THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONALITY.—More powerful than the influence of material environment, however, is that of other personalities upon us—the touch of life upon life. A living personality contains a power which grips hold of us, electrifies us, inspires us, and compels us to new endeavor, or else degrades and debases us. None has failed to feel at some time this life-touch, and to bless or curse the day when its influence came upon him. Either consciously or unconsciously such a personality becomes our ideal and model; we idolize it, idealize it, and imitate it, until it becomes a part of us. Not only do we find these great personalities living in the flesh, but we find them also in books, from whose pages they speak to us, and to whose influence we respond.
And not in the great personalities alone does the power to influence reside. From every life which touches ours, a stream of influence great or small is entering our life and helping to mold it. Nor are we to forget that this influence is reciprocal, and that we are reacting upon others up to the measure of the powers that are in us.
4. THE INSTINCT OF PLAY
Small use to be a child unless one can play. Says Karl Groos: "Perhaps the very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play; the animal does not play because he is young, but he is young because he must play." Play is a constant factor in all grades of animal life. The swarming insects, the playful kitten, the frisking lambs, the racing colt, the darting swallows, the maddening aggregation of blackbirds—these are but illustrations of the common impulse of all the animal world to play. Wherever freedom and happiness reside, there play is found; wherever play is lacking, there the curse has fallen and sadness and oppression reign. Play is the natural role in the paradise of youth; it is childhood's chief occupation. To toil without play, places man on a level with the beasts of burden.
THE NECESSITY FOR PLAY.—But why is play so necessary? Why is this impulse so deep-rooted in our natures? Why not compel our young to expend their boundless energy on productive labor? Why all this waste? Why have our child labor laws? Why not shut recesses from our schools, and so save time for work? Is it true that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? Too true. For proof we need but gaze at the dull and lifeless faces of the prematurely old children as they pour out of the factories where child labor is employed. We need but follow the children, who have had a playless childhood, into a narrow and barren manhood. We need but to trace back the history of the dull and brutish men of today, and find that they were the playless children of yesterday. Play is as necessary to the child as food, as vital as sunshine, as indispensable as air.
The keynote of play is freedom, freedom of physical activity, and mental initiative. In play the child makes his own plans, his imagination has free rein, originality is in demand, and constructive ability is placed under tribute. Here are developed a thousand tendencies which would never find expression in the narrow treadmill of labor alone. The child needs to learn to work; but along with his work must be the opportunity for free and unrestricted activity, which can come only through play. The boy needs a chance to be a barbarian, a hero, an Indian. He needs to ride his broomstick on a dangerous raid, and to charge with lath sword the redoubts of a stubborn enemy. He needs to be a leader as well as a follower. In short, without in the least being aware of it, he needs to develop himself through his own activity—he needs freedom to play. If the child be a girl, there is no difference except in the character of the activities employed.
PLAY IN DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION.—And it is precisely out of these play activities that the later and more serious activities of life emerge. Play is the gateway by which we best enter the various fields of the world's work, whether our particular sphere be that of pupil or teacher in the schoolroom, of man in the busy marts of trade or in the professions, or of farmer or mechanic. Play brings the whole self into the activity; it trains to habits of independence and individual initiative, to strenuous and sustained effort, to endurance of hardship and fatigue, to social participation and the acceptance of victory and defeat. And these are the qualities needed by the man of success in his vocation.
These facts make the play instinct one of the most important in education. Froebel was the first to recognize the importance of play, and the kindergarten was an attempt to utilize its activities in the school. The introduction of this new factor into education has been attended, as might be expected, by many mistakes. Some have thought to recast the entire process of education into the form of games and plays, and thus to lead the child to possess the "Promised Land" through aimlessly chasing butterflies in the pleasant fields of knowledge. It is needless to say that they have not succeeded. Others have mistaken the shadow for the substance, and introduced games and plays into the schoolroom which lack the very first element of play; namely, freedom of initiative and action on the part of the child. Educational theorists and teachers have invented games and occupations and taught them to the children, who go through with them much as they would with any other task, enjoying the activity but missing the development which would come through a larger measure of self-direction.
WORK AND PLAY ARE COMPLEMENTS.—Work cannot take the place of play, neither can play be substituted for work. Nor are the two antagonistic, but each is the complement of the other; for the activities of work grow immediately out of those of play, and each lends zest to the other. Those who have never learned to work and those who have never learned to play are equally lacking in their development. Further, it is not the name or character of an activity which determines whether it is play for the participant, but his attitude toward the activity. If the activity is performed for its own sake and not for some ulterior end, if it grows out of the interest of the child and involves the free and independent use of his powers of body and mind, if it is his, and not someone's else—then the activity possesses the chief characteristics of play. Lacking these, it cannot be play, whatever else it may be.
Play, like other instincts, besides serving the present, looks in two directions, into the past and into the future. From the past come the shadowy interests which, taking form from the touch of our environment, determine the character of the play activities. From the future come the premonitions of the activities that are to be. The boy adjusting himself to the requirements of the game, seeking control over his companions or giving in to them, is practicing in miniature the larger game which he will play in business or profession a little later. The girl in her playhouse, surrounded by a nondescript family of dolls and pets, is unconsciously looking forward to a more perfect life when the responsibilities shall be a little more real. So let us not grudge our children the play day of youth.
5. OTHER USEFUL INSTINCTS
Many other instincts ripen during the stage of youth and play their part in the development of the individual.
CURIOSITY.—It is inherent in every normal person to want to investigate and know. The child looks out with wonder and fascination on a world he does not understand, and at once begins to ask questions and try experiments. Every new object is approached in a spirit of inquiry. Interest is omnivorous, feeding upon every phase of environment. Nothing is too simple or too complex to demand attention and exploration, so that it vitally touches the child's activities and experience.
The momentum given the individual by curiosity toward learning and mastering his world is incalculable. Imagine the impossible task of teaching children what they had no desire or inclination to know! Think of trying to lead them to investigate matters concerning which they felt only a supreme indifference! Indeed one of the greatest problems of education is to keep curiosity alive and fresh so that its compelling influence may promote effort and action. One of the greatest secrets of eternal youth is also found in retaining the spontaneous curiosity of youth after the youthful years are past.
MANIPULATION.—This is the rather unsatisfactory name for the universal tendency to handle, do or make something. The young child builds with its blocks, constructs fences and pens and caves and houses, and a score of other objects. The older child, supplied with implements and tools, enters upon more ambitious projects and revels in the joy of creation as he makes boats and boxes, soldiers and swords, kites, play-houses and what-not. Even as adults we are moved by a desire to express ourselves through making or creating that which will represent our ingenuity and skill. The tendency of children to destroy is not from wantonness, but rather from a desire to manipulate.
Education has but recently begun to make serious use of this important impulse. The success of all laboratory methods of teaching, and of such subjects as manual training and domestic science, is abundant proof of the adage that we learn by doing. We would rather construct or manipulate an object than merely learn its verbal description. Our deepest impulses lead to creation rather than simple mental appropriation of facts and descriptions.
THE COLLECTING INSTINCT.—The words my and mine enter the child's vocabulary at a very early age. The sense of property ownership and the impulse to make collections of various kinds go hand in hand. Probably there are few of us who have not at one time or another made collections of autographs, postage stamps, coins, bugs, or some other thing of as little intrinsic value. And most of us, if we have left youth behind, are busy even now in seeking to collect fortunes, works of art, rare volumes or other objects on which we have set our hearts.
The collecting instinct and the impulse to ownership can be made important agents in the school. The child who, in nature study, geography or agriculture, is making a collection of the leaves, plants, soils, fruits, or insects used in the lessons has an incentive to observation and investigation impossible from book instruction alone. One who, in manual training or domestic science, is allowed to own the article made will give more effort and skill to its construction than if the work be done as a mere school task.
THE DRAMATIC INSTINCT.—Every person is, at one stage of his development, something of an actor. All children like to "dress up" and impersonate someone else—in proof of which, witness the many play scenes in which the character of nurse, doctor, pirate, teacher, merchant or explorer is taken by children who, under the stimulus of their spontaneous imagery and as yet untrammeled by self-consciousness, freely enter into the character they portray. The dramatic impulse never wholly dies out. When we no longer aspire to do the acting ourselves we have others do it for us in the theaters or the movies.
