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Mind, Character and Personality, volume 2

Chapter 47

Mental Hygiene

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[See chapter 42, "Mind and Health."]

Mental Powers Depend on Health.-Health is a blessing of which few appreciate the value; yet upon it the efficiency of our mental and physical powers largely depends. Our impulses and passions have their seat in the body, and it must be kept in the best condition physically and under the most spiritual influences in order that our talents may be put to the highest use. Anything that lessens physical strength enfeebles the mind and makes it less capable of discriminating between right and wrong.-The Review and Herald, June 20, 1912. (Messages to Young People, 235.)

All Faculties Can Be Cultivated.-Many are not doing the greatest amount of good because they exercise the intellect in one direction and neglect to give careful attention to those things for which they think they are not adapted. Some faculties that are weak are thus allowed to lie dormant because the work that should call them into exercise, and consequently give them strength, is not pleasant. All the powers of the mind should be exercised, all the faculties cultivated. Perception, judgment, memory, and all the reasoning powers should have equal strength in order that minds may be well balanced.-Testimonies for the Church 3:32, 33 (1872).

Weak Faculties Not to Be Neglected.-It is agreeable, but not most profitable, to exercise those faculties which are naturally the strongest, while we neglect those that are weak, but which need to be strengthened. The feeblest faculties should have careful attention that all the powers of the intellect may be nicely balanced and all do their part like well-regulated machinery.

We are dependent upon God for the preservation of all our faculties. Christians are under obligation to Him to so train the mind that all the faculties may be strengthened and more fully developed. If we neglect to do this, they will never accomplish the purpose for which they were designed. We have no right to neglect any one of the powers that God has given us.

We see monomaniacs all over the country. They are frequently sane upon every subject but one. The reason of this is that one organ [part] of the mind was specially exercised while the others were permitted to lie dormant. The one that was in constant use became worn and diseased, and the man became a wreck. God was not glorified by his pursuing this course. Had he exercised all the organs equally, all would have had a healthy development; all the labor would not have been thrown upon one, therefore no one would have broken down.-Testimonies for the Church 3:33, 34 (1872).

Aim Stimulates the Mind.-You should also have an aim, a purpose, in life. Where there is no purpose, there is a disposition to indolence; but where there is a sufficiently important object in view, all the powers of the mind will come into spontaneous activity. In order to make life a success the thoughts must be steadily fixed upon the object of life and not left to wander off and be occupied with unimportant things, or to be satisfied with idle musing, which is the fruit of shunning responsibility. Castle-building depraves the mind.-Testimonies for the Church 2:429 (1870).

Overworked Stomach Weakens Mental Powers.-Children are generally untaught in regard to the importance of when, how, and what they should eat. They are permitted to indulge their tastes freely, to eat at all hours, to help themselves to fruit when it tempts their eyes, and this, with the pie, cake, bread and butter, and sweetmeats eaten almost constantly, makes them gourmands and dyspeptics. The digestive organs, like a mill which is continually kept running, become enfeebled, vital force is called from the brain to aid the stomach in its overwork, and thus the mental powers are weakened. The unnatural stimulation and wear of the vital forces make them nervous, impatient of restraint, self-willed, and irritable.-The Health Reformer, May, 1877. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 181.)

Development the Result of Effort.-Children should be taught that development of both mental and the physical powers rests with themselves; it is the result of effort.-The Signs of the Times, February 9, 1882. (Child Guidance, 206.)

Immutable Laws.-Right physical habits promote mental superiority. Intellectual power, physical strength, and longevity depend upon immutable laws.-Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 28, 1890. (Counsels on Diet and Foods, 29.)

Mind Strengthens Under Correct Treatment.-Every day men in positions of trust have decisions to make upon which depend results of great importance. Often they have to think rapidly, and this can be done successfully by those only who practice strict temperance. The mind strengthens under the correct treatment of the physical and mental powers. If the strain is not too great, new vigor comes with every taxation.

But often the work of those who have important plans to consider and important decisions to make is affected for evil by the results of improper diet. A disordered stomach produces a disordered, uncertain state of mind. Often it causes irritability, harshness, or injustice. Many a plan that would have been a blessing to the world has been set aside, many unjust, oppressive, even cruel measures have been carried, as the result of diseased conditions due to wrong habits of eating.-The Ministry of Healing, 309, 310 (1905).

Avoiding Overwork.-I hear of workers whose health is breaking down under the strain of the burdens they are bearing. This ought not to be. God desires us to remember that we are mortal. We are not to embrace too much in our work. We are not to keep ourselves under such a strain that our physical and mental powers shall be exhausted. More workers are needed that some of the burdens may be removed from those now so heavily loaded down.-The Review and Herald, April 28, 1904. (Evangelism, 660.)

Putting Two Years Into One.-The student who desires to put the work of two years into one should not be permitted to have his own way. To undertake to do double work means, with many, overtaxation of the mind and neglect of physical exercise. It is not reasonable to suppose that the mind can assimilate an oversupply of mental food; and it is as great a sin to overload the mind as it is to overload the digestive organs.-Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 296 (1913).

