Posture & Vitality Supreme | Bernarr Macfadden Podcast

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by the kind financial support of listeners like you. You can become a patron of our podcast for less than a cup of coffee a month. To lend us your financial support, please visit LivingHour.org/sponsor. Today’s podcast was edited and adapted from the book Vitality Supreme by Bernarr Macfadden, published in 1915.

The great need of today is the same as it ever was. We need stronger, more capable men; healthier, superior women. Force is supreme — the driver of all humankind. And it is force that stands back of efficiency, for efficiency, first of all, means power. It comes from power, and power either comes directly from inheritance or it is developed by an intelligent application of the laws that control the culture of the physical body.

The value of efficiency is everywhere recognized. The great prizes of life come only to those who are efficient. Those who desire capacities of this sort must recognize the importance of a strong, enduring physique. The body must be developed completely, splendidly. The buoyancy, vivacity, energy, enthusiasm and ambition, ordinarily associated with youth, can be maintained through middle age and in many cases even to old age.

If your efforts are to be crowned with the halo of success, they should (whenever possible) be spurred on by the powers that accompany physical excellence. As such, the great value of maintaining the body in a proper position cannot be too strongly emphasized.

Human beings are the only animal that walks erect. We are the only animal in whom old age brings a forward bending of the spine. The hanging head, which is the attitude of hopelessness (and which is caused to a very large extent by the mental attitude that goes with approaching old age), no doubt does a great deal to quicken physical decline.

Therefore it would be wise to remember the very grave importance of a straight, erect spine. Each day of your life should be, to a certain extent, a fight for the best that there is in life and a struggle to hold the spine as nearly erect as possible. If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight, head back, chin in. If you are walking or standing, the same rule should apply.

It is not necessary to make extraordinary efforts to hold the shoulders back or to arch the chest. The head and chin in proper position will accomplish all that is needed. The chest and shoulders will naturally take care of themselves. Furthermore, it is well to remember that this attitude in itself has a tremendous influence upon both your physical and mental well-being.

The mind, for instance, is affected to an extraordinary degree by this position. It quickens the reasoning capacity, helps to clear the brain of “cobwebs” and unquestionably adds to one’s courage. The person who is afraid hangs their head. The individual who is void of fear holds their head erect, “looks the world in the face!”

There is no question that if a person without fear were to assume the position of fear, with a hanging head and shrinking body, they would quickly find themselves stirred by the emotions associated with such a posture. They would soon “get scared!”

In fact, the attitude of the body has so much to do with one’s mental and emotional state that the question of self-confidence or lack of confidence may often be decided simply by throwing your head up and back and assuming the general bodily posture that goes with confidence. It not only expresses confidence: it also develops confidence.

There is a great truth here that psychologists and those who write “self-help” books have not sufficiently understood or emphasized. When you feel discouraged, the best way to overcome the sense of depression is to “brace up” physically — for it will help you to “brace up” mentally. Try it the next time you are feeling in the dumps.

READ THE ENTIRE ESSAY IN EVEREST: 50 MOTIVATIONAL LIFE LESSONS