I have gout, asthma, and seven other maladies, but am otherwise
The inborn geniality of some people amounts to genius.
This one sits shivering in fortune’s smile,
Taking his joy with bated, doubtful breath;
This other, gnawed by hunger, all the while
Laughs in the teeth of death.
–T. B. ALDRICH.
There is no real life but cheerful life.
Next to the virtue, the fun in this world is what we can least
Joy in one’s work is the consummate tool.
Joy is the mainspring in the whole
Of endless Natures calm rotation.
Joy moves the dazzling wheels that roll
In the great timepiece of Creation.
“He is as stiff as a poker,” said a friend of a man who could never be coaxed or tempted to smile. “Stiff as a poker,” exclaimed another, “why he would set an example to a poker.”
Even Christians are not celebrated for entering into the _joy_ of their Lord.
We are told that “Pascal would not permit himself to be conscious of the relish of his food; he prohibited all seasonings and spices, however much he might wish for and need them; and he actually died because he forced his diseased stomach to receive at each meal a certain amount of aliment, neither more nor less, whatever might be his appetite at the time, or his utter want of appetite. He wore a girdle armed with iron spikes, which he was accustomed to drive in upon his body (his fleshless ribs) as often as he thought himself in need of such admonition. He was annoyed and offended if any in his hearing might chance to say that they had just seen a beautiful woman. He rebuked a mother who permitted her own children to give her their kisses. Toward a loving sister, who devoted herself to his comfort, he assumed an artificial harshness of manner for the _express purpose_, as he acknowledged, of revolting her sisterly affection.”
And all this sprung from the simple principle that earthly enjoyment was inconsistent with religion.
We should fight against every influence which tends to depress the mind, as we would against a temptation to crime. A depressed mind prevents the free action of the diaphragm and the expansion of the chest. It stops the secretions of the body, interferes with the circulation of the blood in the brain, and deranges the entire functions of the body. Scrofula and consumption often follow protracted depressions of mind. That “fatal murmur” which is heard in the upper lobes of the lungs in the first stages of consumption, often follows depressed spirits after some great misfortune or sorrow. Victims of suicide are almost always in a depressed state from exhausted vitality, loss of nervous energy, dyspepsia, worry, anxiety, trouble, or grief.
“Mirth is God’s medicine,” says a wise writer; “everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety–all the rust of life, ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth.” It is better than emery. Every man ought to rub himself with it. A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs, in which one is caused disagreeably to jolt by every pebble over which it runs. A man with mirth is like a chariot with springs, in which one can ride over the roughest roads and scarcely feel anything but a pleasant rocking motion.
“I have told you,” said Southey, “of the Spaniard who always put on spectacles when about to eat cherries, in order that the fruit might look larger and more tempting. In like manner I make the most of my enjoyments; and though I do not cast my eyes away from my troubles, I pack them in as small a compass as I can for myself, and never let them annoy others.” We all know the power of good cheer to magnify everything.
Travelers are told by the Icelanders, who live amid the cold and desolation of almost perpetual winter, that “Iceland is the best land the sun shines upon.”
“You are on the shady side of seventy, I expect?” was asked of an old man. “No,” was the reply, “I am on the sunny side; for I am on the side nearest to glory.”
A cheerful man is pre-eminently a useful man. He does not cramp his mind, nor take half-views of men and things. He knows that there is much misery, but that misery need not be the rule of life. He sees that in every state people may be cheerful; the lambs skip, birds sing and fly joyously, puppies play, kittens are full of joyance, the whole air full of careering and rejoicing insects; that everywhere the good outbalances the bad, and that every evil has its compensating balm.
“Bishop Fénelon is a delicious man,” said Lord Peterborough; “I had to run away from him to prevent his making me a Christian.”