Live Youthfully Now
Russell A. Kemp
Renew Your Life Motivation
Are you enjoying life? You should be, if you want to live a long time at the height of your mental and physical effectiveness. For permanent youthfulness means just this: to be able to live with keen enjoyment of every day and every experience that the day brings. It means having the hopeful, optimistic, “yeasty” feeling of your teens, the natural vitality, the fearlessness and willingness to adventure that is felt in one’s twenties, with the happy certainty that one will live forever that we all knew at this period of life.
To remember vividly the time when we felt this way is a powerful incentive to putting forth the necessary mental and physical effort involved in doing the things necessary to repain youthful enjoyment ol life. And if we want to slough off the weight of the years, we need plenty of incentive to persist in our endeavors.
There isn’t any magical drug, or vitamin pill, or secret combination of words, or six-second exercise that will effortlessly banish the effects of the race belief in time and restore to us the physical condition of youth. We have believed in old age as inevitable for countless centuries. We now have the bad habit of believing in the creeping onslaught of old age, and as the French say, “There is nothing more habit-forming than habit.”
The only way to uproot a bad habit is to form a good habit, which is its opposite. If we really want to be renewed in mind and body and regain the youthfulness that makes life a joy, we must form new habits of thinking and new ways of living which will bring to the surface the spiritual youthfulness imprisoned within the cells and organs of our present body.
This is not to depreciate the discoveries made by devoted researchers in the realm of nutrition, the knowledge of the effect of vitamins on the body and the role they can fulfill in helping us to keep youthful. Inform yourself in these vital areas of knowledge, by all means. There are many fine books on these subjects. There is no doubt that a proper understanding of the part played by nutrition and the different vitamins, and a willingness to use this understanding in one’s diet, are absolutely necessary if we wish to attain permanent youthfulness.
Those who are enthusiastic on the subject of nutrition may insist that “right eating” is all that is necessary to keep you healthy and young, just as those who are enthusiastic about the power of mind will contend that all you need to stay young is to “know the Truth.” Still others are certain that exercise and care of the physical body are enough to guarantee youthfulness.
My own opinion, after many years of pursuing knowledge in all of these areas, is that all three are essential. I believe that a wise combination of diet and vital foods, spiritual thinking and living, plus consistent exercise, is required if we are to attain this “promised land” of perpetual youthfulness. The object of this book is not only to inform you of what you need to know, but also to motivate you to do the things you absolutely must do, if you desire to take advantage of the new discoveries in medicine, diet, and mental attitudes concerning youthfulness.
This thing called motivation is so important that we should discuss it before going any further. A motive is any need, any idea, any emotion or desire that causes you to act in response to it. The word motive is of course related to the word motion, which means “movement.” Motivation is your reason for putting forth effort to attain some desire or some goal. But in a better sense, motivation is the art or science of cultivating and sustaining in yourself those feelings and desires that move you to the effort necessary in attaining a chosen goal.
It is vitally important that we know how to motivate ourself to effort and industry in pursuing a chosen objective. Inertia seems to lurk near every ideal, every good desire, ready to pounce on us and ride us like Sinbad’s “Old Man of the Sea.” Its promptings are tempting; it is easy to succumb to the stealthy infiltration that would cause us to bog down in the pursuit of comfort and ease, the indulgence of well-worn habit tracks of postponement and avoidance of effort. What untold numbers of great dreams have been mired in inertia! How many great ideals have been lost in laziness and dissipated in daydreams!1
If you are human enough to want to renew your youth, you are also human enough to succumb to the natural inertia of human thinking, and let it reduce your desire to a mere “wanting to want” to be renewed. It is easy to read any book like this and get fired up with enthusiasm. It is also so easy to have that enthusiasm fade (and even disappear altogether) when you try to fit new ways of thinking, living, and exercising into your established routine. Inertia, the “stealthy down-drag” of drowsy, mesmerized human thought habits and instinctive reactions which we dignify by the name of “thinking,” holds all of us in its grip to an extent we seldom suspect. We can sympathize with the efforts to awaken and clarify the human mind by means of psychedelic drugs, when we see them as an attempt to free the mind from this numbing sleepiness and heaviness, this spell of thick-wittedness that seems to possess us as a species.
