must create a mental picture of your newly conceived self, and if you continue to hold it, the day will come when you are that person in reality. So it is with the accomplishment of desires.
But here we must make a distinction between daydreaming and a true mental picture – the proper use of the imagination. Perhaps some genie will drop $100,000 into your lap or provide you with a luxuriously furnished mansion overnight, but I have never had the pleasure of meeting one.
Daydreaming or mere undirected wishful thinking doesn’t have the power to release the latent forces within you that will bring you one hundred thousand dollars or a mansion.
When you employ your imagination properly, you see yourself doing a thing, and then you go ahead and do it. Doing the thing you have pictured to yourself brings it into actual existence. In this connection, think about the use of a magnifying glass. When properly focused, it will gather and concentrate the light from the sun to burn a hole in the paper upon which the rays are focused. It must be held steady before the heat builds up. So it is with your images or mental pictures.
Dr. Emile Coué, the French doctor who threw so much light on the power of suggestion, declared that imagination was a much stronger force than will-power. When the two are in conflict, he said, the imagination always wins. For example, let’s say you are an inveterate smoker of good cigars and decide to break yourself of the habit. You grit your teeth, shove out your chin, and solemnly declare that you are going to use your will-power to quit for good. Then suddenly comes the idea of the taste of a good cigar, its aroma and soothing effects – your imagination goes to work and out the window goes your resolution to break the bad habits.
Charles Fourier, the early 19th-century French philosopher, declared that the world’s future would grow out of the brain of man and be shaped, controlled, and directed by the desires and passions by which men are moved. His prophecy is coming true, yet man has barely begun shaping and controlling the world through his mind.
All of this brings us to the topic of desire and what you actually want in life. Comparatively few people have really great desires. Most are content to go along filling the tiny niches in which they find themselves. They accept their positions in life as something that fate has fixed for them, and very seldom do they make either a mental or physical effort to extract themselves from those positions.
They never raise their sights or realize that it’s just as easy to shoot at a bird on a limb thirty feet above the ground as it is to shoot at the ground the same distance away. Many engage in wishful thinking – which by itself is without effect simply because the power factor is missing.
But when you run across a person who is really going to town – and there are many – you realize that his desire projects the greater power behind it all. The way seems easy for those people, and to a great degree it is, because they are putting to use the powers of their subconscious minds – which in turn magnetize, co-ordinate and then transmit to their conscious minds electrifying visions of what they most desire.
So be reminded: whatever you fix your thoughts upon or steadily focus your imagination upon, that is what you attract. This is no mere figure of speech, but a fact that anyone can prove to his own satisfaction. Whether the results come through magnetic, electrical, or some other energy is still undetermined. But while man hasn’t been able to define thought-attraction, its manifestations can be seen on every hand. It is like the electrical field itself – we do not know exactly what electricity is, although we know how to generate it through various material kinds of energy-producing apparatus; we see electricity manifest every time we turn on a light or snap a switch.
However, it is very difficult for the average person to concentrate for any length of time, to say nothing of holding a mental picture for any great period. You will find that countless thoughts, ideas, fantasies will ebb and flow through your mind with astonishing rapidity. You are constantly being swayed by what you read, see, and hear, and as a result, the co-ordinating part of this creative force gathers all these scattered elements together in a confused mass, instead of making a clear and dynamic picture of your desire.
That brings us to a system of mechanics by which anyone can focus thoughts so that they will penetrate to the deepest depths of the subconscious mind.
I have been in the private offices of a great many industrial leaders, business men, and bankers.
And long before I understood this science of belief, I was impressed with the pictures, photographs, slogans, and bits of statuary to be found in the inner sanctums of great firms. In the office of the head of a great utility concern hung photographs of the industry’s early leaders. In another office were pictures of the great financiers of history. In some there were busts of Napoleon, in others, little shrines or good-sized statues of Buddha. I saw offices where there hung on the walls such slogans as “We do the impossible – any place, any time”, “If it can be done, we can do it”, “Do it now”, “Be a self-starter – don’t wait to be cranked.” It is reported that the private office of F. W. Woolworth, who became known as the Napoleon of business, was a replica of Napoleon’s study. Undoubtedly many of you have seen or heard of such displays. But has it ever occurred to you what their purpose was?
