Keeping in Tune
The editor of Success gives the value of keeping in tune in terms of efficiency of work. Working under any other conditions means a useless expenditure of energy.
ORISON SWETT MARDEN IN SUCCESS MAGAZINE
NOTHING could induce Ole Bull to play in public until his violin was in perfect tune. It did not make any difference how long it took him or how uneasy his audience became, if a string stretched the least bit during a performance, even if the discord was not noticed by anyone but himself, the instrument had to be put in harmony before he went on. A poorer musician would not be so particular. He would say to himself, “I will run through this piece no matter if one string is down a bit. No one may detect it but myself.” Great music teachers say that nothing will ruin the sensitiveness of die ear and lower the musical perception and standard so quickly as using an instrument out of tune or singing with others who cannot appreciate fine tone distinctions. The mind after awhile ceases to distinguish delicate shadings of tone. The voice quickly imitates and follows the musical instrument accompanying it. The ear is deceived, and, very soon, the singer forms the habit of singing off key.
It does not matter what particular instrument you may be using in the great life orchestra, whether it be the violin, the piano, the voice, or your mind expressing itself in literature, law, medicine, or any other vocation, you cannot afford to start your concert, with the great human race for your audience, without getting it in tune.
Whatever else you may do, do not play out of tune, sing out of tune, or work out of tune. Do not let your discordant instrument spoil your ear or your mental appreciation. Familiarity with discord will wreck your success perceptions. Not even Paderewski could win exquisite harmonies from a piano out of tune.
Mental discord is fatal to quality in work. The destructive emotions—worry, anxiety, hatred, jealousy, anger, greed, selfishness, are all deadly ene-
mies of efficiency. A man can no more do his best work when possessed by any of these emotions than a watch can keep good time when there is friction in the bearings of its delicate mechanism. Every wheel, every cog, every bearing, every jewel must be mechanically perfect, for any defect, any trouble, any friction anywhere will make absolutely correct time impossible. The human machinery is infinitely more delicate than the mechanism of the finest chronometer and it needs regulating, needs to be put in perfect tune, adjusted to a nicety every morning before it starts the day’s run, just as a violin needs tuning before the concert begins.
It is strange that men, who are very shrewd in other matters, should be so shortsighted, so ignorant, so utterly foolish in regard to the importance of keeping their marvelous, intricate and delicate mental machinery every day in tune ; for harmony means efficiency, power. Many a business man drags himself wearily through a discordant day and finds himself completely exhausted at night, who would have accomplished a great deal more, with infinitely less effort, and have gone
home at night in a much fitter condition if he had taken time to put himself in tune before going to his office in the morning.
The man who goes to work in the morning feeling out of sorts with everybody, in an antagonistic attitude of mind toward life, especially toward those with whom he has to deal, is in no condition to bring the maximum of his power to his task. A large percentage of his mental forces will not be available.
When will we learn that it is not the number of hours we work but the efficiency of the work done that counts ? Many of us would accomplish much more in two or three hours of vigorous, effective work, when the mind is fresh
and resourceful, than we could accomplish in an entire day with the whole system out of tune. It is the worst possible kind of economy to try to force good work out of a discordant instrument—tired nerves, a jaded or worried brain.
Forcing the brain to work when it is out of tune is a very shortsighted policy. It takes too much out of the human instrument. Multitudes commit suicide on many years of their lives by not keeping themselves in harmony.
One reason why the lives of so many men are thin, lean, and ineffective is because they do not rise above the thousand and one things that untune their minds, that irritate them, that annoy and worry and produce discord.
Many of these failures, or people who do only mediocre things, really have a great deal of ability, but they are so sensitive to friction that they cannot do effective work when it is present. if they only had someone to steer them, to plan for them, to keep discord away from them, and to help them to keep in harmony, they could do remarkable things. But the men who do great things are obliged to acquire this “art of arts,” the ability to keep in tune, in harmony themselves. Xo one can acquire it or exercise it for them, and no one can accomplish anything very great in this world unless be is able to do this—unless he can get out of his way, or rise superior to the thousand and one things that would irritate and distract his attention.
