Desire having been created, our law of sale states that desire, properly augmented, ripens into decision and action. This is true. And yet the ripening process is sometimes so slow that the frost of fear or the rot of regret spoils the fruit. It is popularly supposed to be true that if a person really desires to do a thing strongly enough, and it is within the bounds of possibility, he will do it. Nine times out of ten, or perhaps ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this is the case; but there are times when the will simply refuses to respond to desire.
A lady who was of an exceedingly stubborn nature once said to us: “Ordinarily, I consider myself to be quite amenable to persuasion and suggestion. I like to live peaceably with others. Occasionally, however, someone, and perhaps someone whom I love very dearly, says something or does something that makes me stubborn. Then I absolutely balk. Commands, demands, appeals, cajoleries, every means thinkable, are used, but the more people attempt to influence my action, the more stubborn I become. If then I am left alone to think it over for a few hours, very likely I shall begin to think that it would be advisable, from every point of view, for me to yield. My judgment is already convinced that to yield is the best policy. My love for my friends, my desire for peace, my wish to be accommodating and to have their approval all urge me to yield. I want to yield. But, even then—how, I cannot explain—there is something inside which absolutely forbids it. This is so strong that it feels stronger than my judgment and all of my desires taken together. The only possible course for me to pursue is to forget the entire matter for a few days, at the end of which time, perhaps, the stubbornness has seemingly evaporated.”
And so, merely augmenting desire oftentimes is not enough to bring about decision and action, even in cases which are not so extreme as those which we have just cited. The proposition may be of such a nature that it does not admit of arousing desire to any very high pitch. In all such cases what is needed is some special stimulus to the will. As every chemist knows, sulphuric acid and alcohol, when mingled together in a glass vessel, do not combine. They have an affinity for each other. All of the necessary elements for active combination are present in that glass, and yet they do not combine. But drop in a bit of platinum and instantly the whole mass is boiling with energy let loose. In a similar way, oftentimes, all the elements for decision and action are present in the mind, yet nothing happens. But a word or a little act, seemingly insignificant in itself, oftentimes breaks the spell, as it were, and decision and action follow. In our first chapter of this part we described some of these methods for ripening desire into decision and action. This chapter we shall devote to a consideration of different classes of individuals and the best methods of inducing in them favorable decision and action.