When life seems to get into such a snarl that we despair of disentangling it, a long journey and change of human surroundings enable us to take a distant view, which not uncommonly shows the tangle to be no tangle at all. Although we cannot always go upon a material journey, we can change the mental perspective, and it is this adjustment of the focus which brings our perspective into truer proportions. Having once found what appears to be the true focus, let us be true to it. The temptations to lose one’s focus are many, and sometimes severe. When temporarily thrown off our balance, the best help is to return at once, without dwelling on the fact that we have lost the focus longer than is necessary to find it again. After that, our focus is better adjusted and the range steadily expanded. It is impossible for us to widen the range by thinking about it; holding the best focus we know in our daily experience does that Thus the proportions arrange themselves; we cannot arrange the proportions. Or, what is more nearly the truth, the proportions are in reality true, to begin with. As with the imaginary eye-disease, which transformed the relative sizes of the component parts of a landscape, the fault is in the eye, not in the landscape; so, when the circumstances of life are quite in the wrong proportion to one another, in our own minds, the trouble is in the mental sight, not in the circumstances.
There are many ways of getting a better focus, and ridding one’s self of trivial annoyances. One is, to be quiet; get at a good mental distance. Be sure that you have a clear view, and then hold it. Always keep your distance; never return to the old stand-point if you can manage to keep away.
We may be thankful if trivialities annoy us as trivialities. It is with those who have the constant habit of dwelling on them without feeling the discomfort that a return to freedom seems impossible.
As one comes to realize, even in a slight degree, the triviality of trivialities, and then forget them entirely in a better idea of true proportion, the sense of freedom gained is well worth working for. It certainly brings the possibility of a normal nervous system much nearer.
Relief from the mastery of an evil mood is like fresh air after having been several hours in a close room.
If one should go to work deliberately to break up another’s nervous system, and if one were perfectly free in methods of procedure, the best way would be to throw upon the victim in rapid sequence a long series of the most extreme moods. The disastrous result could be hastened by insisting that each mood should be resisted as it manifested itself, for then there would be the double strain,—the strain of the mood, and the strain of resistance. It is better to let a mood have its way than to suppress it. The story of the man who suffered from varicose veins and was cured by the waters of Lourdes, only to die a little later from an affection of the heart which arose from the suppression of the former disease, is a good illustration of the effect of mood-suppression. In the case cited, death followed at once; but death from repeated impressions of moods resisted is long drawn out, and the suffering intense, both for the patient and for his friends.