Developing Mental & Physical Fitness | Motivational Podcasts

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. I’d like to start today by thanking our subscribers for helping us reach the milestone of 1 million downloads. It’s been a pleasure to be able to share with you this treasure-house of classic wisdom for the past 9 months, and it’s heartening to know that you find these timeless life lessons as inspiring and motivating as we do.

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Let’s move on now to today’s reading, which has been edited and adapted from Assuming Responsibilities by Douglas Fairbanks, published in 1918.

Those who fear to assume responsibility necessarily take orders from others. The punishment fits the crime perfectly, and being self-inflicted there is no injustice. Many men and women possessed of great brain power play “second fiddle” to shallow-minded persons of inferior wisdom from sheer lack of forcefulness on their own part. They lack the full quality of leadership while possessing all attributes, save one essential — courage.

Fear abides in their hearts and spreads itself as a mantle of gloom over their anxious souls until finally they struggle no more. Henceforth, they are doomed and become the subject of apology on the part of friends and relations.

A disinterested listener, however, is seldom taken into camp by such apologies. They know that the person needs some sort of swift kick that will stir their combativeness into action — that will cause them to turn upon their mental inferior side and have it out, once and for all.

As a courage builder, fighting for justice is not to be sneezed at. Courage can be built up just the same as any other soul quality. It is all a matter of early training as to which one we start out with — courage or fear. Unthinking parents have a lot to do with the propagation of fear in the hearts of children. A neglectful father plus a fear-stricken mother constitute the most logical forces which tend toward the overdevelopment of fear in a child.

Once the seed is thoroughly implanted, the growth can be depended upon. How to get rid of it later is not so easy to figure out. Had the child been born with a “club-foot” these same parents would have spent their last dollar in an effort to straighten it into natural condition. They could see the unshapely foot day by day with their own eyes — and so could their neighbors. But the anxious little brain struggling for courage with which to combat its weakness must battle alone with chances largely against it.

The mere thought of what is in store for a little one, as it stumbles along from one period to another, fearful of this, and fearful of that, is disconcerting to say the least. We can almost trace our anxious friends directly back to such a childhood. We can almost hear their fond mother shout, “Keep away from the brook, darling, you might get your feet wet and catch a death of a cold.”

Another well-known and highly respected admonition belonging to childhood’s hour is, “Come in, honey, it’s getting dark — the Boogie man will get you if you don’t watch out.”

Remember that tall oaks from little acorns grow — if the twig is not rent in the sprouting. Little boys and girls are bound to grow into adulthood someday, and when they arrive, they must have one particular attribute — courage. Somehow they will always get along if they have that.

They may also have a “club foot” or some other physical handicap, but with courage as a running mate they will assume their responsibilities and become a force in the world.

Everything that tends to build up courage is an asset in life. The more we have of it, the further we go, and the more interesting our lives become. For the individual with the lion heart, all things unfold, and unto them the timid must bring their offerings.

We go to the strong ones who do things and say to them: “Here is my little idea — do you want to help me out?” If it is a good idea, they do. If not, their experience tells them so, for men and women of courage are naturally possessed of large vision. Their lack of fear has given them right-of-way over vast areas of the world of action. They fail only as “their lights go out forever.”

With courage we order our own lives and take orders only from those of superior wisdom. This we can never afford not to do. The courageous person of largest vision takes command by their power to reason logically, and therefore assumes the air of comradeship rather than “overseer” or “boss.” Only through lack of moral and physical courage are we to become the slaves of anxiety.

Courage — the child of Hope — the despair of Failure. Born of Good Cheer it links its fate with the higher attributes and tramples under foot the fears which spring up before it. When sown early into the hearts of the young, its companionship becomes unerring in its efficiency for good throughout their lives.

Exercise is critical for establishing and maintaining courage, and keeping our physical house in order. It is no trouble at all to exercise by simply turning into an exercise any of our ordinary physical actions during the day as we go along. For instance, we can sit down in a chair and in so doing can add a certain amount of exercise to the action itself — also in rising. With very little effort we can come into the habit of sitting correctly, posing the body as it should be, holding the shoulders in proper position, and also the chin so that it becomes a hardship to sit improperly. All of this has to do with maintaining our general physique.

In walking, we can go along with a spring, elasticity, and vigor of motion which forces a fine blood circulation throughout the entire system. We can stoop over in the act of picking up some object from the floor, and at the same time make it a matter of physical exercise. We may take a hat from the rack while standing away from it, thus stretching ourselves, as it were, into a little needful action.