A great many people who are disagreeable and irritable when they are tired are very amiable and harmonious when they are rested. This ought to show them that the cause of their irritability and inharmony is nerve and brain exhaustion.
How often we see men who have become absolutely unbearable, after a year of hard work, completely revolutionized when they return from a trip abroad or a few weeks' vacation in the country ! They do not seem like the same men that they were before they went away. The trifles which would throw them into a fit of passion before their vacation do not affect them at all after their return.
I know a man who is so irritable and disagreeable that an employe will not think of going to him about anything unless absolutely compelled to, because he is likely to get a storm of abuse, not because he deserves it, but because his employer always vents his biliousness on someone, usually the first man who goes near him.
I have seen this man go through his place of business in a perfect rage, abusing everybody in it. For years he has been the victim of his nerves. He is a slave to detail and works so hard that his jaded brain and nerve cells make him so irritable that a great deal of the time he is unable to control himself, and flies into a passion at the sjghtest provocation. This in spite of the fact that he is naturally a wellmeaning man.
A few months of travel or a good, long vacation in the country, would make a new man of him ; but he thinks he cannot take time to put himself in tune, so he goes on forcing very poor work out of a very good machine, simply because it is out of harmony.
The mechanism of the mind is extremely delicate, and any of the animal passions let loose in the mental realm creates fearful havoc in a very short time.
Many of us commit suicide on precious years of our lives by all sorts of indiscretions, irregular, unscientific living, vicious habits ; and many of us tear ourselves to pieces at a fearful rate with our discordant thoughts. Others again are out of tune a large part of the time because of worry—a great corrosive power which grinds the life away at a fearful rate. Anxiety wears, tears, wrenches the mental processes, and ages one rapidly.
How many men have failed of the great success which their ability prophesied because of thç irritable habit, the “touchy” habit, the scolding, fretting, nagging habit !
A hot temper has cut months—yes, years, from many a precious life.
Somewhere in my travels I have seen what appeared to be a great stone face carved out of the side of a huge cliff, a face scarred and scratched by the sharp edge of gravel and sand hurled against
it during the tremendous sand storms of the desert. Everywhere we see human faces scratched and scarred by tempests of passion, of anger, by chafing and fretting until the divine image is almost erased, and all power of accomplishing effective work has been destroyed.
How little do we realize the tremendous power there is in harmony ! How little we appreciate the fact that it makes all the difference in the world in our life-work whether we are balanced and serene, or are continually wrought up, full of discords and errors, and harassed with all sorts of perplexing, vicious things !
If we could only learn the art of keeping ourselves in harmony we could multiply our effectiveness many times and add many years to our lives. A man feels like a giant when his mind is perfectly poised, when his mental processes are running smoothly and nothing is troubling him. On the other hand, gravel in the shoe would make a Webster a fourth-rate orator.
The efficiency of the great majority of business and professional men is seriously marred by the little irritating annoyances. The first thing, then, to do in order to make your life-work effective, is to get your instrument in tune and to keep it in tune. The moment it is out of tune stop playing ; tune your instrument.
You will not lose half as much time if you do it promptly as if you put it off, to say nothing of the great injury caused the instrument by playing out of tune, and the suffering afflicted on yourself and those about you by the inharmony, the corroding discord.
Peop,e who have never tried it cannot begin to realize the tremendous advantage of putting one’s self in tune in the morning before starting on the day's work.
A New York business man recently told me that he never allows himself to go to his office in the morning until he has put his mind into perfect harmony with the world. If he has the slightest feeling of envy or jealousy, if he feels that he is selfish or unfair—if he has not the right attitude toward his partner or any of his employes, he simply wiii not go to work until his instrument i 5
in tune, until his mind is clear of any form of discord. He says that lie ha» discovered that if he starts out in the morning with a right attitude of mind toward everybody, he gets infinitely more out of the day than he otherwise would ; that whenever he allowed himself to go to work in the past in a discordant condition he did not get nearly as good results. He made those about him unhappy, to say nothing of the increased wear and tear upon himself.