However, these drugs, while they may seem to enlarge or expand or liberate the mind, are said by competent medical opinion to be highly dangerous. They numb the faculty of judgment, that priceless quality of control which enables us to discriminate and choose. They make the sober processes of reason, the exercise of effort and industry in self-development, seem boring and repellent. If all one needs to soar into the ultimate expansion of mental powers is a speck of matter, why bother with anything else? Why indeed?
One good reason for not taking these drugs is the testimony of competent observers that the feeling of mental expansion, although it may, for instance, give one the feeling of having great artistic capacity, never leads to any actual artistic accomplishment. The mere enjoyment of the feeling of being able to accomplish great things satisfies the individual, so that he seldom attempts to do anything about it. Or when he does, his efforts, though they seem masterful to him and marvelous, are not equal to what he accomplished by himself, without the drug. The point is that the psychedelic drugs disorient the user’s capacity to make sound value judgments, so that he thinks the work is wonderful and the results of the drug are wonderful, when in fact the whole thing is disastrous. According to a medical bulletin issued by Harvard University, the effect of LSD was so detrimental that a student taking even one “trip” should not try to make any important value judgment for six months afterward.
Fortunately there are infinitely better ways of waking up the mind and escaping from the drowsy inertia characteristic of human thinking. There are certain mental qualities we can cultivate that will awaken ambition, stimulate and clarify the mentality, and subconsciously motivate us so strongly that we will know ourself to be moving with powerful tides of enthusiasm and inspiration to accomplish our goals.
Not only will these right mental qualities act on the mind to refresh and clarify it, but they are like a powerful tonic for the physical body as well. Take hope, for instance. It is usually considered to be a rather insubstantial tendency in man’s makeup which often deceives him, leads him to cherish illusions and live in expectations that have no solid foundation in either fact or future possibilities.
But this evaluation of hope is based on incorrect knowledge of its true nature. It is also based on man’s often disappointing experiences in attaining his hopes, because he knew neither their source nor how to sustain hope as a vital factor in accomplishment.
What we ordinarily know as hope is not the genuine thing at all. It is a faint, distorted glimpse of a powerful, vital force inherent in man’s mental and emotional makeup. Hope is really one of man’s little-known vital forces. The popular saying (which goes back at least to Cicero), “While there’s life, there’s hope,” would be closer to the truth if it were reversed to read, “While there’s hope, there’s life.” Another poet said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”
Why not, since hope is one of the essential elements that constitute man’s positive vital forces? The quality of hope causes man to expect some boon or benefit. If he only knew how intimately such a hope is part of his own nature, he would be aware that his hope is caused by the creativeness of life itself, not by some fancy of his own mind. Hope is not just a mental attribute that causes man to look for the attainment of his desires. Rightly understood, hope is one of the great motive forces of man’s soul.2 It is not a whim of our mind; it originates at a much deeper level than that, in the very nature of life itself.
A derivative from the original life force that animates man, hope has an inimitable quality in itself; it can confer the essential characteristics of the way a youth feels in the spring upon man’s body and mind. It is impossible to describe in words what the deliberate cultivation of hope as a mental or spiritual essence, and its assimilation into the body tissues, can do to man’s spirits. All of us have been young. All of us have known the joy of the coming of spring. Can we imagine capturing the very essence of both springtime and youth, and releasing it like a spiritual transfusion into the soul? That is what spiritual meditation on the quality called hope, and spiritual realization of it as an actual importation to the soul self, can do for both body and mind.
Who would debase his mind and body with so-called mind-expanding drugs (which in reality weaken his will to live and to grow through actual experience, in addition to disorienting his faculty of making right judgments), when he can experience the tingling thrill resulting from genuine, life-imparted hope? This thrill, unlike that gained from drugs, does not lead man to retreat from life by living in fantasies and kaleidoscopic visions which rob him of desire for real accomplishment. No, on the contrary, hope fires man with energy and triggers him to effort in making his hopes come true. It is important that we know this.