There can be only one answer: that they serve as a constant reminder – getting the picture across to the occupant of the room that he can succeed as did those before him. Every time he looks around the room, a motto or a slogan meets his gaze. He sees the eyes of Napoleon upon him when he sits at his desk; he feels a touch of the spiritual as he gazes at the little shrine. In other words, executives use a form of mechanics to excite their imaginations – pictures to inspire them, or a series of suggesting forces that reach their subconscious minds. In the offices of many doctors (including some who would scoff at the great power of suggestion) hang the photographs of great men of medicine or famous teachers in medical schools. I have often wondered if the doctors realized the underlying power of these portraits.
When you realize that the subconscious works accurately to externalize whatever suggestion is most greatly impressed upon it, you then understand the necessity for concentrating and for constantly repeating one single suggestion.
Like other great men, Thomas A. Edison obviously knew the value of the repeated suggestion and made use of it. As part of the ceremonies celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the inventor’s birth, his desk, sealed at his death, was opened on February 8,1947. Conspicuous among the articles found in it was a piece of paper which bore the legend, “When down in the mouth, remember Jonah. He came out all right,” Edison must have thought well of that expression and perhaps reflected much upon it, or else he would not have kept it on his desk before him.
Often I have likened this matter of desire and suggestion to the planting of vegetable or flower seeds. Once the soil is prepared and the tiny seeds are placed in it, it is only a short time before they put forth roots and sprouts begin to appear. They are determined to emerge from the ground.
When they start upward through the soil in search of sunshine and moisture, obstacles mean nothing to them. If they can’t push aside stones or bits of wood, they’ll extend themselves and grow around them. They succeed, blossom, and give forth fruit, vegetables, or flowers unless some greater force destroys them. While we are not aware of the details of nature’s secrets, we observe the seed buried for a long time in the dark, gradually expanding and exerting itself until it becomes a thing of beauty or usefulness. Cultivate it, attend it, give it sunshine and water, and it grows into full life. Remember it always produces after its kind, be it single or hybrid.
So it is with the suggestions you impart to your subconscious mind. The results will be pure or complex, depending upon the original seed and the attention you give it. In other words, plant the right kind of thought – of a pure strain – and habitually feed it with strong affirmative thought always directed toward the same end, and it will grow into a mighty force, finding ways and means of overcoming all obstacles. Its roots will reach forth to find more terrain on which to grow and expand its foliage to gather more illumination.
It was desire that brought progress to the world. Without it, we all would still be living in the Stone Age. Everything we have in our modern world is the result of desire. Indeed, desire is the motivating force of life itself. You see it all around you – in the animal kingdom, in all forms of plant life, and in all acts and operations of human beings. Hunger promotes a desire for food, poverty a desire for riches, cold a desire for warmth, inconvenience a desire for ease and efficiency.
Desire is the generating power of all human action, and without it no one can get very far. The keener, the more urgent the desire, the sooner its consummation. It marks the difference between the uneducated ditch-digger and the person of accomplishment, between the clerk and the executive, between the failure and the success. So you must always start with desire. Keep in mind that by the magic of believing, you can obtain what you picture in your mind’s eye. The mechanics are there only to help you focus your desire-picture sharply on the screen of your subconscious mind, and let you shut out all distracting thoughts, negative ideas, or any fear or doubt projections that might otherwise penetrate to your subconscious.
So let’s get down to the mechanics!
Secure three or four index cards. (Ordinary business-size cards will do.) Go to your office, your home, your room, or any other place where you can have privacy. Sit down and ask yourself what one thing you desire above everything else. When the answer comes and you are certain that it is your uppermost desire, then at the top of one card write a word picture of it. One or two words may be sufficient – “a job,” “a better job,” “more money,” or “home of my own.”