Putting on an overcoat, or any part of our clothing, may be done in such a way as to set the blood to racing through the body. Morning and night — upon getting up and upon retiring — there is every reason to make it a rule to exercise freely.

The morning exercise wakes us up and sits us down finally at the breakfast table with a zest for the food set before us. The morning bath is an agency for good in this direction, after we have given ourselves a good shake-up from head to foot.

By the same token, exercises at night before retiring induce sound sleep and take away the strain of the preceding day. A very successful system is that of exercising in bed. Instead of immediately jumping to the floor in the morning, it is very inviting to go through some simple form of gymnastics in which the bed is brought into play.

Physical exercise is something which can, of course, be carried to extremes—especially in our current day and age. We can go at the work so intensely that we become muscle-bound and develop some structural enlargements that we do not need. The ordinary person should avoid such exercise plans. Superfluous strength is only for those who have need of it (such as professional athletes).

What WE really want is strength enough to carry us through our daily rounds with comfort and a feeling of efficiency. In a sense, we all live by our wits and these decline when not properly fed by our general physical organization.

In addition to typical exercises, we should come to know early in life what a large part good humor plays in physical fitness. Hearty laughter is one of the very best of exercises. It is an organizer in itself and opens up the heart and lungs as nothing else will do. It makes the blood go galloping all through the system.

It is one of the best automatic blood circulators in the business. Laughter takes the stress off the mind, and whatever is ahead of us for the day that seems likely to become a burden is soon turned into an ordinary circumstance — we smile as we go about doing it.

It goes without saying that the open-faced, cheerful individual inspires confidence — while the dried-up, sour chap, inspires nothing, and thus gets nothing in return.

The problem of life is to fill our days with sunshine. In so doing, we shall find that the “little graces” are those which will lend us the most help. Tiny favors extended, words of encouragement, courtesies of all sorts, unselfish work carried out in an open manner, true friendships and love, a hearty laugh, a sincere appreciation of the other fellow’s struggle to keep their head above water, the conscientious carrying out of all tasks assigned us — these are our helpmates and they are the products of our physical and mental equipment.

Through these we come into our knack of detecting friends among those who are the salt of the earth. It is impossible for the person who desires good health to obtain it (or having it, to retain it), without consistent effort. A watch will not run without the proper regulation of the mainspring. We must keep up our activities.

We have taken the earth and are turning it into something to serve us — therefore the need of fine bodily preparedness. Nothing can take the place of achievement, and it comes through physical and mental efficiency. The one must not be neglected for the other; both must be cultivated and developed alike in order that each may help the other.

Happiness comes only to those who take care of themselves. It is the natural product of clear-mindedness. No pleasure can surpass that of a conscious feeling of our strength of character. It is an all important element in those who aspire to succeed.

The person who rises in the morning from a healthy slumber and plunges into the bath after some vigorous exercise is prepared to undertake anything. Their world seems fair, and though the sun may not be shining literally, it is to all intents and purposes. Thus, they go swinging along with a cheery smile, carrying the message of hope and joy to all those with whom they come in contact.

Of course, mental fitness is equally important to physical fitness. And the character of a man and woman expresses itself by the books they read. Every well-informed person since the invention of the printing press has been a close reader of a few books that stand out from among the many. We read of Lincoln devouring the few books he had over and over again and studying from cover to cover and word for word the Webster’s dictionary of his day.

As the poet Robert Heath once wrote, “A few good books, digested well, do feed the mind.” Feed the mind! That’s the idea — but how shall we feed it? The answer is easy — with something worthwhile — something that will inform and inspire. We can cram our minds to the point of indigestion with useless, frivolous information, just as easily as we may cram our stomachs with certain foods that tear down rather than build up.

The habit of reading the right sort of books should begin early in life and continue throughout our days. Good books are a treasure . . . and as we read, we feel, hear, see, and understand in the way the author did. If what is said appeals to our way of thinking, a new world is unfolded to our vision, filled to the brim with things we can think about and add to our stock of knowledge.

Little-known inspirational volumes may prove to have enough thought stored away between their covers to keep us interested all our days. They become like a breath of fresh air … a tonic … a stiff morning walk. They stir the mind to action and inspire us to lift ourselves out of the rut into which we have fallen.

One returns to them time after time, each reading opening up new vistas of thought that strengthen and enlarge mind. Their beauty lifts us into a higher realm, and they fill the heart with a longing and the courage to do something great — something extraordinary.

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