Education finds in the dramatic instinct a valuable aid. Progressive teachers are using it freely, especially in the teaching of literature and history. Its application to these fields may be greatly increased, and also extended more generally to include religion, morals, and art.
THE IMPULSE TO FORM GANGS AND CLUBS.—Few boys and girls grow up without belonging at some time to a secret gang, club or society. Usually this impulse grows out of two different instincts, the social and the adventurous. It is fundamental in our natures to wish to be with our kind—not only our human kind, but those of the same age, interests and ambitions. The love of secrecy and adventure is also deep seated in us. So we are clannish; and we love to do the unusual, to break away from the commonplace and routine of our lives. There is often a thrill of satisfaction—even if it be later followed by remorse—in doing the forbidden or the unconventional.
The problem here as in the case of many other instincts is one of guidance rather than of repression. Out of the gang impulse we may develop our athletic teams, our debating and dramatic clubs, our tramping clubs, and a score of other recreational, benevolent, or social organizations. Not repression, but proper expression should be our ideal.
Probably in no instinct more than in that of fear can we find the reflections of all the past ages of life in the world with its manifold changes, its dangers, its tragedies, its sufferings, and its deaths.
FEAR HEREDITY.—The fears of childhood "are remembered at every step," and so are the fears through which the race has passed. Says Chamberlain: "Every ugly thing told to the child, every shock, every fright given him, will remain like splinters in the flesh, to torture him all his life long. The bravest old soldier, the most daring young reprobate, is incapable of forgetting them all—the masks, the bogies, ogres, hobgoblins, witches, and wizards, the things that bite and scratch, that nip and tear, that pinch and crunch, the thousand and one imaginary monsters of the mother, the nurse, or the servant, have had their effect; and hundreds of generations have worked to denaturalize the brains of children. Perhaps no animal, not even those most susceptible to fright, has behind it the fear heredity of the child."
President Hall calls attention to the fact that night is now the safest time of the twenty-four hours; serpents are no longer our most deadly enemies; strangers are not to be feared; neither are big eyes or teeth; there is no adequate reason why the wind, or thunder, or lightning should make children frantic as they do. But "the past of man forever seems to linger in his present"; and the child, in being afraid of these things, is only summing up the fear experiences of the race and suffering all too many of them in his short childhood.
FEAR OF THE DARK.—Most children are afraid in the dark. Who does not remember the terror of a dark room through which he had to pass, or, worse still, in which he had to go to bed alone, and there lie in cold perspiration induced by a mortal agony of fright! The unused doors which would not lock, and through which he expected to see the goblin come forth to get him! The dark shadows back under the bed where he was afraid to look for the hidden monster which he was sure was hiding there and yet dare not face! The lonely lane through which the cows were to be driven late at night, while every fence corner bristled with shapeless monsters lying in wait for boys!
And that hated dark closet where he was shut up "until he could learn to be good!" And the useless trapdoor in the ceiling. How often have we lain in the dim light at night and seen the lid lift just a peep for ogre eyes to peer out, and, when the terror was growing beyond endurance, close down, only to lift once and again, until from sheer weariness and exhaustion we fell into a troubled sleep and dreamed of the hideous monster which inhabited the unused garret! Tell me that the old trapdoor never bent its hinges in response to either man or monster for twenty years? I know it is true, and yet I am not convinced. My childish fears have left a stronger impression than proof of mere facts can ever overrule.
FEAR OF BEING LEFT ALONE.—And the fear of being left alone. How big and dreadful the house seemed with the folks all gone! How we suddenly made close friends with the dog or the cat, even, in order that this bit of life might be near us! Or, failing in this, we have gone out to the barn among the chickens and the pigs and the cows, and deserted the empty house with its torture of loneliness. What was there so terrible in being alone? I do not know. I know only that to many children it is a torture more exquisite than the adult organism is fitted to experience.
But why multiply the recollections? They bring a tremor to the strongest of us today. Who of us would choose to live through those childish fears again? Dream fears, fears of animals, fears of furry things, fears of ghosts and of death, dread of fatal diseases, fears of fire and of water, of strange persons, of storms, fears of things unknown and even unimagined, but all the more fearful! Would you all like to relive your childhood for its pleasures if you had to take along with them its sufferings? Would the race choose to live its evolution over again? I do not know. But, for my own part, I should very much hesitate to turn the hands of time backward in either case. Would that the adults at life's noonday, in remembering the childish fears of life's morning, might feel a sympathy for the children of today, who are not yet escaped from the bonds of the fear instinct. Would that all might seek to quiet every foolish childish fear, instead of laughing at it or enhancing it!
7. OTHER UNDESIRABLE INSTINCTS
We are all provided by nature with some instincts which, while they may serve a good purpose in our development, need to be suppressed or at least modified when they have done their work.
SELFISHNESS.—All children, and perhaps all adults, are selfish. The little child will appropriate all the candy, and give none to his playmate. He will grow angry and fight rather than allow brother or sister to use a favorite plaything. He will demand the mother's attention and care even when told that she is tired or ill, and not able to minister to him. But all of this is true to nature and, though it needs to be changed to generosity and unselfishness, is, after all, a vital factor in our natures. For it is better in the long run that each one should look out for himself, rather than to be so careless of his own interests and needs as to require help from others. The problem in education is so to balance selfishness and greed with unselfishness and generosity that each serves as a check and a balance to the other. Not elimination but equilibrium is to be our watchword.
PUGNACITY, OR THE FIGHTING IMPULSE.—Almost every normal child is a natural fighter, just as every adult should possess the spirit of conquest. The long history of conflict through which our race has come has left its mark in our love of combat. The pugnacity of children, especially of boys, is not so much to be deprecated and suppressed as guided into right lines and rendered subject to right ideals. The boy who picks a quarrel has been done a kindness when given a drubbing that will check this tendency. On the other hand, one who risks battle in defense of a weaker comrade does no ignoble thing. Children need very early to be taught the baseness of fighting for the sake of conflict, and the glory of going down to defeat fighting in a righteous cause. The world could well stand more of this spirit among adults!
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Let us then hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The undesirable instincts do not need encouragement. It is better to let them fade away from disuse, or in some cases even by attaching punishment to their expression. They are echoes from a distant past, and not serviceable in this better present. The desirable instincts we are to seize upon and utilize as starting points for the development of useful interests, good habits, and the higher emotional life. We should take them as they come, for their appearance is a sure sign that the organism is ready for and needs the activity they foreshadow; and, furthermore, if they are not used when they present themselves, they disappear, never to return.
8. PROBLEMS IN OBSERVATION AND INTROSPECTION
1. What instincts have you noticed developing in children? What ones have you observed to fade away? Can you fix the age in both cases? Apply these questions to your own development as you remember it or can get it by tradition from your elders.
2. What use of imitation may be made in teaching (1) literature, (2) composition, (3) music, (4) good manners, (5) morals?
3. Should children be taught to play? Make a list of the games you think all children should know and be able to play. It has been said that it is as important for a people to be able to use their leisure time wisely as to use their work time profitably. Why should this be true?
4. Observe the instruction of children to discover the extent to which use is made of the constructive instinct. The collecting instinct. The dramatic instinct. Describe a plan by which each of these instincts can be successfully used in some branch of study.
5. What examples can you recount from your own experience of conscious imitation? of unconscious imitation? of the influence of environment? What is the application of the preceding question to the esthetic quality of our school buildings?
6. Have you ever observed that children under a dozen years of age usually cannot be depended upon for "team work" in their games? How do you explain this fact?
FEELING AND ITS FUNCTIONS
In the psychical world as well as the physical we must meet and overcome inertia. Our lives must be compelled by motive forces strong enough to overcome this natural inertia, and enable us besides to make headway against many obstacles. The motive power that drives us consists chiefly of our feelings and emotions. Knowledge, cognition, supplies the rudder that guides our ship, but feeling and emotion supply the power.
To convince one's head is, therefore, not enough; his feelings must be stirred if you would be sure of moving him to action. Often have we known that a certain line of action was right, but failed to follow it because feeling led in a different direction. When decision has been hanging in the balance we have piled on one side obligation, duty, sense of right, and a dozen other reasons for action, only to have them all outweighed by the one single: It is disagreeable. Judgment, reason, and experience may unite to tell us that a contemplated course is unwise, and imagination may reveal to us its disastrous consequences, and yet its pleasures so appeal to us that we yield. Our feelings often prove a stronger motive than knowledge and will combined; they are a factor constantly to be reckoned with among our motives.
