Below is the first chapter from the booklet, Relax written by Leonard M. Leonard.
Originally published in 1952, I’ve updated the illustrations but left all the text as it is in my version of the booklet. Further chapters will be released throughout the year. I trust you’ll find its suggestions as amusing and useful as I have.
RELAX — AND WIN
Do you want to do a better job — or play a better game of cards? Learn to relax.
Do you want to enjoy a calmer, happier home life with new freedom from worry and fatigue? The answer is the same — learn to relax.
Relaxation is the art of dropping tension. You can do almost everything better if you do it with less tension, by being as relaxed as you possibly can be. For tension is a tightening-up of the nerves and muscles inside of you which makes them respond poorly to the tasks they have to do.
Prolonged tension may affect the body organs, too, and is believed to be responsible, wholly or partially, for many bodily ills — among them heart, stomach and nervous ailments and certain types of high blood pressure. Even our sexual lives can be greatly weakened by tension.
When you are tense, your mind and body are overactive. You bring needless power into action and literally wear yourself out to no purpose. You are apt to feel tired too much of the time, setting in motion a vicious cycle which cheats you of fun in life. Strain and fatigue lower your mental as well as physical resistance so that you become easy prey for all sorts of fears and worries, which in turn create additional tension.
Actually, relaxing is a simple thing. In the truest sense, it means doing nothing at all! Why should people have to learn to do that? The hectic type of life we lead today has made it difficult for a great many people to relax. For one thing, it has surrounded us with so much to do and to get that we may have acquired the habit of always doing or getting — and of being afraid of not doing and not getting.
Even when we think we are relaxing, we are apt to be doing something or worrying about something which makes us tense. We may call it relaxing, for example, when we are playing a quarrelsome game of cards in a tense effort to win, or fighting our way to the mutuels booth at a race track, to place a bet which only tenses us up still more.
When we say we are most relaxed, we might be found in an armchair watching television or listening to the radio and growing tenser by the minute as a murder yarn unfolds.
So we must learn to relax largely because we don’t know what it is like, or how enjoyable it can be. Most of us are so used to tension that we may not even realize when we are all keyed up, wither at work or at play.
Tasting the first fruits of real relaxing can prove to be a revelation to you. You can gain a brand-new sense of ease, calm, confidence and serenity that you will want to use more and more in your daily life.
But don’t start with the idea that you have a big job cut out for you. Don’t grit your teeth and say, “I’m going to learn to relax, or else!” There is no effort in relaxing. It is just the opposite. It is a dropping of effort — that is to say of all unnecessary effort.
You are not going to take up relaxing as a burden. Instead, you are going to drop the burden of tension which you have been carrying with you to your work and to your home. The emphasis is not on what you have to do, but on what you don’t have to do. And you are going to enjoy it. So relax!