Then on each card duplicate the word picture on the original. Carry one in your billfold or handbag, place another alongside your bed or fasten it to your bedstead. Prop another on your shaving mirror or dressing table, and still another on your desk. If you bear in mind successful executives’ custom of keeping in their offices pictures, mottoes, slogans, busts, and statues, you will appreciate that in using the cards you are utilizing the same forces, only in much more concentrated form. The whole idea, as you may have guessed, is to make you see the mental picture at all hours of the day. Just before going to sleep at night and upon waking in the mornings, concentrate upon your thoughts with added force. But don’t stop with merely those two periods of the twenty-four hours. The more often you visualize your desire by this method (or by one of your own devising), the speedier its materialization will be.
At the start, you may have no idea of how the results are to come. Yet you need not concern yourself. Just leave it to the subconscious mind, which has its own ways of making contacts and of opening doors and avenues that you may have never even guessed at. You will receive assistance from the most unexpected sources. Ideas useful in accomplishing your program will come at most unexpected times. You may be suddenly struck with the idea of calling a person you have not heard from for a long time, or writing to someone you have never seen before. You may get the impulse to read the newspaper or listen to the radio. Whatever the idea is, follow it.
Many successful people get ideas during the night that are immediately transcribed to a pad so they will not be lost. For many years before I thoroughly understood this science, I was associated with an executive who, after reaching his desk in the morning, would begin pulling notes out of his pocket. In a few minutes things would begin to hum. These notes might contain comments on various advertising media, an outline of a sales campaign, new purchases, or a rearrangement of the sales organization; but all of them contributed to the success of his operations. Keep a pad and pencil on a stand near your bed, and if ideas come during the night, note them down so that you won’t forget them in the morning.
I recall the time when I put this science to work in order to save the firm of which I was then vice-president. All of the employees sat around in a half-circle, and as I began my remarks, I asked each man to provide himself with paper and pencil. Most of them thought that I wanted them to take notes. But there was considerable surprise when I told them to write down what they most wanted in life. I explained that if they would do this, I would point out the way to obtain it.
Two or three of the younger men laughed, but the older men, realizing that I was deadly earnest, did as I suggested. To the younger men I said simply: “If you want to hold on to your jobs, you’ll do as I ask. For if this stuff doesn’t work, we’ll all be out on the street.” They complied. I told them to show no one what they had written.
After the meeting, one of the younger men came to me to apologize for having laughed.
“That’s all right, Bob,” I told him.
“But it sounded so silly at first,” he explained. “Imagine me getting a new automobile by simply writing it down. But after you explained the science of it all, I guess it does make sense.”
Several years later, this chap came to my home and said he wanted to show me something. There along the curb was parked his expensive new automobile.
In the years that followed, I found opportunities to ask those who attended that meeting if they had obtained what they had written down. Without exception, every man had. One had wanted a wife of a certain nationality. He got her, and there are two fine boys in the family. Another put down the figures of a very sizable fortune. He got it. Another man wanted a beach cottage, another a better home, and so on. Steadily through the years every one of these men has constantly made money, many of them averaging monthly more than they had ever made before in their lives, much to the astonishment of many others in the same line of business.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that you should tell no one just what the words on the cards mean nor give anyone an inkling of what you desire. To do so may end disastrously for you. When you get a better understanding of this science, you can understand how thought vibrations – conscious or unconscious, because of envy or some other cause – can be set up to counteract your own.
To illustrate this, I am reminded of a doctor friend who applied for a commission in the Navy during the early days of World War II. He closed his office, told everyone that he was joining the Navy, and found himself the recipient of many parties and gifts. “It taught me a lesson never to tell anyone of my plans or desires,” he laughingly told me later. “It was two years before I received notice of assignment, and meanwhile I had to go back into private practice. It certainly was embarrassing to get all those various farewell gifts, only to cool my heels at home for two years.”
The truth is that when you talk about what you’re going to do, you scatter your forces. You lose your close connection with the subconscious, and unless you do as directed here, you will frequently have to start all over again in your program of achievement.
“Go and tell no man” still holds true.
My readers will recall what I said before about Mumbo Jumbo, chants, incantations and affirmations. By engaging in them, you put the suggestive forces to work to stimulate your subconscious.