1. THE NATURE OF FEELING
It will be our purpose in the next few chapters to study the affective content of consciousness—the feelings and emotions. The present chapter will be devoted to the feelings and the one that follows to the emotions.
THE DIFFERENT FEELING QUALITIES.—At least six (some writers say even more) distinct and qualitatively different feeling states are easily distinguished. These are: pleasure, pain; desire, repugnance; interest, apathy. Pleasure and pain, and desire and repugnance, are directly opposite or antagonistic feelings. Interest and apathy are not opposites in a similar way, since apathy is but the absence of interest, and not its antagonist. In place of the terms pleasure and pain, the pleasant and the unpleasant, or the agreeable and the disagreeable, are often used. Aversion is frequently employed as a synonym for repugnance.
It is somewhat hard to believe on first thought that feeling comprises but the classes given. For have we not often felt the pain from a toothache, from not being able to take a long-planned trip, from the loss of a dear friend? Surely these are very different classes of feelings! Likewise we have been happy from the very joy of living, from being praised for some well-doing, or from the presence of friend or lover. And here again we seem to have widely different classes of feelings.
We must remember, however, that feeling is always based on something known. It never appears alone in consciousness as mere pleasures or pains. The mind must have something about which to feel. The "what" must precede the "how." What we commonly call a feeling is a complex state of consciousness in which feeling predominates, but which has, nevertheless, a basis of sensation, or memory, or some other cognitive process. And what so greatly varies in the different cases of the illustrations just given is precisely this knowledge element, and not the feeling element. A feeling of unpleasantness is a feeling of unpleasantness whether it comes from an aching tooth or from the loss of a friend. It may differ in degree, and the entire mental states of which the feeling is a part may differ vastly, but the simple feeling itself is of the same quality.
FEELING ALWAYS PRESENT IN MENTAL CONTENT.—No phase of our mental life is without the feeling element. We look at the rainbow with its beautiful and harmonious blending of colors, and a feeling of pleasure accompanies the sensation; then we turn and gaze at the glaring sun, and a disagreeable feeling is the result. A strong feeling of pleasantness accompanies the experience of the voluptuous warmth of a cozy bed on a cold morning, but the plunge between the icy sheets on the preceding evening was accompanied by the opposite feeling. The touch of a hand may occasion a thrill of ecstatic pleasure, or it may be accompanied by a feeling equally disagreeable. And so on through the whole range of sensation; we not only know the various objects about us through sensation and perception, but we also feel while we know. Cognition, or the knowing processes, gives us our "whats"; and feeling, or the affective processes, gives us our "hows." What is yonder object? A bouquet. How does it affect you? Pleasurably.
If, instead of the simpler sensory processes which we have just considered, we take the more complex processes, such as memory, imagination, and thinking, the case is no different. Who has not reveled in the pleasure accompanying the memories of past joys? On the other hand, who is free from all unpleasant memories—from regrets, from pangs of remorse? Who has not dreamed away an hour in pleasant anticipation of some desired object, or spent a miserable hour in dreading some calamity which imagination pictured to him? Feeling also accompanies our thought processes. Everyone has experienced the feeling of the pleasure of intellectual victory over some difficult problem which had baffled the reason, or over some doubtful case in which our judgment proved correct. And likewise none has escaped the feeling of unpleasantness which accompanies intellectual defeat. Whatever the contents of our mental stream, "we find in them, everywhere present, a certain color of passing estimate, an immediate sense that they are worth something to us at any given moment, or that they then have an interest to us."
THE SEEMING NEUTRAL FEELING ZONE.—It is probable that there is so little feeling connected with many of the humdrum and habitual experiences of our everyday lives, that we are but slightly, if at all, aware of a feeling state in connection with them. Yet a state of consciousness with absolutely no feeling side to it is as unthinkable as the obverse side of a coin without the reverse. Some sort of feeling tone or mood is always present. The width of the affective neutral zone—that is, of a feeling state so little marked as not to be discriminated as either pleasure or pain, desire or aversion—varies with different persons, and with the same person at different times. It is conditioned largely by the amount of attention given in the direction of feeling, and also on the fineness of the power of feeling discrimination. It is safe to say that the zero range is usually so small as to be negligible.
2. MOOD AND DISPOSITION
The sum total of all the feeling accompanying the various sensory and thought processes at any given time results in what we may call our feeling tone, or mood.
HOW MOOD IS PRODUCED.—During most of our waking hours, and, indeed, during our sleeping hours as well, a multitude of sensory currents are pouring into the cortical centers. At the present moment we can hear the rumble of a wagon, the chirp of a cricket, the chatter of distant voices, and a hundred other sounds besides. At the same time the eye is appealed to by an infinite variety of stimuli in light, color, and objects; the skin responds to many contacts and temperatures; and every other type of end-organ of the body is acting as a "sender" to telegraph a message in to the brain. Add to these the powerful currents which are constantly being sent to the cortex from the visceral organs—those of respiration, of circulation, of digestion and assimilation. And then finally add the central processes which accompany the flight of images through our minds—our meditations, memories, and imaginations, our cogitations and volitions.
Thus we see what a complex our feelings must be, and how impossible to have any moment in which some feeling is not present as a part of our mental stream. It is this complex, now made up chiefly on the basis of the sensory currents coming in from the end-organs or the visceral organs, and now on the basis of those in the cortex connected with our thought life, which constitutes the entire feeling tone, or mood.
MOOD COLORS ALL OUR THINKING.—Mood depends on the character of the aggregate of nerve currents entering the cortex, and changes as the character of the current varies. If the currents run on much the same from hour to hour, then our mood is correspondingly constant; if the currents are variable, our mood also will be variable. Not only is mood dependent on our sensations and thoughts for its quality, but it in turn colors our entire mental life. It serves as a background or setting whose hue is reflected over all our thinking. Let the mood be somber and dark, and all the world looks gloomy; on the other hand, let the mood be bright and cheerful, and the world puts on a smile.
It is told of one of the early circuit riders among the New England ministry, that he made the following entries in his diary, thus well illustrating the point: "Wed. Eve. Arrived at the home of Bro. Brown late this evening, hungry and tired after a long day in the saddle. Had a bountiful supper of cold pork and beans, warm bread, bacon and eggs, coffee, and rich pastry. I go to rest feeling that my witness is clear; the future is bright; I feel called to a great and glorious work in this place. Bro. Brown's family are godly people." The next entry was as follows: "Thur. Morn. Awakened late this morning after a troubled night. I am very much depressed in soul; the way looks dark; far from feeling called to work among this people, I am beginning to doubt the safety of my own soul. I am afraid the desires of Bro. Brown and his family are set too much on carnal things." A dyspeptic is usually a pessimist, and an optimist always keeps a bright mood.
MOOD INFLUENCES OUR JUDGMENTS AND DECISIONS.—The prattle of children may be grateful music to our ears when we are in one mood, and excruciatingly discordant noise when we are in another. What appeals to us as a good practical joke one day, may seem a piece of unwarranted impertinence on another. A proposition which looks entirely plausible under the sanguine mood induced by a persuasive orator, may appear wholly untenable a few hours later. Decisions which seemed warranted when we were in an angry mood, often appear unwise or unjust when we have become more calm. Motives which easily impel us to action when the world looks bright, fail to move us when the mood is somber. The feelings of impending peril and calamity which are an inevitable accompaniment of the "blues," are speedily dissipated when the sun breaks through the clouds and we are ourselves again.
MOOD INFLUENCES EFFORT.—A bright and hopeful mood quickens every power and enhances every effort, while a hopeless mood limits power and cripples effort. The football team which goes into the game discouraged never plays to the limit. The student who attacks his lesson under the conviction of defeat can hardly hope to succeed, while the one who enters upon his work confident of his power to master it has the battle already half won. The world's best work is done not by those who live in the shadow of discouragement and doubt, but by those in whose breast hope springs eternal. The optimist is a benefactor of the race if for no other reason than the sheer contagion of his hopeful spirit; the pessimist contributes neither to the world's welfare nor its happiness. Youth's proverbial enthusiasm and dauntless energy rest upon the supreme hopefulness which characterizes the mood of the young. For these reasons, if for no other, the mood of the schoolroom should be one of happiness and good cheer.
