One of the original teachers of the power of optimism and self-belief, Christian D. Larson
(1874–1954) was a prominent writer and speaker and an early proponent of the power of positive thinking. This seminal book in self-help literature encourages readers to develop their talents and improve their daily lives by assuming a cheerful and supportive attitude.
Your Forces and How to Use Them includes "The Optimist Creed," originally developed by Larson under the title "Promise Yourself" and now the cornerstone philosophy of the service club Optimist International. Larson's approach encourages readers to develop their subconscious powers in order to tap into their individual talents and strengths. A classic of the New Thought movement, this volume provides a powerful template for achieving greatness.
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About the Author
Christian D. Larson (1874–1954) was a prominent New Thought and inspirational writer and speaker. He wrote more than 40 books, many of which remain in print 100 years after their initial publication Larson produced a meditation known as "The Optimist Creed," which was adopted as the manifesto of the service club Optimist International and continues to be quoted around the world.
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THE RULING PRINCIPLE IN MAN
The purpose of the following pages will be to work out the subject chosen in the most thorough and practical manner; in brief, to analyze the whole nature of man, find all the forces in his possession, whether they be apparent or hidden, active or dormant, and to present methods through which all those forces can be applied in making the life of each individual richer, greater and better. To make every phase of this work as useful as possible to the greatest number possible, not a single statement will be made that all cannot understand, and not a single idea will be presented that any one cannot apply to everyday life.
We all want to know what we actually possess both in the physical, the mental and the spiritual, and we want to know how the elements and forces within us can be applied in the most successful manner. It is results in practical life that we want, and we are not true to ourselves or the race until we learn to use the powers within us so effectively, that the greatest results possible within the possibilities of human nature are secured.
When we proceed with a scientific study of the subject, we find that the problem before us is to know what is in us and how to use what is in us. After much study of the powers in man, both conscious and subconscious, we have come to the conclusion that if we only knew how to use these powers, we could accomplish practically anything that we may have in view, and not only realize our wants to the fullest degree, but also reach even our highest goal. Though this may seem to be a strong statement, nevertheless when we examine the whole nature of man, we are compelled to admit that it is true even in its fullest sense, and that therefore, not a single individual can fail to realize his wants and reach his goal, after he has learned how to use the powers that are in him. This is not mere speculation, nor is it simply a beautiful dream. The more we study the lives of people who have achieved, and the more we study our own experience every day, the more convinced we become that there is no reason whatever why any individual should not realize all his ambitions and much more.
The basis of this study will naturally be found in the understanding of the whole nature of man, as we must know what we are, before we can know and use what we inherently possess. In analyzing human nature, a number of methods have been employed, but there are only three in particular that are of actual value for our present purpose. The first of these declares that man is composed of ego, consciousness and form, and though this analysis is the most complete, yet it is also the most abstract, and is therefore not easily understood. The second analysis, which is simpler, and which is employed almost exclusively by the majority, declares that man is body, mind and soul; but as much as this idea is thought of and spoken of, there are very few who actually understand it. In fact, the usual conception of man as body, mind and soul will have to be completely reversed in order to become absolutely true. The third analysis, which is the simplest and the most serviceable, declares that man is composed of individuality and personality, and it is this conception of human nature that will constitute the phases of our study in this work.
Before we pass to the more practical side of the subject, we shall find it profitable to examine briefly these various ideas concerning the nature of man; in fact, every part of our human analysis that refers to the ego, simply must be understood if we are to learn how to use the forces we possess, and the reason for this is found in the fact that the ego is the "I Am," the ruling principle in man, the center and source of individuality, the originator of everything that takes place in man, and that primary something to which all other things in human nature are secondary.
When the average person employs the term "ego," he thinks that he is dealing with something that is hidden so deeply in the abstract, that it can make but little difference whether we understand it or not. This, however, does not happen to be true, because it is the ego that must act before any action can take place anywhere in the human system, and it is the ego that must originate the new before any step in advance can be taken. And in addition, it is extremely important to realize that the power of will to control the forces we possess, depends directly upon how fully conscious we are of the ego as the ruling principle within us. We understand therefore, that it is absolutely necessary to associate all thought, all feeling and all actions of mind or personality with the ego, or what we shall hereafter speak of as the "I Am."
The first step to be taken in this connection, is to recognize the "I Am" in everything you do, and to think always of the "I Am," as being you — the supreme you. Whenever you think, realize that it is the "I Am" that originated the thought. Whenever you act, realize that it is the "I Am" that gives initiative to that action, and whenever you think of yourself or try to be conscious of yourself, realize that the "I Am" occupies the throne of your entire field of consciousness.
