Mental Efficiency and Other Hints to Men and Women by Arnold Bennett

The world is more efficient these days. We are often more concerned about our physical body as compared to our mind. As such, we do not see the need to improve our mental capacity and end up neglecting our minds. We lack the willpower and the ability to concentrate using our minds. The key to improvement is to recognize your weaknesses and to practice concentration for a while every day.

But it does not, perhaps, occur to us that the mind has its muscles, and a lot of apparatus besides, and that these invisible, yet paramount, mental organs are far less efficient than they ought to be; that some of them atrophied, others starved, others out of shape etc. – Arnold Bennett


We have the desire to perfect ourselves, to round off our careers with the graces of knowledge and taste. How many people would not gladly undertake some branch of serious study, so that they might not die under the reproach of having lived and died without ever really having known anything about anything! – Arnold Bennett

If you are too ambitious at the start, you will be doomed for failure as you will lack the motivation to push on when you received a setback. Failure is a dangerous wound. Start small and take little steps each day. Sometimes if you tell your goal to others, they may mock at you, although doing so can increase your accountability. Set aside small blocks of time to achieve your objectives and do it diligently. Go for memory classes and practice writing classes etc. Write about anything. Learn to keep a journal. Failure must be treated with indifference. Choose your own goals.

A most curious and useful thing to realize is that one never knows the impression one is creating on other people. I mean that one has one’s self no mental picture corresponding to the mental picture which one’s personality leaves in the minds of one’s friends. – Arnold Bennett

We tend to judge others better than we can judge ourselves. We are also sometimes very harsh over the opinion of others. Sometimes, when you annoy others, you are unconscious of them and you only realize them very much later. Kindness is the greatest of human qualities in friendship. To a certain extent, kindness can be cultivated. The most resolution is the one where one needs to break with the past. One can’t do away with the past. Thinking of the past often makes one unhappy. Grief is something of the past. One should not keep mourning over the past as it will make one unhappy. We need the faculty of imagination and to look at our lives from another perspective. Don’t let your past influence you from pursuing new tasks and challenges. Every man must be their own philosopher. The grass is not always green on the other side. Do not let your ambitions cheat you too much. Savour in the present and not keep thinking that the future will be different from the present.

You search for happiness? Happiness is chiefly a matter of temperament. It is exceedingly improbable that you will be struggling gain more happiness than you already possess. In fine, settle down at once into life. – Arnold Bennett

Marriage is not a duty to the state. Do not marry someone because you feel like you need to fulfil a duty to the state. The author does not suggest that one should marry if one has any doubt, or does not feel sufficient love etc. Do not be afraid of being single, for single brings its own unique freedoms. Marriage is not a guarantee of no loneliness in old age. For most marriages, it becomes more of tolerating the other party and sometimes it even turns to dislike and detestation. One should be extremely cautious about marriage. Marriage should be about reason and never about whirlwind romance.

I read what I feel inclined to read, and I am conscious of no duty to finish a book that I don’t care to finish. I read in my leisure, not from a sense of duty, not to improve myself, but solely because it gives me pleasure to read. – Arnold Bennett


In buying a book, be influenced by two considerations only. Are you reasonably sure that it is a good book? Have you a desire to possess it? Do not be influenced by the probability of you reading it. After all, one does read a certain proportion of what one buys. And further, instinct counts. – Arnold Bennett

Success is broadly divided into 4 branches: (1) Distinction in pure or applied science; (2) Distinction in the arts; (3) Direct influence and power over the material lives of other men; (4) Success in amassing money. Sometimes, the majority do not aim for success and success can take modest forms. Success books are for minority to deceive the majority. It is misleading because it seems that most successful people have planned their route all the way though it’s not true. Based on the author, the successful does not have above average intelligence etc and it is very difficult to pinpoint what makes someone successful. There are 3 types of success. Success A is the accidental sort (due to chance); Success B refers to men who have the talent to succeed; Success C refers to sheer high merit. A certain degree of success will be due to chance. This means that hungry people are on the lookout for it more, but they are not necessarily industrious. They have the insatiable wish to be successful. They also do not give up easily, contrary to what others might think or criticize. He keeps trying and is undaunted by failure. He is always trying to grab new opportunities

Once a man has achieved success, the thing becomes a habit with him. The difference between a success and a failure is often so slight that a reputation for succeeding will ensure success, and a reputation for failing will ensure failure. – Arnold Bennett

Do away with all the small courtesies that will slow you down. Just do it right away. Form is the basis for all beauty. You can have too much convention in life. The basis for convention is symbolism. Beauty is brought out through discipline and ordering. Happiness springs from the fact that there is a higher being and something that can control the mind. One needs regular meditation. The Force is in me and exists forever. Imagine that your soul is immortal and that nothing can affect it. One needs to be benevolent in all aspects of life or you will never attain contentment. Learn to cultivate charity and calmness.




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