DISPOSITION A RESULTANT OF MOODS.—The sum total of our moods gives us our disposition. Whether these are pleasant or unpleasant, cheerful or gloomy, will depend on the predominating character of the moods which enter into them. As well expect to gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles, as to secure a desirable disposition out of undesirable moods. A sunny disposition never comes from gloomy moods, nor a hopeful one out of the "blues." And it is our disposition, more than the power of our reason, which, after all, determines our desirability as friends and companions.
The person of surly disposition can hardly make a desirable companion, no matter what his intellectual qualities may be. We may live very happily with one who cannot follow the reasoning of a Newton, but it is hard to live with a person chronically subject to "black moods." Nor can we put the responsibility for our disposition off on our ancestors. It is not an inheritance, but a growth. Slowly, day by day, and mood by mood, we build up our disposition until finally it comes to characterize us.
TEMPERAMENT.—Some are, however, more predisposed to certain types of mood than are others. The organization of our nervous system which we get through heredity undoubtedly has much to do with the feeling tone into which we most easily fall. We call this predisposition temperament. On the effects of temperament, our ancestors must divide the responsibility with us. I say divide the responsibility, for even if we find ourselves predisposed toward a certain undesirable type of moods, there is no reason why we should give up to them. Even in spite of hereditary predispositions, we can still largely determine for ourselves what our moods are to be.
If we have a tendency toward cheerful, quiet, and optimistic moods, the psychologist names our temperament the sanguine; if we are tense, easily excited and irritable, with a tendency toward sullen or angry moods, the choleric; if we are given to frequent fits of the "blues," if we usually look on the dark side of things and have a tendency toward moods of discouragement and the "dumps," the melancholic; if hard to rouse, and given to indolent and indifferent moods, the phlegmatic. Whatever be our temperament, it is one of the most important factors in our character.
3. PERMANENT FEELING ATTITUDES, OR SENTIMENTS
Besides the more or less transitory feeling states which we have called moods, there exists also a class of feeling attitudes, which contain more of the complex intellectual element, are withal of rather a higher nature, and much more permanent than our moods. We may call these our sentiments, or attitudes. Our sentiments comprise the somewhat constant level of feeling combined with cognition, which we name sympathy, friendship, love, patriotism, religious faith, selfishness, pride, vanity, etc. Like our dispositions, our sentiments are a growth of months and years. Unlike our dispositions, however, our sentiments are relatively independent of the physiological undertone, and depend more largely upon long-continued experience and intellectual elements as a basis. A sluggish liver might throw us into an irritable mood and, if the condition were long continued, might result in a surly disposition; but it would hardly permanently destroy one's patriotism and make him turn traitor to his country. One's feeling attitude on such matters is too deep seated to be modified by changing whims.
HOW SENTIMENTS DEVELOP.—Sentiments have their beginning in concrete experiences in which feeling is a predominant element, and grow through the multiplication of these experiences much as the concept is developed through many percepts. There is a residual element left behind each separate experience in both cases. In the case of the concept the residual element is intellectual, and in the case of the sentiment it is a complex in which the feeling element is predominant.
How this comes about is easily seen by means of an illustration or two. The mother feeds her child when he is hungry, and an agreeable feeling is produced; she puts him into the bath and snuggles him in her arms, and the experiences are pleasant. The child comes to look upon the mother as one whose especial function is to make things pleasant for him, so he comes to be happy in her presence, and long for her in her absence. He finally grows to love his mother not alone for the countless times she has given him pleasure, but for what she herself is. The feelings connected at first wholly with pleasant experiences coming through the ministrations of the mother, strengthened no doubt by instinctive tendencies toward affection, and later enhanced by a fuller realization of what a mother's care and sacrifice mean, grow at last into a deep, forceful, abiding sentiment of love for the mother.
THE EFFECT OF EXPERIENCE.—Likewise with the sentiment of patriotism. In so far as our patriotism is a true patriotism and not a noisy clamor, it had its rise in feelings of gratitude and love when we contemplated the deeds of heroism and sacrifice for the flag, and the blessings which come to us from our relations as citizens to our country. If we have had concrete cases brought to our experience, as, for example, our property saved from destruction at the hands of a mob or our lives saved from a hostile foreign foe, the patriotic sentiment will be all the stronger.
So we may carry the illustration into all the sentiments. Our religious sentiments of adoration, love, and faith have their origin in our belief in the care, love, and support from a higher Being typified to us as children by the care, love, and support of our parents. Pride arises from the appreciation or over-appreciation of oneself, his attainments, or his belongings. Selfishness has its genesis in the many instances in which pleasure results from ministering to self. In all these cases it is seen that our sentiments develop out of our experiences: they are the permanent but ever-growing results which we have to show for experiences which are somewhat long continued, and in which a certain feeling quality is a strong accompaniment of the cognitive part of the experience.
THE INFLUENCE OF SENTIMENT.—Our sentiments, like our dispositions, are not only a natural growth from the experiences upon which they are fed, but they in turn have large influence in determining the direction of our further development. Our sentiments furnish the soil which is either favorable or hostile to the growth of new experiences. One in whom the sentiment of true patriotism is deep-rooted will find it much harder to respond to a suggestion to betray his country's honor on battlefield, in legislative hall, or in private life, than one lacking in this sentiment. The boy who has a strong sentiment of love for his mother will find this a restraining influence in the face of temptation to commit deeds which would wound her feelings. A deep and abiding faith in God is fatal to the growth of pessimism, distrust, and a self-centered life. One's sentiments are a safe gauge of his character. Let us know a man's attitude or sentiments on religion, morality, friendship, honesty, and the other great questions of life, and little remains to be known. If he is right on these, he may well be trusted in other things; if he is wrong on these, there is little to build upon.
Literature has drawn its best inspiration and choicest themes from the field of our sentiments. The sentiment of friendship has given us our David and Jonathan, our Damon and Pythias, and our Tennyson and Hallam. The sentiment of love has inspired countless masterpieces; without its aid most of our fiction would lose its plot, and most of our poetry its charm. Religious sentiment inspired Milton to write the world's greatest epic, "Paradise Lost." The sentiment of patriotism has furnished an inexhaustible theme for the writer and the orator. Likewise if we go into the field of music and art, we find that the best efforts of the masters are clustered around some human sentiment which has appealed to them, and which they have immortalized by expressing it on canvas or in marble, that it may appeal to others and cause the sentiment to grow in us.
SENTIMENTS AS MOTIVES.—The sentiments furnish the deepest, the most constant, and the most powerful motives which control our lives. Such sentiments as patriotism, liberty, and religion have called a thousand armies to struggle and die on ten thousand battlefields, and have given martyrs courage to suffer in the fires of persecution. Sentiments of friendship and love have prompted countless deeds of self-sacrifice and loving devotion. Sentiments of envy, pride, and jealousy have changed the boundary lines of nations, and have prompted the committing of ten thousand unnamable crimes. Slowly day by day from the cradle to the grave we are weaving into our lives the threads of sentiment, which at last become so many cables to bind us to good or evil.
4. PROBLEMS IN OBSERVATION AND INTROSPECTION
1. Are you subject to the "blues," or other forms of depressed feeling? Are your moods very changeable, or rather constant? What kind of a disposition do you think you have? How did you come by it; that is, in how far is it due to hereditary temperament, and in how far to your daily moods?
2. Can you recall an instance in which some undesirable mood was caused by your physical condition? By some disturbing mental condition? What is your characteristic mood in the morning after sleeping in an ill-ventilated room? After sitting for half a day in an ill-ventilated schoolroom? After eating indigestible food before going to bed?
3. Observe a number of children or your classmates closely and see whether you can determine the characteristic mood of each. Observe several different schools and see whether you can note a characteristic mood for each room. Try to determine the causes producing the differences noted. (Physical conditions in the room, personality of the teacher, methods of governing, teaching, etc.)
4. When can you do your best work, when you are happy, or unhappy? Cheerful, or "blue"? Confident and hopeful, or discouraged? In a spirit of harmony and cooeperation with your teacher, or antagonistic? Now relate your conclusions to the type of atmosphere that should prevail in the schoolroom or the home. Formulate a statement as to why the "spirit" of the school is all-important. (Effect on effort, growth, disposition, sentiments, character, etc.)