Another important essential is to affirm silently in your own mind that you are the "I Am," and as you affirm this statement, or as you simply declare positively, "I Am," think of the "I Am" as being the ruling principle in your whole world, as being distinct and above and superior to all else in your being, and as being you, yourself, in the highest, largest, and most comprehensive sense. You thus life yourself up, so to speak, to the mountain top of masterful individuality; you enthrone yourself; you become true to yourself; you place yourself where you belong.
Through this practice you not only discover yourself to be the master of your whole life, but you elevate all your conscious actions to that lofty state in your consciousness that we may describe as the throne of your being, or as that center of action within which the ruling "I Am" lives and moves and has its being. If you wish to control and direct the forces you possess, you must act from the throne of your being, so to speak; or in other words, from that conscious point in your mental world wherein all power of control, direction and initiative proceeds; and this point of action is the center of the "I Am." You must act, not as a body, not as a personality, not as a mind, but as the "I Am," and the more fully you recognize the lofty position of the "I Am," the greater becomes your power to control and direct all other things that you may possess. In brief, whenever you think or act, you should feel that you stand with the "I Am," at the apex of mentality on the very heights of your existence, and you should at the same time, realize that this "I Am" is you — the supreme you. The more you practice these methods, the more you life yourself up above the limitations of mind and body, into the realization of your own true position as a masterful individuality; in fact, you place yourself where you belong, over and above everything in your organized existence.
When we examine the mind of the average person, we find that he usually identifies himself with mind or body. He either thinks that he is body or that he is mind, and therefore he can control neither mind nor body. The "I Am" in his nature is submerged in a bundle of ideas, some of which are true and some of which are not, and his thought is usually controlled by those ideas without receiving any direction whatever from that principle within him that alone was intended to give direction. Such a man lives in the lower story of human existence but as we can control life only when we give directions from the upper story, we discover just why the average person neither understands his forces nor has the power to use them. He must first elevate himself to the upper story of the human structure, and the first and most important step to be taken in this direction is to recognize the "I Am" as the ruling principle, and that the "I Am" is you.
Another method that will be found highly important in this connection is to take a few moments every day and try to feel that you — the "I Am" — are not only above mind and body, but in a certain sense, distinct from mind and body; in fact, try to isolate the "I Am" for a few moments every day from the rest of your organized being. This practice will give you what may be termed a perfect consciousness of your own individual "I Am," and as you gain that consciousness you will always think of the supreme "I Am" whenever you think of yourself. Accordingly, all your mental actions will, from that time on, come directly from the "I Am;" and if you will continue to stand above all such actions at all times, you will be able to control them and direct them completely.
To examine consciousness and form in this connection is hardly necessary, except to define briefly their general nature, so that we may have a clear idea of what we are dealing with in the conscious field as well as in the field of expression. The "I Am" is fundamentally conscious; that is, the "I Am" knows what exists in the human field or in the human sphere and what is taking place in the human sphere; and that constitutes consciousness. In brief, you are conscious when you know that you exist and have some definite idea as to what is taking place in your sphere of existence. What we speak of as form, is everything in the organized personality that has shape and that serves in any manner to give expression to the forces within us.
In the exercise of consciousness, we find that the "I Am" employs three fundamental actions. When the "I Am" looks out upon life we have simple consciousness. When the "I Am" looks upon its own position in life we have self-consciousness, and when the "I Am" looks up into the vastness of real life we have cosmic consciousness. In simple consciousness, you are only aware of those things that exist externally to yourself, but when you begin to become conscious of yourself as a distinct entity, you begin to develop self-consciousness.
When you begin to turn your attention to the great within and begin to look up into the real source of all things, you become conscious of that world that seemingly exists within all worlds, and when you enter upon this experience, you are on the borderland of cosmic consciousness, the most fascinating subject that has ever been known.
When we come to define body, mind and soul, we must, as previously stated, reverse the usual definition. In the past, we have constantly used the expression, "I have a soul," which naturally implies the belief that "I am a body;" and so deeply has this idea become fixed in the average mind that nearly everybody thinks of the body whenever the term "me" or "myself" is employed. But in this attitude of mind the individual is not above the physical states of thought and feeling; in fact, he is more or less submerged in what may be called a bundle of physical facts and ideas, of which he has very little control. You cannot control anything in your life, however, until you are above it. You cannot control what is in your body until you realize that you are above your body. You cannot control what is in your mind until you realize that you are above your mind, and therefore no one can use the forces within him to any extent so long as he thinks of himself as being the body, or as being localized exclusively in the body.
