“Cheerfulness,” says Ruskin, “is as natural to the heart of a man in strong health as color to his cheek; and wherever there is habitual gloom there must be either bad air, unwholesome food, improperly severe labor, or erring habits of life.” It is an erring habit of life if we are not first of all cheerful. We are thrown into a morbid habit through circumstances utterly beyond our control, yet this fact does not change our duty toward God and toward man,—our duty to be cheerful. We are human; but it is our high privilege to lead a divine life, to accept the joy which our Lord bequeathed to his disciples.
Our trouble is that we do not half will. After a man’s habits are well set, about all he can do is to sit by and observe which way he is going. Regret it as he may, how helpless is a weak man, bound by the mighty cable of habit; twisted from tiny threads which he thought were absolutely within his control. Yet a habit of happy thought would transform his life into harmony and beauty. Is not the will almost omnipotent to determine habits before they become all-powerful? What contributes more to health or happiness than a vigorous will? A habit of directing a firm and steady will upon those things which tend to produce harmony of thought will bring happiness and contentment; the will, rightly drilled,—and divinely guided,—can drive out all discordant thoughts, and usher in the reign of perpetual harmony. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of forming a habit of cheerfulness early in life. The serene optimist is one whose mind has dwelt so long upon the sunny side of life that he has acquired a habit of cheerfulness.
The world is sad enough
Without your woes. No path is wholly rough;
Look for the places that are smooth and clear,
And speak of those who rest the weary ear
Of earth, so hurt by one continuous strain
Of human discontent and grief and pain.
“Talk faith. The
world is better off without
Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.
If you have faith in God, or man, or self,
Say so; if not, push back upon the shelf
Of silence all your thoughts till faith shall come;
No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.
“Talk health. The
dreary, never-changing tale
Of mortal maladies is worn and stale.
You cannot charm, or interest, or please,
By harping on that minor chord, disease.
Say you are well, or all is well with you.
And God shall hear your words and make them true."
 For this Pleasure-Book illustration I am indebted to “The Woman’s Home Companion.”
 The three metrical pieces cited in this chapter are by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who has gladdened the world by so much literary sunlight.