5. Can you measure more or less accurately the extent to which your feelings serve as motives in your life? Are feelings alone a safe guide to action? Make a list of the important sentiments that should be cultivated in youth. Now show how the work of the school may be used to strengthen worthy sentiments.
Feeling and emotion are not to be looked upon as two different kinds of mental processes. In fact, emotion is but a feeling state of a high degree of intensity and complexity. Emotion transcends the simpler feeling states whenever the exciting cause is sufficient to throw us out of our regular routine of affective experience. The distinction between emotion and feeling is a purely arbitrary one, since the difference is only one of complexity and degree, and many feelings may rise to the intensity of emotions. A feeling of sadness on hearing of a number of fatalities in a railway accident may suddenly become an emotion of grief if we learn that a member of our family is among those killed. A feeling of gladness may develop into an emotion of joy, or a feeling of resentment be kindled into an emotion of rage.
1. THE PRODUCING AND EXPRESSING OF EMOTION
Nowhere more than in connection with our emotions are the close inter-relations of mind and body seen. All are familiar with the fact that the emotion of anger tends to find expression in the blow, love in the caress, fear in flight, and so on. But just how our organism acts in producing an emotion is less generally understood. Professor James and Professor Lange have shown us that emotion not only tends to produce some characteristic form of response, but that the emotion is itself caused by certain deep-seated physiological reactions. Let us seek to understand this statement a little more fully.
PHYSIOLOGICAL EXPLANATION OF EMOTION.—We must remember first of all that all changes in mental states are accompanied by corresponding physiological changes. Hard, concentrated thinking quickens the heart beat; keen attention is accompanied by muscular tension; certain sights or sounds increase the rate of breathing; offensive odors produce nausea, and so on. So complete and perfect is the response of our physical organism to mental changes that one psychologist declares it possible, had we sufficiently delicate apparatus, to measure the reactions caused throughout the body of a sleeping child by the shadow from a passing cloud falling upon the closed eyelids.
The order of the entire event resulting in an emotion is as follows: (1) Something is known; some object enters consciousness coming either from immediate perception or through memory or imagination. This fact, or thing known, must be of such nature that it will, (2) set up deep-seated and characteristic organic response; (3) the feeling accompanying and caused by these physiological reactions constitutes the emotion. For example, we may be passing along the street in a perfectly calm and equable state of mind, when we come upon a teamster who is brutally beating an exhausted horse because it is unable to draw an overloaded wagon up a slippery incline. The facts grasped as we take in the situation constitute the first element in an emotional response developing in our consciousness. But instantly our muscles begin to grow tense, the heart beat and breath quicken, the face takes on a different expression, the hands clench—the entire organism is reacting to the disturbing situation; the second factor in the rising emotion, the physiological response, thus appears. Along with our apprehension of the cruelty and the organic disturbances which result we feel waves of indignation and anger surging through us. This is the third factor in the emotional event, or the emotion itself. In some such way as this are all of our emotions aroused.
ORIGIN OF CHARACTERISTIC EMOTIONAL REACTIONS.—Why do certain facts or objects of consciousness always cause certain characteristic organic responses?
In order to solve this problem we shall have first to go beyond the individual and appeal to the history of the race. What the race has found serviceable, the individual repeats. But even then it is hard to see why the particular type of physical response such as shrinking, pallor, and trembling, which naturally follow stimuli threatening harm, should be the best. It is easy to see, however, that the feeling which prompts to flight or serves to deter from harm's way might be useful. It is plain that there is an advantage in the tense muscle, the set teeth, the held breath, and the quickened pulse which accompany the emotion of anger, and also in the feeling of anger itself, which prompts to the conflict. But even if we are not able in every case to determine at this day why all the instinctive responses and their correlate of feeling were the best for the life of the race, we may be sure that such was the case; for Nature is inexorable in her dictates that only that shall persist which has proved serviceable in the largest number of cases.
An interesting question arises at this point as to why we feel emotion accompanying some of our motor responses, and not others. Perceptions are crowding in upon us hour after hour; memory, thought, and imagination are in constant play; and a continuous motor discharge results each moment in physical expressions great or small. Yet, in spite of these facts, feeling which is strong enough to rise to an emotion is only an occasional thing. If emotion accompanies any form of physical expression, why not all? Let us see whether we can discover any reason. One day I saw a boy leading a dog along the street. All at once the dog slipped the string over its head and ran away. The boy stood looking after the dog for a moment, and then burst into a fit of rage. What all had happened? The moment before the dog broke away everything was running smoothly in the experience of the boy. There was no obstruction to his thought or his plans. Then in an instant the situation changes. The smooth flow of experience is checked and baffled. The discharge of nerve currents which meant thought, plans, action, is blocked. A crisis has arisen which requires readjustment. The nerve currents must flow in new directions, giving new thought, new plans, new activities—the dog must be recaptured. It is in connection with this damming up of nerve currents from following their wonted channels that the emotion emerges. Or, putting it into mental terms, the emotion occurs when the ordinary current of our thought is violently disturbed—when we meet with some crisis which necessitates a readjustment of our thought relations and plans, either temporarily or permanently.
THE DURATION OF AN EMOTION.—If the required readjustment is but temporary, then the emotion is short-lived, while if the readjustment is necessarily of longer duration, the emotion also will live longer. The fear which follows the thunder is relatively brief; for the shock is gone in a moment, and our thought is but temporarily disturbed. If the impending danger is one that persists, however, as of some secret assassin threatening our life, the fear also will persist. The grief of a child over the loss of someone dear to him is comparatively short, because the current of the child's life has not been so closely bound up in a complexity of experiences with the lost object as in the case of an older person, and hence the readjustment is easier. The grief of an adult over the loss of a very dear friend lasts long, for the object grieved over has so become a part of the bereaved one's experience that the loss requires a very complete readjustment of the whole life. In either case, however, as this readjustment is accomplished the emotion gradually fades away.
EMOTIONS ACCOMPANYING CRISES IN EXPERIENCE.—If our description of the feelings has been correct, it will be seen that the simpler and milder feelings are for the common run of our everyday experience; they are the common valuers of our thought and acts from hour to hour. The emotions, or more intense feeling states, are, however, the occasional high tide of feeling which occurs in crises or emergencies. We are angry on some particular provocation, we fear some extraordinary factor in our environment, we are joyful over some unusual good fortune.
2. THE CONTROL OF EMOTIONS
DEPENDENCE ON EXPRESSION.—Since all emotions rest upon some form of physical or physiological expression primarily, and upon some thought back of this secondarily, it follows that the first step in controlling an emotion is to secure the removal of the state of consciousness which serves as its basis. This may be done, for instance, with a child, either by banishing the terrifying dog from his presence, or by convincing him that the dog is harmless. The motor response will then cease, and the emotion pass away. If the thought is persistent, however, through the continuance of its stimulus, then what remains is to seek to control the physical expression, and in that way suppress the emotion. If, instead of the knit brow, the tense muscles, the quickened heart beat, and all the deeper organic changes which go along with these, we can keep a smile on the face, the muscles relaxed, the heart beat steady, and a normal condition in all the other organs, we shall have no cause to fear an explosion of anger. If we are afraid of mice and feel an almost irresistible tendency to mount a chair every time we see a mouse, we can do wonders in suppressing the fear by resolutely refusing to give expression to these tendencies. Inhibition of the expression inevitably means the death of the emotion.
This fact has its bad side as well as its good in the feeling life, for it means that good emotions as well as bad will fade out if we fail to allow them expression. We are all perfectly familiar with the fact in our own experience that an interest which does not find means of expression soon passes away. Sympathy unexpressed ere long passes over into indifference. Even love cannot live without expression. Religious emotion which does not go out in deeds of service cannot persist. The natural end and aim of our emotions is to serve as motives to activity; and missing this opportunity, they have not only failed in their office, but will themselves die of inaction.
RELIEF THROUGH EXPRESSION.—Emotional states not only have their rise in organic reactions, but they also tend to result in acts. When we are angry, or in love, or in fear, we have the impulse to do something about it. And, while it is true that emotion may be inhibited by suppressing the physical expressions on which it is founded, so may a state of emotional tension be relieved by some forms of expression. None have failed to experience the relief which comes to the overcharged nervous system from a good cry. There is no sorrow so bitter as a dry sorrow, when one cannot weep. A state of anger or annoyance is relieved by an explosion of some kind, whether in a blow or its equivalent in speech. We often feel better when we have told a man "what we think of him."