Mankind as a whole has entered upon the threshold of a new way of living. We are entering what may be known as the age of soul, of liberation of the psyche, of understanding of man as a soul which is earning to express itself by means of an instrument called a physical body.
Always heretofore, man has thought of himself as a sort of animal possessing higher mental powers than the other beasts. Or if he thought in religious terms, he spoke of “having a soul.” What this soul was, what part it played in life experience, how it was related to the body ... these things apparently were never considered. The soul was deemed to be of importance only in a “future life,” after death had occurred. No one ever seemed to consider that the soul, if it did exist, apparently was essential to the body’s being able to sustain life here and now. And yet, once the precious intangible force called life left the body, the body was nothing but inert matter. It was said that the soul had departed from it.
If there is such a thing as the soul, and if it departs from the body at death, then the soul and the life force that animates the living body must have a great deal in common. Someone has said, “Man does not have a soul, he is a soul.” And if man is a soul, then this soul is a vehicle formed by life itself, for the purpose of living by means of it. The poet Spenser knew this. He wrote:
“For of the soul the body form doth take;
For soul is form, and doth the body make.”
If you want your body to retain the desirable qualities of youth, you should learn by actual experience the power of such a soul force as hope to renew the body. It is a simple thing to do — that is, if you know something of meditation, and how to concentrate upon a selected thought. For instance, take this sentence: “The hope of my spirit is immortal youth.” Concentrate on this by repeating it quietly to yourself. Think of the quality of hope, of how closely it seems to be associated with life. Meditate quietly in this way on hope, and go even further: affirm prayerfully, “God’s Spirit is breathing the spirit of hope into my soul and body.” Do this very thoughtfully and prayerfully, to end your meditation. Be persistent in doing this every day for two weeks. Then see if your spirits are higher, if you feel more buoyant, more cheerful, if you have more confidence and energy. See whether or not you feel younger. A fair trial will convince you of the incredible power of hope to renew the body. Then you will have no difficulty in believing that man, through the conscious choice of his own mind, expressed in thoughts and words, can actually release a youthgiving tide of soul force into his body, and renew it day by day.
Another vital factor in keeping young is interest. Interest is the polar opposite of boredom. It is a known fact that people can die of sheer boredom. “What is there to live for?” they say. “I’ve seen this empty show called human life for sixty or seventy years. I’m tired of it.” So they begin to withdraw from active participation in life. Perhaps they start to live in the past, and complain that there is nothing new under the sun. This is their conscious or unconscious choice to stop living and start dying. They would be shocked if they were accused of wanting to die, but such an attitude is the “death wish” in action.
However, it could never take over the mind of one who was enthusiastic and interested in some aspect of self-improvement, who had inspired his soul with the secret elixir of youth called hope, and who had some goals toward which he was advancing. I think it was Aldous Huxley who said that there was nothing on the earth as satisfying as the pleasure of advancing, or even at times not advancing, toward some chosen objective.
Do you want to live with the enjoyment of life that you had when you were young? Remember these important words: Interest, enthusiasm, hope, and goal-directed activity keep you young.
How can you stir up more interest in living? There are countless ways. Perhaps you can begin with an affirmation, widely known in the Unity movement: “I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life.” If one takes these words into his mind, repeats them silently or audibly as befits the occasion, and tries sincerely to anticipate feeling alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life, it is impossible not to be infected by the idea these words express. There will be a response on the part of the inner self. It rests with us to accept even a slight feeling of being more alive, and to continue to develop it by more affirmation.
Another way to stir up more interest in life is to concentrate on whatever you are doing in order to do it with your full attention. A tremendous amount of psychic energy leaks away from us because we are not fully absorbed in what we are doing. We do things mechanically, unthinkingly, with our mind far off, the attention not placed anywhere or on anything but occupied in evading the experience of the moment. This weakens the personality and reduces our power to be effective when we really want (or need) to be effective.