These repetitive words and phrases, said silently or aloud, are merely methods of convincing the subconscious mind – for auto-suggestion, no matter what the form, is the only way of molding its pattern. The subconscious is extremely receptive, and it can be convinced of whatever propositions you present to it. Be they true or false, positive or negative, once they are embedded in the subconscious mind, it goes to work with all of its faculties and energies to materialize them in real life. The simpler the words to express the ideas you wish conveyed to the subconscious, the better.
For example, if you are unhappy, use the words, “I am happy.” You don’t need the cards for this.
Just repeat them to yourself twenty or thirty times. “I am strong,” “I am happy,” “I am convincing,” “I am friendly,” “Everything is fine” are a few simple affirmations you can use to change your mental point of view for the better. But if the effects are to be permanent, you must continue the affirmations until the desired results are obtained.
Through repetition, the person with a fixed goal, a clear picture of their desire, or ideal always before them causes it to be buried deeply in their subconscious mind and thus – thanks to its generative and sustaining power – realizes their goal in a minimum of time and with a minimum of physical effort. Just pursue the thought unceasingly. Step by step you will achieve realization, for all your faculties and powers become directed to that end.
Suppose you want a better job or a promotion. Not only use the cards, but keep telling yourself constantly and continuously that you are going to get that job. You have already visualized it if you have accepted this science, but the repetition will be the means of driving the suggestion deeply and firmly into your subconscious mind. This may be compared to driving a nail into a board. The first tap puts the nail in place, but only by a number of heavy blows is the nail driven home. Never forget that the subconscious mind will accept and carry out whatever it is powerfully instructed to do. A great example of power developed by repetition is the story of Milo and the calf. Every day he lifted the calf, until the day came when he was lifting a full-grown bull.
Think of all of this in terms of the so-called material things. You know that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Your mind can be compared to that space: you can’t have very many negative thoughts or doubts if you keep your mind filled with positive, powerful, and creative thoughts. Consider your mind a room with a single door, and you have the only key. It rests with you to decide what is to come through the door – that is, whether you are dominated by positive or negative thoughts, and which ones you are going to admit – for your subconscious mind will respond to the vibrations of the thoughts that are strongest in you.
Alternately, compare your mind to a tank filled to the brim with clear, pure water. You cannot put any object into that tank without displacing some of the water and causing the tank to overflow. When you permit negative thoughts of doubt or fear to enter your consciousness, obviously some of your forceful, positive, creative thoughts will have to give way, and consequently you weaken your positive state. Thus, as long as you do not accept unfavorable vibrations, your subconscious mind will not be hindered by anything you may hear, see, or experience. In other words, you must keep your subconscious mind fed at all times with positive thoughts so mat their strong vibrations will ward off all negative and destructive thoughts from the outside.
For years philosophers have taught that if we are to be happy, we must be busy working or doing something that holds our attention. Freud claimed that happiness arises from only two abilities – being able to work, and to love. The explanation is that when we concentrate on some pleasant task or individual, our minds are no longer open to roving and undesirable vibrations. That is why many doctors advise business and professional men to take up hobbies to divert their minds from thoughts of worry and trouble. Others advise trips, new scenes, new personal associations away from the too-familiar places where it is difficult to escape from disturbing thought vibrations and associations.
I once knew an elderly couple who lost their only son in the Normandy invasion. For months after receiving news of the boy’s death, the couple kept his room intact just as it was when he left. On Sundays they would spend hours rearranging the furniture and fondly handling his belongings.
With minds so constantly occupied with the memories of their son, was it any wonder that they became embittered old people? I know what it means to lose loved ones, but I have also learned that it is necessary to close the door on yesterday and keep it closed. We live today, not yesterday.
As Edgar Allan Poe wrote in “The Premature Burial,” “There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume the semblance of a Hell . . . The grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful – but . . . they must sleep, or they will devour us – they must be suffered to slumber, or we perish.”
Now that you understand how circumstances, environments, and material objectives come into your life through thinking, it’s up to you to make your cherished dreams come true.
Suppose you want a new home. After you’ve got the first glimpse of the picture, start your affirmations going. Use any expressions you wish, or something like this: “I’m going to have that new home. I’m going to have that new home. I’m going to have that new home.” And one day, you will find the way, and the new home will be yours.
