Listen to episode 296 of the Inspirational Living podcast: Getting Out of Ruts | How to Live Long & Love It. Edited and adapted from The Road to Seventy Years Young by Emily Mulkin Bishop, published in 1909.
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Today’s reading was edited and adapted from “The Road to Seventy Years Young or The Unhabitual Way” by Emily Mulkin Bishop, published in 1909.
A kind of mental laziness (which for lack of a better term may be called “an inertia of the will”) is, perhaps, the chief cause of old age. It is easy to dawdle mentally, for no action of will is required when the wheels of thought aimlessly revolve in accustomed grooves. Such come-as-you-please thoughts are practically automatic, the undirected response to some stimulus.
Directed thinking to some definite end (which is the only kind of thinking that makes for the retention of mental vigor) requires effort. If you are going to use your mind, use it with all your heart. A virile will takes the initiative. It is pioneering, daring, and definite. Inertia of the will manifests, instead, in such mental habits as treadmill thinking, mooning about, and vain longings.
During the early part of life, the strong stimuli afforded by school and college, study and sports, by the first few years of aggressive business and professional life, are sufficient to keep the brain quite generally active. But as time goes by, the early stimuli no longer stimulate. The result is that the average person of forty years thinks and feels principally in ruts — and thoughts and emotions control their acts.
It is well, occasionally, to take an inventory of our stock of ideas, of our staple lines of thought, and to close out those that have become "dead stock." To make room for the new, out must go the old prejudices, the antiquated ideas, the old business methods. True, this is setting a task that is difficult for some people. But what matter does it make, if growth follows.
Now, it may seem like we are losing a part of our very selves to give up certain long cherished ideas — for our opinions and habits of thought are very intimately associated with our identity. But if our mental furnishings have become shabby, no matter what their associations, they must be discarded. As it’s been said, "Angels must go, that archangels may come."