One of the great Truth writers of the past century, Prentice Mulford, dwelt much on this theme, that as we increase our power of concentration we increase our energy and strengthen our personality. When we refuse to give our wholehearted attention to whatever we are doing at the moment and give it only a fraction of our attention, we are tacitly trying to escape from life. We are diffusing the power of our mind, wasting the psychic energy which if fully collected and employed would give us the keen enjoyment of experience that children possess.
“Can you tie three knots in a string” asks Mulford, “and give your full undivided attention to tying each one of these knots, and to nothing else, as you perform the act?” Then, “If you can do this, you have permanently increased by a little your power to be alive, to live effectively.” No one can force you to make such a simple experiment as this, but you can choose to try it. You can choose to do whatever it is you are doing by entering wholeheartedly into it. You can refuse to do it in your imagination before you actually do it. You can refrain from doing it over and over in your imagination after you do it.
We dissipate startling amounts of psychic energy-first by doing things mentally before we do them, then by refusing to become involved in the actual doing of them, and again by doing them over and over afterward in our imagination, trying to satisfy a secret sense of guilt for not fully giving ourself to the doing of them.
Thus the energy that would give us keen enjoyment of life is frittered away and wasted. Instead of satisfaction, daily life produces vague dissatisfaction, vague anxiety, secret guilt. All this is the result of allowing one’s mind to evade its natural mode of employment, which is giving full attention to whatever is being done or thought at the moment.
Why does the mind evade its responsibility in this way? It does not find the matter under consideration interesting, because it has been allowed to indulge in what it finds more pleasant and stimulating (that is, daydreaming and fantasy). However, a strong enough emotion or mood will at once enlist the mind’s interest. Enthusiasm is such a dynamic force that the ancients thought it resulted from having a god in oneself.
Can enthusiasm be cultivated by an effort of the will? Can it be simulated at first, until the pretended emotion becomes genuine?
Yes, this can be done. Try it yourself. Take some commonplace task, or better yet, something you have put off doing, and pretend that you are enthusiastically interested in doing it. Imagine yourself plunging into it with the greatest of interest. Affirm that you are enthusiastically and happily doing it. Then begin doing it, and try to sustain the mood. You will be amazed at the results. Enthusiasm can be assumed and acted out; it can be self-generated. Here is another interesting goal-directed activity to help you stay young. Cultivate and develop more and more enthusiasm for being young. Give your enthusiasm a focal point by centering it in this affirmation:
“I am keenly alive and joyously enthusiastic about keeping young.”
Remember that enthusiasm, interest in life, hope, and goal-directed activity keep you young. Have you some clearly defined goals in mind? Do you have target dates for attaining them? What kind of goals are they? Are they involved only with yourself, or are others connected with them? One goal might be to so demonstrate the power of these principles in restoring youth to your body and mind, that you could teach and demonstrate these methods to others. Seeking permanent youth purely for the restoration of sensual enjoyment of life may be self-defeating.
At the very heart and essence of these ideas and principles is the idea that you are first and foremost a mental, spiritual being. You are not an animal that thinks. You do appear to have much in common with the animals. You eat, drink, sleep, assimilate, and eliminate in the same way they do. You even perpetuate your own species in the same way they do. However, it is a grave error to say that you are entitled to act like an animal because you are like them in many respects. You are also unlike the animals in other, very important respects, and it is these unlikenesses that separate you forever from the animal kingdom. They also impose upon you responsibilities far different from those of the animals.
An animal is responsible only for being an animal. It cannot choose to be otherwise, since its intelligence is at all times instinctive and therefore conditioned to act within the limits of its own species.
Considered on the basis of his customary behavior as a species, man also might reasonably be accused of having only an instinctive, preconditioned intelligence which makes his behavior in any important area of life reasonably predictable. It seems that no matter how nobly he may talk of a higher way of life, including peace on earth, he relapses periodically into the stupidity of war and barbarism. So far, this must be admitted as factually evident.
But we make a serious mistake if we stop at what is factually evident when we are seeking to assess the true spiritual possibilities of man. The greater part of what really constitutes man is made up of the tantalizing intangibles that he exhibits. These take the form of aspirations to transcend all his factual performances, and the nobility, self-sacrifice, and heroism he often displays in what may be his worst moments.
