Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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LI.
Recreation.
One of the best New Year resolutions you can
make is to utilize the days, or, rather, the
moments comprising the days, in a wise manner.
It is wonderful what can be accomplished if we do
not fritter away time--that most precious possession
which belongs to all men equally, and upon which
no trust or syndicate can obtain a "corner."
    No matter what regular occupation may employ
you daily, there are moments which can be used for
recreation, or mental improvement, if you are in
health.  A half hour given each day to reading will
astonish you at the end of six months with the num-
ber of volumes completed.
    Fifteen minutes before breakfast, fifteen minutes
after dinner will not be missed by you, if you make
your resolution to take them every day.
    You will find you have just as much time as you
had before you began this system, for you have
been frittering away more than those fifteen minutes
morning and night without being conscious of it.
    Then if you are musical, arrange to give twenty
minutes every day to sight reading.  You can man-
age it if you are determined to do so.
    I knew a busy young self-supporting woman who
had only a rudimentary knowledge of music to make
this resolution, and it was amazing to see the prog-
ress she made in one year's time.  With only twenty
minutes each day devoted to this one purpose, she
surpassed many professional musicians in her ability
to read difficult music at a glance.
    If your life is an indoor one on account of your
occupation, snatch five minutes after rising and ten
before retiring for physical exercises.  Any book
on physical culture will illustrate a few movements
for the development of the chest and the reduction
of superfluous flesh, and for the general benefit of
the whole system.
    If, on the contrary, your work is of an exhausting
nature, take a half hour or even fifteen minutes
some time during the day and sit or lie down and
relax your whole system.
    Do this regularly as you eat your dinner or
comb your hair.  Immense benefit to your whole
being, mental and physical, will result.
    Think of nothing--the most difficult thing to do,
but do it; or merely imagine yourself a plant grow-
ing in the soil and a sweet summer rain is dropping
upon you, washing and refreshing every leaf.
    You will rise indeed refreshed for your occupa-
tion.  With the exception of a time set apart for
thinking of nothing, teach yourself to always think
of something worth while the remainder of the day.
Many people going to and from their daily occupa-
tion, and indeed scores of people who have no occu-
pation, fall into a habit of shiftless thinking on the
street, or in public conveyances, or in idle moments
elsewhere.  The mind roams about like a lost leaf
in the wind, resting nowhere.
    Study the faces you see and try and form some
idea of the characters of their owners.  Notice ears,
noses, mouths, eyes, chins.  Observe how few
beautiful mouths and ears you will find compared
with other features.  It is an interesting use of your
mental powers, this study of faces, and will teach
you sympathy, if nothing more.
    If you find yourself without faces to study, then
memorize verses, phrases or numbers, to train your
memory.  Learn to recall the numbers of a dozen
or a score of your acquaintances' homes, instead of
always referring to an address book.
    Commit the words of songs to memory--even if
you do not sing, it will make you popular with peo-
ple who do; or memorize a dozen lines of prose from
the daily paper if you have nothing else at hand,
just for the practice.
    It is better than allowing your brain forces to
become weak and slipshod from lack of direction.
    Make the most of the odd ends of time and you
will make the most of yourself with little cost and
no loss.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
 

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