If you’re a salesman and want to increase your sales, use the cards, as already suggested. Tell yourself as frequently as possible that you are going to increase your sales. Do it with emphasis.
Strange as it may sound, we usually get what we anticipate. And if you anticipate increasing your sales and believe that you are going to do it, your sales will mount just as though some invisible friend were helping out. The idea of anticipation holds in everything we do.
One insurance man increased his business more than 200 per cent within a year after he began using this science: “The sales manager told me to call upon Mr. Blank and not come back to the office until I got an order out of him. This prospect was a hard nut to crack. Everyone knew he had the reputation of being very stubborn and cranky with little time for salesmen – to say nothing of us in the insurance business. However, I knew that he had lots of property and had to carry all sorts of fire and liability coverage. As I went down the stairs from our office and all the way up the street to this prospect’s office, I kept repeating to myself, ‘Fred, you’re going to sell him, you’re going to sell him. You’re going to find him a fine old fellow, no matter what anyone says. He’s going to be friendly and he’s going to accept what you have to offer.’ Maybe I repeated those ideas a couple of hundred times. Not only did he turn out to be very cordial, but I came away with an order for a $25,000 policy, the first our company had ever secured from the old man.”
Not long after, this insurance man left the agency he was connected with, opened a firm of his own, rapidly developed a country estate into a showplace, and told me that he was “fixed financially for life.”
Dale Carnegie has told of the great success of Howard Thurston, the magician. According to the story, before going out on the stage, Thurston would repeatedly tell himself that he loved his audience and that he was going to give them the best he had in him. He made two million dollars! Another man – at seventy-eight, he didn’t look more than sixty – was a profound student of this subject and used it to make a tremendous fortune for himself. His later interests were along other lines, but he declared that he still ordered his subconscious mind to get busy for him:
“I talk to it just as I might be talking to some individual to whom I was giving orders. And I never have any doubts or fears that it will not do as ordered. If I get an upset stomach, I simply tell it to be itself and act naturally; so with other ailments that arise. If I want to awaken at five o’clock in the morning without using an alarm clock, I peremptorily order my subconscious mind to awaken me. It has never failed in anything so far.
“I have long had a theory that the subconscious mind controls our age – what I mean is that for centuries the subconscious mind has been led to believe that a man should be old when he is sixty.
For most people who have accepted the thought, it can’t be otherwise, for that is what the subconscious mind believes. However, in my case I refuse to accept it and, as you know, I am as active as I was when I was fifty years old – and I expect to carry on for some years to come.”
All of which shows the advisability of not planting in your subconscious mind the idea that you are becoming old and incapable merely because the years are passing. It also shows that by keeping the subconscious free from the fixed idea of a decline, you improve your chances of prolonging your life far beyond the so-called allotted span.
Repetition is the fundamental rhythm of all progress, the cadence of the universe. It’s the chuff-chuff of the locomotive that pulls a train across the continent, it’s the repeated explosions that generate power in the internal combustion engine. The constant surging of the water against the turbine blades generates electrical power. The tap-tap of the hammer drives the nail into place. The deadly put-put of the machine gun mows down everything before it. Constant and determined effort breaks down all resistance, sweeps away all obstacles. The repeated auto- or hetero- suggestion makes you and others believe. The tap-tap of the same conscious thought causes it to be impressed upon your subconscious mind and on the subconscious minds of others.
Anyone can demonstrate the efficacy of the repeated suggestion, whether used constructively or destructively, but Professor Hugo Münsterberg, Harvard psychologist, throws considerable light on its value. He said, “The value of repetition must distinctly be understood in the relation of the inner-setting and the inner mental attitude.”
Before World War II there was in Paris a famous institute devoted to teaching suggestion by means of phonograph records played over and over again.
Listeners could hear any repeated suggestion they wanted – that they were in good health; that they had the power to overcome their difficulties; that they could receive help in other ways.
For years mothers have been taught to talk to their babies and small children while they were asleep, repeating suggestions that they were going to grow well and strong, develop good habits, and become good citizens. Since the children were asleep, the suggestions were obviously directed to their subconscious minds.