This man’s example ought to be very encouraging to those who think they cannot keep themselves in harmony, because, a few years ago, his business and his home life was full of discord, but by mind training, by forming a habit of holding the right mental attitude toward the world and toward his business, he has achieved a marvellous victory over himself, a victory which has wonderfully improved his health, his
business, and his happiness.
The next time you are in a discordant mood, when you feel cross and crabbed, when little things nettle you, and you cannot get along with your office boy or stenographer, when you seem to antagonize those about you, when your brain is confused and you feel that you cannot control yourself, just try this experiment. Stop work. Jump right up from your desk ; leave whatever you are doing, and go out of doors. Walk a few blocks, or, if possible, slip out into the country and determine that you will drive out of your mind everything that fights against harmony and mental balance. Think of beautiful, harmonious things, pleasant things. Resolve that, whatever comes,, you will be cheerful and well poised, that you will not let little nagging things make a fool of you, that you will keep your mental instrument in tune.
In other words, resolve that you are going to be a man, that you are going to rise above trifles. Just say to yourself, “What a ridiculous thing for a great, strong man, made to dominate the forces of the universe, to be completely upset, thrown off his base by trivial, foolish, insignificant things!’’ Resolve that you will go back to your work a well-poised, self-possessed, selfrespecting man, and that you will put it
through with power, that you will allow nothing to throw you off your base.
The idea of a man capable of running a business going all to pieces over some little mistake of an employe, or some trifling, foolish thing which should not upset a fifteen-year-old boy !
Did you ever think that the people about you will not respect you if you have not more self-control ? If you make a fool of yourself and fly into a rage or go to pieces over an}7 little trifle, you will not only lessen their respect for you, but you will also lose your influence over them. You cannot control others unless you can control yourself.
Reason this way for a few minutes, in the open air if possible. Take in full, deep breaths of fresh air, and you will return to your task a new man.
You will be surprised to find how well it will pay you to take time to put yourself in tune. No matter when you get out of tune, stop working, refuse to do another thing until you are yourself, until you are back on the throne of your mental kingdom.
No storm can disturb the calm of the poised soul.
As the inexhaustible sun is behind every ray of light, so the inexhaustible power of omnipotence is behind every human expression of the divine harmony.
Shadows cannot come over the body while the sun shines in the mind. It is as easy to protect the mind from its enemies as our homes from thieves. Learn to recognize these thieves of happiness, burglars of joy and peace and comfort, and banish them out of every entrance of the mind. Just learn to think happiness and hold the mind firmly upon those things which produce peace, joy, and gladness. Then discord and darkness cannot enter.
If we can preserve the integrity of the mind and protect it from its enemies— evil and vicious thoughts and imaginations—we have solved the problem of
scientific living. A well-trained mind is always able to furnish the harmonious note in any condition.
Every man builds his world, makes his atmosphere. He can fill it with difficulties, fears, doubts, and despair and gloom, so that the whole life will be influenced to gloom and disaster ; or he can keep the atmosphere clear and transparent by dispelling every gloomy, envious, malicious thought.
Hold the enduring, the immortal thought in the mind and you will be surprised to see how all discord will disappear. When the mind is held in the creative attitude, all that is minus, all that is negative, all the shadows, all the discords will flee. Darkness cannot live in the presence of sunlight ; discord cannot dwell with harmony. If you hold harmony persistently in the mind, discord cannot enter ; if you cling to the truth, error will flee ; if you cling to beauty, ugliness must vanish.
There is everything in holding the mind in a positive creative attitude, for this is a builder ; the opposite a destroyer.
We must learn to cultivate, to nurse every element in us which makes for beauty, for harmony against discord, for truth against error—everything which creates—or we must inevitably fall victim to the opposite : the destructive, the tearing down, the decaying processes.
The time will come when pupils in the schools will be taught to treat their thought enemies as they would a thief. They will be taught that every bad thought, every discordant, false thought that they entertain weakens and defaces their characters, that they can not afford to harbor, even for an instant, one of these file enemies, these success enemies, these happiness enemies. They will learn to recognize them just as quickly as they would an enemy who was trying to do harm to their person or property. The the millennium will be in sight.