Put more mind in that shovel

Here’s an interesting quote by Prentice Mulford:

“A principal means for holding and increasing both physical and mental strength lies in the training of the mind and body to do but one thing at a time; in other words, to put all the thought necessary for the performance of any act in that act, and to put aside all other thought whatever save what belongs to that act.

The body is but the machine used by the mind. If it be weak, the power of our thought may be largely used and almost uselessly expended in resisting its weakness. The mind is then the workman endeavoring to carry out his design with an imperfect tool. Eventually, this defective tool may derange and destroy entirely the workman’s power. Strength of mind and body is the corner‑stone of all enjoyment and success. The weak body enjoys little or nothing.

Our bodies are reservoirs of force. Eating and sleeping are means for filling up with that force; in other words, for filling up with thought. When so filled up we enjoy our walk, our business, our effort of any kind. What is most desirable for all to know is, how to retain the most of that force during our waking hours and if possible to increase it; because this force has a commercial value in dollars and cents. The weak and exhausted body is neither the body for “business” or pleasure, and all business is best done when it is a pleasure to do it.

An old system of philosophy says, “What thou doest, that do with all thy might.”

Not the spasmodic, fleeting might of fury or anger. That is not might at all. That is waste of strength. It implies that every act of our lives, from the tying of a shoe‑string, the forming of a letter, or the sharpening of a pencil, should be done with the might of method, precision, exactness, care; in brief, the might of concentration. When a boy, I was doing my first day’s shovelling in the California gold‑diggings. An old miner said to me, “Young man, you make too hard work of shovelling: you want to put more mind in that shovel.”

Pondering over this remark, I found that shovelling dirt needed co‑operation of mind with muscle,—mind to give direction to muscle; mind to place the shovel’s point where it should scoop up most dirt with least outlay of strength; mind to give direction to the dirt as thrown from the shovel; and infinitesimal portions of mind, so to speak, in the movement of every muscle brought into play while shovelling. I found that the more thought I put in the shovel the better could I shovel: the less like work it became, the more like play it became, and the longer my strength for shovelling lasted. I found when my thought drifted on other things (no matter what), that soon the less strength and enjoyment had I for shovelling, and the sooner it became an irksome task.”

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