At first glance this all seems opposed to what we have been laying down as the explanation of emotion. Yet it is not so if we look well into the case. We have already seen that emotion occurs when there is a blocking of the usual pathways of discharge for the nerve currents, which must then seek new outlets, and thus result in the setting up of new motor responses. In the case of grief, for example, there is a disturbance in the whole organism; the heart beat is deranged, the blood pressure diminished, and the nerve tone lowered. What is needed is for the currents which are finding an outlet in directions resulting in these particular responses to find a pathway of discharge which will not produce such deep-seated results. This may be found in crying. The energy thus expended is diverted from producing internal disturbances. Likewise, the explosion in anger may serve to restore the equilibrium of disturbed nerve currents.
RELIEF DOES NOT FOLLOW IF IMAGE IS HELD BEFORE THE MIND.—All this is true, however, only when the expression does not serve to keep the idea before the mind which was originally responsible for the emotion. A person may work himself into a passion of anger by beginning to talk about an insult and, as he grows increasingly violent, bringing the situation more and more sharply into his consciousness. The effect of terrifying images is easily to be observed in the case of one's starting to run when he is afraid after night. There is probably no doubt that the running would relieve his fear providing he could do it and not picture the threatening something as pursuing him. But, with his imagination conjuring up dire images of frightful catastrophes at every step, all control is lost and fresh waves of terror surge over the shrinking soul.
GROWING TENDENCY TOWARD EMOTIONAL CONTROL.—Among civilized peoples there is a constantly growing tendency toward emotional control. Primitive races express grief, joy, fear, or anger much more freely than do civilized races. This does not mean that primitive man feels more deeply than civilized man; for, as we have already seen, the crying, laughing, or blustering is but a small part of the whole physical expression, and one's entire organism may be stirred to its depths without any of these outward manifestations. Man has found it advisable as he has advanced in civilization not to reveal all he feels to those around him. The face, which is the most expressive part of the body, has come to be under such perfect control that it is hard to read through it the emotional state, although the face of civilized man is capable of expressing far more than is that of the savage. The same difference is observable between the child and the adult. The child reveals each passing shade of emotion through his expression, while the adult may feel much that he does not show.
3. CULTIVATION OF THE EMOTIONS
There is no other mental factor which has more to do with the enjoyment we get out of life than our feelings and emotions.
THE EMOTIONS AND ENJOYMENT.—Few of us would care to live at all, if all feeling were eliminated from human experience. True, feeling often makes us suffer; but in so far as life's joys triumph over its woes, do our feelings minister to our enjoyment. Without sympathy, love, and appreciation, life would be barren indeed. Moreover, it is only through our own emotional experience that we are able to interpret the feeling side of the lives about us. Failing in this, we miss one of the most significant phases of social experience, and are left with our own sympathies undeveloped and our life by so much impoverished.
The interpretation of the subtler emotions of those about us is in no small degree an art. The human face and form present a constantly changing panorama of the soul's feeling states to those who can read their signs. The ability to read the finer feelings, which reveal themselves in expression too delicate to be read by the eye of the gross or unsympathetic observer, lies at the basis of all fine interpretation of personality. Feelings are often too deep for outward expression, and we are slow to reveal our deepest selves to those who cannot appreciate and understand them.
HOW EMOTIONS DEVELOP.—Emotions are to be cultivated as the intellect or the muscles are to be cultivated; namely, through proper exercise. Our thought is to dwell on those things to which proper emotions attach, and to shun lines which would suggest emotions of an undesirable type. Emotions which are to be developed must, as has already been said, find expression; we must act in response to their leadings, else they become but idle vaporings. If love prompts us to say a kind word to a suffering fellow mortal, the word must be spoken or the feeling itself fades away. On the other hand, the emotions which we wish to suppress are to be refused expression. The unkind and cutting word is to be left unsaid when we are angry, and the fear of things which are harmless left unexpressed and thereby doomed to die.
THE EMOTIONAL FACTOR IN OUR ENVIRONMENT.—Much material for the cultivation of our emotions lies in the everyday life all about us if we can but interpret it. Few indeed of those whom we meet daily but are hungering for appreciation and sympathy. Lovable traits exist in every character, and will reveal themselves to the one who looks for them. Miscarriages of justice abound on all sides, and demand our indignation and wrath and the effort to right the wrong. Evil always exists to be hated and suppressed, and dangers to be feared and avoided. Human life and the movement of human affairs constantly appeal to the feeling side of our nature if we understand at all what life and action mean.
A certain blindness exists in many people, however, which makes our own little joys, or sorrows, or fears the most remarkable ones in the world, and keeps us from realizing that others may feel as deeply as we. Of course this self-centered attitude of mind is fatal to any true cultivation of the emotions. It leads to an emotional life which lacks not only breadth and depth, but also perspective.
LITERATURE AND THE CULTIVATION OF THE EMOTIONS.—In order to increase our facility in the interpretation of the emotions through teaching us what to look for in life and experience, we may go to literature. Here we find life interpreted for us in the ideal by masters of interpretation; and, looking through their eyes, we see new depths and breadths of feeling which we had never before discovered. Indeed, literature deals far more in the aggregate with the feeling side than with any other aspect of human life. And it is just this which makes literature a universal language, for the language of our emotions is more easily interpreted than that of our reason. The smile, the cry, the laugh, the frown, the caress, are understood all around the world among all peoples. They are universal.
There is always this danger to be avoided, however. We may become so taken up with the overwrought descriptions of the emotions as found in literature or on the stage that the common humdrum of everyday life around us seems flat and stale. The interpretation of the writer or the actor is far beyond what we are able to make for ourselves, so we take their interpretation rather than trouble ourselves to look in our own environment for the material which might appeal to our emotions. It is not rare to find those who easily weep over the woes of an imaginary person in a book or on the stage unable to feel sympathy for the real suffering which exists all around them. The story is told of a lady at the theater who wept over the suffering of the hero in the play; and at the moment she was shedding the unnecessary tears, her own coachman, whom she had compelled to wait for her in the street, was frozen to death. Our seemingly prosaic environment is full of suggestions to the emotional life, and books and plays should only help to develop in us the power rightly to respond to these suggestions.
HARM IN EMOTIONAL OVEREXCITEMENT.—Danger may exist also in still another line; namely, that of emotional overexcitement. There is a great nervous strain in high emotional tension. Nothing is more exhausting than a severe fit of anger; it leaves its victim weak and limp. A severe case of fright often incapacitates one for mental or physical labor for hours, or it may even result in permanent injury. The whole nervous tone is distinctly lowered by sorrow, and even excessive joy may be harmful.
In our actual, everyday life, there is little danger from emotional overexcitement unless it be in the case of fear in children, as was shown in the discussion on instincts, and in that of grief over the loss of objects that are dear to us. Most of our childish fears we could just as well avoid if our elders were wiser in the matter of guarding us against those that are unnecessary. The griefs we cannot hope to escape, although we can do much to control them. Long-continued emotional excitement, unless it is followed by corresponding activity, gives us those who weep over the wrongs of humanity, but never do anything to right them; who are sorry to the point of death over human suffering, but cannot be induced to lend their aid to its alleviation. We could very well spare a thousand of those in the world who merely feel, for one who acts, James tells us.
We should watch, then, that our good feelings do not simply evaporate as feelings, but that they find some place to apply themselves to accomplish good; that we do not, like Hamlet, rave over wrongs which need to be righted, but never bring ourselves to the point where we take a hand in their righting. If our emotional life is to be rich and deep in its feeling and effective in its results on our acts and character, it must find its outlet in deeds.
4. EMOTIONS AS MOTIVES
Emotion is always dynamic, and our feelings constitute our strongest motives to action and achievement.
HOW OUR EMOTIONS COMPEL US.—Love has often done in the reformation of a fallen life what strength of will was not able to accomplish; it has caused dynasties to fall, and has changed the map of nations. Hatred is a motive hardly less strong. Fear will make savage beasts out of men who fall under its sway, causing them to trample helpless women and children under feet, whom in their saner moments they would protect with their lives. Anger puts out all the light of reason, and prompts peaceful and well-meaning men to commit murderous acts.