In the destruction of Carthage, the greatest maritime city of the ancient world, we have an instance of the power of the repeated suggestion at work. Convinced that Rome and Carthage could not both survive, Cato, the great Roman statesman, ended every speech in the Senate with the words, “Carthage must be destroyed!” He kept it up until the Romans were repeating in their sleep, “Carthage must be destroyed” – and Carthage was.
Many people become confused and frustrated because they let themselves be influenced by others’ negative thoughts. This is a weakness of many salesmen, when they absorb too much of what the prospect says about his reasons for not buying. Repetition of negative thoughts, if continued long enough, will discourage even the most powerful. Unless your mind is closed against them and you counteract them by constantly thinking and radiating positive thoughts, sooner or later you will find yourself sunk. Some people wear themselves out trying to combat negative forces by superhuman effort and sheer will power, never realizing that their own minds, operating in accordance with the suggestive influences, are causing all the trouble.
Whether we know it or not, we are all victims of suggestion – in many cases almost to the point of being hypnotized. We follow along a beaten path of living just because we’ve been doing it for decades. For years, houses, churches, office buildings, automobiles, buses, all followed a certain pattern. We wear certain styles of clothing, hold to certain customs, all because we have been led to believe – through the never-ending suggestive thoughts that come to us from all sides – that this is the thing to do. When someone adopts a new way of doing things, they are considered a crank or an eccentric. On close analysis, mass hypnosis can be seen operating in every human activity.
I have observed that those who consciously use this science (as well as those who may be using it unconsciously) are people of tremendous energies, virtually human dynamos. They not only use their imaginations and hold strong beliefs and convictions, but they are great doers in action. And that brings me to a most important statement: “Faith without action is dead.”
Unquestionably, there are people on this earth who – without moving from their offices or making any contacts, personal or otherwise, with other people – can achieve remarkable things by concentrated thought. But in the main, this so-called material world of ours is controlled by people of action – those great dynamos of energy who energize others. Nikola Tesla, who probably understood the laws of vibration better than any other man of his time, declared that with a machine that could be slipped into his pocket, he could disintegrate the Empire State Building. (As a matter of fact, when Tesla was first experimenting with a somewhat similar bit of apparatus during the eighteen-nineties, it did cause buildings to shake, windows to break and furniture to move in lower New York.) That machine came out of Tesla’s mind. His thoughts created it. There is an example of a man who coupled his “faith with action.”
Some metaphysicians and teachers of the occult claim that a person can sit in their own office and visualize orders pouring on to their desk – and the orders will quickly materialize. But to accomplish this, the mental picture or thought projection must be definite and unwavering, and that requires great practice and concentration. Stranger things have been recorded, but for the person who has not yet developed this mind-power, it is well to add action and energy to one’s efforts by doing the things, following out the ideas, and making the contacts dictated by the subconscious mind.
Many years ago I read that Franklin D. Roosevelt constantly made use of his subconscious mind, and I am certain that he knew much about the use of the repeated suggestion. He never looked backward, but always forward – “yesterday” was a closed book. On April 17,1945, five days after F.D.R.’s death, Kirke L. Simpson – an Associated Press Staff Writer and an intimate of the late President – told of a party given Roosevelt after he had been stricken with infantile paralysis.
Roosevelt was determined to walk again, somehow, anyhow, without crutches. According to Mr. Simpson, his intimates decided to give him a cane as a token that they too expected him to walk again, and after it was presented, F.D.R. sat all evening with the cane cuddled against his shoulder.
Simpson said that he would reach up to pat its crook now and then, and “we knew that he was saying to himself, ‘You’ll walk again, Frank Roosevelt; you will walk again!'”
Roosevelt firmly believed in the power of believing. An article in Time Magazine for March 4,1946 told of a letter he wrote in 1924 to a doctor seeking advice on the treatment of infantile paralysis. Mr. Roosevelt pointed out that he thought gentle exercise, massage, and sunbathing were essential. “But,” he added, “more important than most therapy is a belief on the patient’s part that he will eventually recover.” Here we have a wonderful example of the magic of believing at work, and of the part repeated suggestion plays in establishing belief.
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