Excerpt and illustrations from Vitality Supreme by Bernarr Macfadden, 1915.
Each day of your life should be to a certain extent a fight for the best that there is in life and a struggle to hold the spine as nearly erect as possible. If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight, head back, chin in. If you are walking or standing, the same rule should apply. The more nearly you can assume the position which is sometimes criticized by the sarcastic statement that “He looks as though he had swallowed a poker,” the more nearly you will approximate the ideal position.
As will be shown in the succeeding chapter, it is not necessary to make extraordinary efforts to hold the shoulders back or to arch the chest. The one idea – chin in, down and backward – will accomplish all that is needed. The chest and shoulders will naturally take care of themselves.Furthermore, it is well to remember that this attitude in itself has a tremendous influence upon both the physical and mental organism. The mind, for instance, is affected to an extraordinary degree by this position. It quickens the reasoning capacity, helps to clear the brain of “cobwebs” and unquestionably adds to one’s courage. The man who is afraid hangs his head. He who is void of fear holds his head erect, “looks the world in the face!” There is no question that if a man without fear were to assume the position of fear, with hanging head and shrinking body, he would quickly find himself stirred by the emotions associated with such a posture. He would soon “get scared!” In fact the attitude of the body has so much to do with one’s mental and emotional state that the question of self-confidence or lack of confidence may often be decided simply by throwing your head up and back and assuming the general bodily posture that goes with confidence. It not only expresses confidence: it also develops confidence. There is a great truth here that psychologists and those who write “character building” books have not sufficiently understood or emphasized. And when you feel discouraged, the best way to overcome the sense of depression is to “brace up” physically. It will help you to “brace up” mentally. Try it.