Thus feeling, from the faintest and simplest feeling of interest, the various ranges of pleasures and pain, the sentiments which underlie all our lives, and so on to the mighty emotions which grip our lives with an overpowering strength, constitutes a large part of the motive power which is constantly urging us on to do and dare. Hence it is important from this standpoint, also, that we should have the right type of feelings and emotions well developed, and the undesirable ones eliminated.
EMOTIONAL HABITS.—Emotion and feeling are partly matters of habit. That is, we can form emotional as well as other habits, and they are as hard to break. Anger allowed to run uncontrolled leads into habits of angry outbursts, while the one who habitually controls his temper finds it submitting to the habit of remaining within bounds. One may cultivate the habit of showing his fear on all occasions, or of discouraging its expression. He may form the habit of jealousy or of confidence. It is possible even to form the habit of falling in love, or of so suppressing the tender emotions that love finds little opportunity for expression.
And here, as elsewhere, habits are formed through performing the acts upon which the habit rests. If there are emotional habits we are desirous of forming, what we have to do is to indulge the emotional expression of the type we desire, and the habit will follow. If we wish to form the habit of living in a chronic state of the blues, then all we have to do is to be blue and act blue sufficiently, and this form of emotional expression will become a part of us. If we desire to form the habit of living in a happy, cheerful state, we can accomplish this by encouraging the corresponding expression.
5. PROBLEMS IN OBSERVATION AND INTROSPECTION
1. What are the characteristic bodily expressions by which you can recognize a state of anger? Fear? Jealousy? Hatred? Love? Grief? Do you know persons who are inclined to be too expressive emotionally? Who show too little emotional expression? How would you classify yourself in this respect?
2. Are you naturally responsive to the emotional tone of others; that is, are you sympathetic? Are you easily affected by reading emotional books? By emotional plays or other appeals? What is the danger from overexciting the emotions without giving them a proper outlet in some practical activity?
3. Have you observed a tendency among adults not to take seriously the emotions of a child; for example, to look upon childish grief as trivial, or fear as something to be laughed at? Is the child's emotional life as real as that of the adult? (See Ch. IX, Betts, "Fathers and Mothers.")
4. Have you known children to repress their emotions for fear of being laughed at? Have you known parents or others to remark about childish love affairs to the children themselves in a light or joking way? Ought this ever to be done?
5. Note certain children who give way to fits of anger; what is the remedy? Note other children who cry readily; what would you suggest as a cure? (Why should ridicule not be used?)
6. Have you observed any teacher using the lesson in literature or history to cultivate the finer emotions? What emotions have you seen appealed to by a lesson in nature study? What emotions have you observed on the playground that needed restraint? Do you think that on the whole the emotional life of the child receives enough consideration in the school? In the home?
The feeling that we call interest is so important a motive in our lives and so colors our acts and gives direction to our endeavors that we will do well to devote a chapter to its discussion.
1. THE NATURE OF INTEREST
We saw in an earlier chapter that personal habits have their rise in race habits or instincts. Let us now see how interest helps the individual to select from his instinctive acts those which are useful to build into personal habits. Instinct impartially starts the child in the performance of many different activities, but does not dictate what particular acts shall be retained to serve as the basis for habits. Interest comes in at this point and says, "This act is of more value than that act; continue this act and drop that." Instinct prompts the babe to countless movements of body and limb. Interest picks out those that are most vitally connected with the welfare of the organism, and the child comes to prefer these rather than the others. Thus it is that out of the random movements of arms and legs and head and body we finally develop the cooerdinated activities which are infinitely more useful than the random ones were. And these activities, originating in instincts, and selected by interest, are soon crystallized into habits.
INTEREST A SELECTIVE AGENT.—The same truth holds for mental activities as for physical. A thousand channels lie open for your stream of thought at this moment, but your interest has beckoned it into the one particular channel which, for the time, at least, appears to be of the greatest subjective value; and it is now following that channel unless your will has compelled it to leave that for another. Your thinking as naturally follows your interest as the needle does the magnet, hence your thought activities are conditioned largely by your interests. This is equivalent to saying that your mental habits rest back finally upon your interests.
Everyone knows what it is to be interested; but interest, like other elementary states of consciousness, cannot be rigidly defined. (1) Subjectively considered, interest may be looked upon as a feeling attitude which assigns our activities their place in a subjective scale of values, and hence selects among them. (2) Objectively considered, an interest is the object which calls forth the feeling. (3) Functionally considered, interest is the dynamic phase of consciousness.
INTEREST SUPPLIES A SUBJECTIVE SCALE OF VALUES.—If you are interested in driving a horse rather than in riding a bicycle, it is because the former has a greater subjective value to you than the latter. If you are interested in reading these words instead of thinking about the next social function or the last picnic party, it is because at this moment the thought suggested appeals to you as of more value than the other lines of thought. From this it follows that your standards of values are revealed in the character of your interests. The young man who is interested in the race track, in gaming, and in low resorts confesses by the fact that these things occupy a high place among the things which appeal to him as subjectively valuable. The mother whose interests are chiefly in clubs and other social organizations places these higher in her scale of values than her home. The reader who can become interested only in light, trashy literature must admit that matter of this type ranks higher in his subjective scale of values than the works of the masters. Teachers and students whose strongest interest is in grade marks value these more highly than true attainment. For, whatever may be our claims or assertions, interest is finally an infallible barometer of the values we assign to our activities.
In the case of some of our feelings it is not always possible to ascribe an objective side to them. A feeling of ennui, of impending evil, or of bounding vivacity, may be produced by an unanalyzable complex of causes. But interest, while it is related primarily to the activities of the self, is carried over from the activity to the object which occasions the activity. That is, interest has both an objective and a subjective side. On the subjective side a certain activity connected with self-expression is worth so much; on the objective side a certain object is worth so much as related to this self-expression. Thus we say, I have an interest in books or in business; my daily activities, my self-expression, are governed with reference to these objects. They are my interests.
INTEREST DYNAMIC.—Many of our milder feelings terminate within ourselves, never attaining sufficient force as motives to impel us to action. Not so with interest. Its very nature is dynamic. Whatever it seizes upon becomes ipso facto an object for some activity, for some form of expression of the self. Are we interested in a new book, we must read it; in a new invention, we must see it, handle it, test it; in some vocation or avocation, we must pursue it. Interest is impulsive. It gives its possessor no opportunity for lethargic rest and quiet, but constantly urges him to action. Grown ardent, interest becomes enthusiasm, "without which," says Emerson, "nothing great was ever accomplished." Are we an Edison, with a strong interest centered in mechanical invention, it will drive us day and night in a ceaseless activity which scarcely gives us time for food and sleep. Are we a Lincoln, with an undying interest in the Union, this motive will make possible superhuman efforts for the accomplishment of our end. Are we man or woman anywhere, in any walk of life, so we are dominated by mighty interests grown into enthusiasm for some object, we shall find great purposes growing within us, and our life will be one of activity and achievement. On the contrary, a life which has developed no great interest lacks motive power. Of necessity such a life must be devoid of purpose and hence barren of results, counting little while it is being lived, and little missed by the world when it is gone.
HABIT ANTAGONISTIC TO INTEREST.—While, as we have seen, interest is necessary to the formation of habits, yet habits once formed are antagonistic to interest. That is, acts which are so habitually performed that they "do themselves" are accompanied by a minimum of interest. They come to be done without attentive consciousness, hence interest cannot attach to their performance. Many of the activities which make up the daily round of our lives are of this kind. As long as habit is being modified in some degree, as long as we are improving in our ways of doing things, interest will still cling to the process; but let us once settle into an unmodified rut, and interest quickly fades away. We then have the conditions present which make of us either a machine or a drudge.
2. DIRECT AND INDIRECT INTEREST
We may have an interest either (1) in the doing of an act, or (2) in the end sought through the doing. In the first instance we call the interest immediate or direct; in the second instance, mediate or indirect.
INTEREST IN THE END VERSUS INTEREST IN THE ACTIVITY.—If we do not find an interest in the doing of our work, or if it has become positively disagreeable so that we loathe its performance, then there must be some ultimate end for which the task is being performed, and in which there is a strong interest, else the whole process will be the veriest drudgery. If the end is sufficiently interesting it may serve to throw a halo of interest over the whole process connected with it. The following instance illustrates this fact:
A twelve-year-old boy was told by his father that if he would make the body of an automobile at his bench in the manual training school, the father would purchase the running gear for it and give the machine to the boy. In order to secure the coveted prize, the boy had to master the arithmetic necessary for making the calculations, and the drawing necessary for making the plans to scale before the teacher in manual training would allow him to take up the work of construction. The boy had always lacked interest in both arithmetic and drawing, and consequently was dull in them. Under the new incentive, however, he took hold of them with such avidity that he soon surpassed all the remainder of the class, and was able to make his calculations and drawings within a term. He secured his automobile a few months later, and still retained his interest in arithmetic and drawing.