When we examine the whole nature of man, we find that the soul is the man himself, and that the ego is the central principle of the soul; or to use another expression, the soul, including the "I Am," constitutes the individuality, and that visible something through which individuality finds expression, constitutes the personality.
If you wish to understand your forces, and gain that masterful attitude necessary to the control of your forces, train yourself to think that you are a soul, but do not think of the soul as something vague or mysterious. Think of the soul as being the individual you and all that that expression can possibly imply. Train yourself to think that you are master of mind and body, because you are above mind and body, and possess the power to use everything that is in mind and body.
HOW WE GOVERN THE FORCES WE POSSESS
WHENEVER YOU think or whenever you feel, whenever you speak, whenever you act, or whatever may be taking place in your life, your supreme idea should be that you are above it all, superior to it all, and have control of it all. You simply must take this higher ground in all action, thought and consciousness before you can control yourself and direct, for practical purposes, the forces you possess. Therefore, what has been said in connection with the "I Am," the soul and the individuality as being one, and as standing at the apex of human existence, is just as important as anything that may be said hereafter in connection with the application of the forces in man to practical action. And though this phase of the subject may appear to be somewhat abstract, we shall find no difficulty in understanding it more fully as we apply the ideas evolved. In fact, when we learn to realize that we, by nature, occupy a position that is above mind and body, this part of the subject will be found more interesting than anything else, and its application more profitable.
We can define individuality more fully by stating that it is the invisible man and that everything in man that is invisible belongs to his individuality. It is the individuality that initiates, that controls or directs. Therefore to control and use a force in your own system, you must understand and develop individuality. Your individuality must be made distinct, determined and positive. You must constantly know what you are and what you want, and you must constantly be determined to secure what you want. It is individuality that makes you different from all other organized entities, and it is a highly developed individuality that gives you the power to stand out distinct above the mass, and it is the degree of individuality that you possess that determines largely what position you are to occupy in the world.
Whenever you see a man who is different, who seems to stand out distinct, and who has something vital about him that no one else seems to possess, you have a man whose individuality is highly developed, and you also have a man who is going to make his mark in the world. Take two men of equal power, ability and efficiency, but with this difference. In the one individuality is highly developed, while in the other it is not. You know at once which one of these two is going to reach the highest places in the world of achievement; and the reason is that the one who possesses individuality, lives above mind and body, thereby being able to control and direct the forces and powers of mind and body. The man, however, whose individuality is weak, lives more or less down in mind and body, and instead of controlling mind and body, is constantly being influenced by everything from the outside that may enter his consciousness.
Whenever you find a man or a woman who is doing something worthwhile, who is creating an impression upon the race, who is moving forward towards greater and better things, you find the individuality strong, positive and highly developed. It is therefore absolutely
necessary that you give your best attention to the development of a strong, positive individuality if you wish to succeed in the world and make the best use of the forces in your possession. A negative or weak individuality drifts with the stream of environment, and usually receives only what others choose to give, but a firm, strong, positive, well-developed individuality, actually controls the ship of his life and destiny, and sooner or later will gain possession of what he originally set out to secure. A positive individuality has the power to take hold of things and turn them to good account. This is one reason why such an individuality always succeeds. Another reason is that the more fully your individuality is developed, the more you are admired by everybody with whom you may come in contact. The human race loves power, and counts it a privilege to give lofty positions to those who have power. And every man or woman, whose individuality is highly developed, does possess power — usually exceptional power.
Excerpted from "Your Forces & How To Use Them"
Copyright © 2017 Christian D. Larson.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
I. The Ruling Principle in Man
II. How We Govern the Forces We Possess
III. The Use of Mind in Practical Action
IV. The Forces of the Subconscious
V. Training the Subconscious for Special Results
VI. The Power of Subjective Thought
VII. How Man Becomes What He Thinks
VIII. The Art of Changing for the Better
IX. He Can Who Thinks He Can
X. How We Secure What We Persistently Desire
XI. Concentration and the Power Back of Suggestion
XII. The Development of the Will
XIII. The Building of a Great Mind
XIV. How Character Determines Constructive Action
XV. The Art of Building Character
XVI. The Creative Forces in Man
XVII. The Building Power of Constructive Speech
XVIII. Imagination and the Master Mind
XIX. The Higher Forces in Man
XX. The Greatest Power in Man