Excessive Study Lessens Self-control. [See chapter 54, "Overstudy."]-Excessive study, by increasing the flow of blood to the brain, creates morbid excitability that tends to lessen the power of self-control and too often gives sway to impulse or caprice. Thus the door is opened to impurity. The misuse or nonuse of the physical powers is largely responsible for the tide of corruption that is overspreading the world. "Pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness" are as deadly foes to human progress in this generation as when they led to the destruction of Sodom.-Education, 209 (1903).

Vary Subjects of Thought.-By pursuing one line of thought exclusively, the mind often becomes unbalanced. But every faculty may be safely exercised if the mental and physical powers are equally taxed and the subjects of thought are varied.-Education, 209 (1903).

Study of the Sciences Not to Be Neglected.-Far more might be accomplished in the work of self-education if we were awake to our own opportunities and privileges. True education means more than the colleges can give. While the study of the sciences is not to be neglected, there is a higher training to be obtained through a vital connection with God. Let every student take his Bible and place himself in communion with the Great Teacher. Let the mind be trained and disciplined to wrestle with hard problems in the search for divine truth.-Christ's Object Lessons, 334 (1900).

Impure Air Affects Mental Powers.-Many are continually complaining and suffering from various indispositions. This is almost always because they do not labor wisely or observe the laws of health. They frequently remain too much indoors, occupying heated rooms filled with impure air. There they apply themselves closely to study or writing, taking little physical exercise and having little change of employment. As a consequence the blood becomes sluggish and the powers of the mind are enfeebled.-Testimonies for the Church 4:264 (1876).

Debilitating Practices to Be Avoided.-Every practice that weakens physical or mental strength unfits man for the service of his Creator.-The Great Controversy, 473 (1885).

How to Preserve Mental Powers.-He who will observe simplicity in all his habits, restricting the appetite and controlling the passions, may preserve his mental powers strong, active, and vigorous, quick to perceive everything which demands thought or action, keen to discriminate between the holy and the unholy and ready to engage in every enterprise for the glory of God and the benefit of humanity.-The Signs of the Times, September 29, 1881. (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 2:1006.)

Electric Current Affects Vital Powers.-Physical inaction lessens not only mental but moral power. The brain nerves that connect with the whole system are the medium through which heaven communicates with man and affects the inmost life. Whatever hinders the circulation of the electric current in the nervous system, thus weakening the vital powers and lessening mental susceptibility, makes it more difficult to arouse the moral nature.-Education, 209 (1903).

Independent Thought and Moral Discrimination.-The education that consists in the training of the memory, tending to discourage independent thought, has a moral bearing which is too little appreciated. As the student sacrifices the power to reason and judge for himself, he becomes incapable of discriminating between truth and error and falls an easy prey to deception. He is easily led to follow tradition and custom.-Education, 230 (1903).

Trained to Reach Highest Efficiency.-Both the physical and the mental powers, with the affections, are to be so trained that they can reach the highest efficiency.-Pamphlet, The Circulation of Our Health Journals, p. 1, 1901. (Counsels on Health, 445.)

Study of Nature Strengthens Powers.-In these lessons direct from nature there is a simplicity and purity that makes them of the highest value. All need the teaching to be derived from this source. In itself the beauty of nature leads the soul away from sin and worldly attractions and toward purity, peace, and God. Too often the minds of students are occupied with men's theories and speculations, falsely called science and philosophy. They need to be brought into close contact with nature. Let them learn that creation and Christianity have one God. Let them be taught to see the harmony of the natural with the spiritual. Let everything which their eyes see or their hands handle be made a lesson in character-building. Thus the mental powers will be strengthened, the character developed, the whole life ennobled.-Christ's Object Lessons, 24, 25 (1900).

Bible Study Gives Power to the Mind. [See chapter 11, "Bible Study and the Mind."]-Those who hunger for knowledge that they may bless their fellowmen will themselves receive blessing from God. Through the study of His Word their mental powers will be aroused to earnest activity. There will be an expansion and development of the faculties, and the mind will acquire power and efficiency.-Christ's Object Lessons, 334 (1900).

Conversion Removes Darkness of Ignorance From the Mind.-In the Bible the will of God is revealed. The truths of the Word of God are the utterances of the Most High. He who makes these truths a part of his life becomes in every sense a new creature. He is not given new mental powers, but the darkness that through ignorance and sin has clouded the understanding is removed. The words, "A new heart also will I give you," mean, "A new mind will I give you." A change of heart is always attended by a clear conviction of Christian duty, an understanding of truth. He who gives the Scriptures close, prayerful attention will gain clear comprehension and sound judgment, as if in turning to God he had reached a higher plane of intelligence.-The Review and Herald, December 18, 1913. (My Life Today, 24.)