INDIRECT INTEREST AS A MOTIVE.—Interest of the indirect type, which does not attach to the process, but comes from some more or less distant end, most of us find much less potent than interest which is immediate. This is especially true unless the end be one of intense desire and not too distant. The assurance to a boy that he must get his lessons well because he will need to be an educated man ten years hence when he goes into business for himself does not compensate for the lack of interest in the lessons of today.
Yet it is necessary in the economy of life that both children and adults should learn to work under the incitement of indirect interests. Much of the work we do is for an end which is more desirable than the work itself. It will always be necessary to sacrifice present pleasure for future good. Ability to work cheerfully for a somewhat distant end saves much of our work from becoming drudgery. If interest is removed from both the process and the end, no inducement is left to work except compulsion; and this, if continued, results in the lowest type of effort. It puts a man on a level with the beast of burden, which constantly shirks its work.
INDIRECT INTEREST ALONE INSUFFICIENT.—Interest coming from an end instead of inhering in the process may finally lead to an interest in the work itself; but if it does not, the worker is in danger of being left a drudge at last. To be more than a slave to his work one must ultimately find the work worth doing for its own sake. The man who performs his work solely because he has a wife and babies at home will never be an artist in his trade or profession; the student who masters a subject only because he must know it for an examination is not developing the traits of a scholar. The question of interest in the process makes the difference between the one who works because he loves to work and the one who toils because he must—it makes the difference between the artist and the drudge. The drudge does only what he must when he works, the artist all he can. The drudge longs for the end of labor, the artist for it to begin. The drudge studies how he may escape his labor, the artist how he may better his and ennoble it.
To labor when there is joy in the work is elevating, to labor under the lash of compulsion is degrading. It matters not so much what a man's occupation as how it is performed. A coachman driving his team down the crowded street better than anyone else could do it, and glorying in that fact, may be a true artist in his occupation, and be ennobled through his work. A statesman molding the affairs of a nation as no one else could do it, or a scholar leading the thought of his generation is subject to the same law; in order to give the best grade of service of which he is capable, man must find a joy in the performance of the work as well as in the end sought through its performance. No matter how high the position or how refined the work, the worker becomes a slave to his labor unless interest in its performance saves him.
3. TRANSITORINESS OF CERTAIN INTERESTS
Since our interests are always connected with our activities it follows that many interests will have their birth, grow to full strength, and then fade away as the corresponding instincts which are responsible for the activities pass through these same stages. This only means that interest in play develops at the time when the play activities are seeking expression; that interest in the opposite sex becomes strong when instinctive tendencies are directing the attention to the choice of a mate; and that interest in abstract studies comes when the development of the brain enables us to carry on logical trains of thought. All of us can recall many interests which were once strong, and are now weak or else have altogether passed away. Hide-and-seek, Pussy-wants-a-corner, excursions to the little fishing pond, securing the colored chromo at school, the care of pets, reading blood-and-thunder stories or sentimental ones—interest in these things belongs to our past, or has left but a faint shadow. Other interests have come, and these in turn will also disappear and other new ones yet appear as long as we keep on acquiring new experience.
INTERESTS MUST BE UTILIZED WHEN THEY APPEAR.—This means that we must take advantage of interests when they appear if we wish to utilize and develop them. How many people there are who at one time felt an interest impelling them to cultivate their taste for music, art, or literature and said they would do this at some convenient season, and finally found themselves without a taste for these things! How many of us have felt an interest in some benevolent work, but at last discovered that our inclination had died before we found time to help the cause! How many of us, young as we are, do not at this moment lament the passing of some interest from our lives, or are now watching the dying of some interest which we had fondly supposed was as stable as Gibraltar? The drawings of every interest which appeals to us is a voice crying, "Now is the appointed time!" What impulse urges us today to become or to do, we must begin at once to be or perform, if we would attain to the coveted end.
THE VALUE OF A STRONG INTEREST.—Nor are we to look upon these transitory interests as useless. They come to us not only as a race heritage, but they impel us to activities which are immediately useful, or else prepare us for the later battles of life. But even aside from this important fact it is worth everything just to be interested. For it is only through the impulsion of interest that we first learn to put forth effort in any true sense of the word, and interest furnishes the final foundation upon which volition rests. Without interest the greatest powers may slumber in us unawakened, and abilities capable of the highest attainment rest satisfied with commonplace mediocrity. No one will ever know how many Gladstones and Leibnitzes the world has lost simply because their interests were never appealed to in such a way as to start them on the road to achievement. It matters less what the interest be, so it be not bad, than that there shall be some great interest to compel endeavor, test the strength of endurance, and lead to habits of achievement.
4. SELECTION AMONG OUR INTERESTS
I said early in the discussion that interest is selective among our activities, picking out those which appear to be of the most value to us. In the same manner there must be a selection among our interests themselves.
THE MISTAKE OF FOLLOWING TOO MANY INTERESTS.—It is possible for us to become interested in so many lines of activity that we do none of them well. This leads to a life so full of hurry and stress that we forget life in our busy living. Says James with respect to the necessity of making a choice among our interests:
"With most objects of desire, physical nature restricts our choice to but one of many represented goods, and even so it is here. I am often confronted by the necessity of standing by one of my empirical selves and relinquishing the rest. Not that I would not, if I could, be both handsome and fat, and well dressed, and a great athlete, and make a million a year; be a wit, a bon vivant, and a lady-killer, as well as a philosopher; a philanthropist, statesman, warrior, and African explorer, as well as a 'tone poet' and saint. But the thing is simply impossible. The millionaire's work would run counter to the saint's; the bon vivant and the philosopher and the lady-killer could not well keep house in the same tenement of clay. Such different characters may conceivably at the outset of life be alike possible to man. But to make any one of them actual, the rest must more or less be suppressed. The seeker of his truest, strongest, deepest self must review the list carefully, and pick out the one on which to stake his salvation."
INTERESTS MAY BE TOO NARROW.—On the other hand, it is just as possible for our interests to be too narrow as too broad. The one who has cultivated no interests outside of his daily round of humdrum activities does not get enough out of life. It is possible to become so engrossed with making a living that we forget to live—to become so habituated to some narrow treadmill of labor with the limited field of thought suggested by its environment, that we miss the richest experiences of life. Many there are who live a barren, trivial, and self-centered life because they fail to see the significant and the beautiful which lie just beyond where their interests reach! Many there are so taken up with their own petty troubles that they have no heart or sympathy for fellow humanity! Many there are so absorbed with their own little achievements that they fail to catch step with the progress of the age!
SPECIALIZATION SHOULD NOT COME TOO EARLY.—It is not well to specialize too early in our interests. We miss too many rich fields which lie ready for the harvesting, and whose gleaning would enrich our lives. The student who is so buried in books that he has no time for athletic recreations or social diversions is making a mistake equally with the one who is so enthusiastic an athlete and social devotee that he neglects his studies. Likewise, the youth who is so taken up with the study of one particular line that he applies himself to this at the expense of all other lines is inviting a distorted growth. Youth is the time for pushing the sky line back on all sides; it is the time for cultivating diverse and varied lines of interests if we would grow into a rich experience in our later lives. The physical must be developed, but not at the expense of the mental, and vice versa. The social must not be neglected, but it must not be indulged to such an extent that other interests suffer. Interest in amusements and recreations should be cultivated, but these should never run counter to the moral and religious.
Specialization is necessary, but specialization in our interests should rest upon a broad field of fundamental interests, in order that the selection of the special line may be an intelligent one, and that our specialty shall not prove a rut in which we become so deeply buried that we are lost to the best in life.
A PROPER BALANCE TO BE SOUGHT.—It behooves us, then, to find a proper balance in cultivating our interests, making them neither too broad nor too narrow. We should deliberately seek to discover those which are strong enough to point the way to a life vocation, but this should not be done until we have had an opportunity to become acquainted with various lines of interests. Otherwise our decision in this important matter may be based merely on a whim.