How can we disregard the peaks of man s spiritual achievements and accept only the humdrum valleys of his ordinary experience, if we are honestly trying to establish his true potential? To do this is contrary to any scientific procedure. We must take into account all of man’s possibilities if we are to make an accurate appraisal of him.
It is not only the long record of semi-animal behavior, but the equally long record of spiritual aspiration and accomplishment that must be taken into account in the history of mankind. Just as a gold-bearing quartz outcrop on the side of a mountain testifies to the rich mine waiting to be developed far below, so do man’s continual aspirations, dreams, longings, and idealism testify to the riches of that kingdom that Jesus said was within us all.
The true reason, then, for seeking to cultivate permanent youthfulness in mind and body is to prove the fact that we are not an animal, but a living Spirit. This living Spirit is an ever evolving, growing soul in its relations with the natural world. It needs just such a body as we have in order to become aware of its God-given powers, to test them, try them out, and gain mastery of them through actual experience.
This living Spirit in us, being nonmaterial, is not subject to natural laws or laws of matter. People of most religious faiths believe that this higher or nonmaterial part of us is immortal, that it survives the death of the body. What we are beginning to see now is that if this immortal Spirit is given a body to use and live in, and if this body itself is a divine creation — which it has to be — then why should this body be considered inferior to the soul and Spirit which apparently form it and animate it?
Isn’t it possible that we have been making the mistake of trying to understand or evaluate this house of wonders we call a physical body by inadequate means? How can the senses, which are so restricted in their range, and the intellect, which is so inferior in speed, precision, and power, tell us the truth about our body? Could a blind man ever really be an astronomer? Could a deaf man ever enjoy a robin’s song in the spring?
One goal each of us might select is to really know ourself, know something of ourself from the inner spiritual standpoint. This is a logical correlative to the discovery of our inner power to stay truly young. Of course we have the goal of cultivating permanent youth.
Not, it is hoped, for the mere physical benefits alone, though they are highly rewarding. Not so we can boast about the number of years we have lived, though this can be pleasing to the ego. But rather for the sake of learning to live from a higher level than the unthinking multitudes who, blindly and unhappily following the footsteps of their grandfathers, walk the way of age and time.
No more pertinent question could be asked than this: When you find the youth of soul and body you are cultivating, what do you plan to do with it? When you find it, you are going to face the fact that it is divine in nature and origin. Let us remember that life knows how to safeguard its essential divinity and protect it from purely selfish exploitation for mere physical gratification.
The nearer you come to the inner Secret, the more softly you should walk. Pray for wisdom.
“Father of my whole being, give me wisdom to use wisely the new life in soul and body as I find it. May I walk the way of life, and help others to discover it. Amen.
According to the Monterey Herald, Third Mate Leon W. Blachutta has returned to active duty at sea after seven years of retirement. By his example of supervising the loading of supplies for troops abroad he hopes to inspire others, and so relieve the shortage of crewmen. Blachutta is eighty years of age. He looks fit and well.
A number of years ago in Nova Scotia, Silas McLellan, a farmer, ran down strayed cattle on foot. At the age of fifty-six, Silas could run fifty miles as easily as some people walk a mile. He said that he didn’t get warmed up in less than twenty-five miles, and was just getting his bearings at forty miles. Sometimes he ran down deer on foot, running from dawn to dusk.
In Amherst, Massachusetts, some years ago, Mrs. Lois Mitchell resumed horseback riding at the age of ninety-four. She rode a horse for the first time in seventy years, and loved it, but complained that the animal didn’t have much spirit. “I had to whip him to make him trot,” she said. Mrs. Mitchell preferred bicycling to horseback riding, because, as she said, I can put more vim into it.”
- Jung speaks of man’s greatest passion, “idleness.”
- “You see, hope is a very basic human strength, without which we couldn’t stay alive, and not something invented by theologians and philosophers.” — Dialogue with Erik Erikson, Richard I. Evans; New York, Harper and Row.