As Dr. Walton forcefully says in his admirable booklet:
The present, then, is the age, and our contemporaries are the people, that bring into prominence the little worries, that cause the tempest in the teapot, that bring about the worship of the intangible, and the magnification of the unessential. If we had lived in another epoch we might have dreamt of the eternal happiness of saving our neck, but in this one we fret because our collar does not fit it, and because the button that holds the collar has rolled under the bureau.[A]
[Footnote A: Calm Yourself. By George Lincoln Walton, M.D., Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, Mass.]
I am not so foolish as to imagine for one moment that I can correct the worrying tendency of the age, but I do want to be free from worry myself, to show others that it is unnecessary and needless, and also, that it is possible to live a life free from its demoralizing and altogether injurious influences.
NERVOUS PROSTRATION AND WORRY.
Nervous prostration is generally understood to mean weakness of the nerves. It invariably comes to those who have extra strong nerves, but who do not know how to use them properly, as well as those whose nervous system is naturally weak and easily disorganized. Nervous prostration is a disease of overwork, mainly mental overwork, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, comes from worry. Worry is the most senseless and insane form of mental work. It is as if a bicycle-rider were so riding against time that, the moment after he got off his machine to sit down to a meal he sprang up again, and while eating were to work his arms and legs as if he were riding. It is the slave-driver that stands over the slave and compels him to continue his work, even though he is so exhausted that hands, arms and legs cease to obey, and he falls asleep at his task.
The folly, as well as the pain and distress of this cruel slave-driving is that we hold the whip over ourselves, have trained ourselves to do it, and have done it so long that now we seem unable to stop. In another chapter there is fully described (in Dorothy Canfield’s vivid words) the squirrel-cage whirligig of modern society life. Modern business life is not much better. Men compel themselves to the endless task of amassing money without knowing why they amass it. They make money, that they may enlarge their factories, to make more ploughs, to get more money, to enlarge their factories, to make more ploughs, to get more money, to enlarge more factories, to make more ploughs, and so on, ad infinitum. Where is the sense of it. Such conduct has well been termed money-madness. It is an obsession, a disease, a form of hypnotism, a mental malady.