Presence of Mind
Essay # 1
The presence of mind implies the presence of the thinking faculties in time of danger or emergency, which enable a man to think clearly and act promptly. It is usually found in those who are naturally good leaders of men, being one of the qualities which make them fit for leadership. The suggestions of a man who keeps a clear head, when others are panic-stricken and know not where to turn, are the most valuable to be had at the moment and, invest him with authority. It is akin to courage, for the reasoning. powers quickly yield to the tyranny of fear. It should be accompanied by ready wit. The presence of a mind that is worthless is of little avail. A reckless and undaunted fool is of no more use than a man of intelligence benumbed by terror.
It is not uncommon to find men with some reputation for sagacity losing that reputation in the face of danger or emergency. Their faculties become paralyzed and they know not how to act. Such men are unfit for responsible posts. The general who loses his head on the battlefield is at once discredited, and, however faithful and loyal a servant of the state he may be in other respects, he cannot be allowed to serve it any longer in the capacity of a commander of troops. In commercial life, through rumours of wars and disasters or the manipulation of markets, panics are often created. Men rashly buy and sell shares and bankruptcies multiply. The men who escape ruin are those who can look at the situation calmly and deliberately, and, instead. of: blindly imitating the mob, investigate the circumstances of the case, and base their decision on the result of their investigations. The mother who faints or sits down to scream when an accident happens to her child may lose a child whom prompt assistance might have saved.
The presence of mind is largely an innate gift and only partly capable of cultivation. Nevertheless, the man who has developed his powers of thought by education, and keeps with body strong and able, is more likely to act in an emergency with wisdom and promptitude than one whose mind and body are enfeebled by indulgence. Then again, knowledge will prevent many foolish actions. Though we cannot possibly be prepared against all dangers, we can learn what dangers are likely to be met within our particular walk of life, and what steps are to be taken in certain contingencies. The general, by a study of military history, can find out how others acted in difficulties, and the mother can make herself acquainted with the principles of aid in case of an accident, and the remedies to be first aid in case of an accident, and the remedies to be first applied in case of sudden sickness.
Presence of Mind
Essay # 2
“Presence of mind” means keeping cool and collected in a sudden emergency. It is the opposite, not of absent-mindedness, but of “losing one’s head.” The word mind in this phrase means reason, and so a man who has the presence of the mind in danger is one who has such control over his nerves and feelings that his reason is not upset, but still directs his actions.
People who, as we say, “lose their heads” in an emergency, or are so overcome with such strong emotions as fear, anxiety, or excitement that their reason is for a time in abeyance, or “absent,” and in consequence, they do and say foolish things in their haste and fright.
“Presence of mind” is, to some extent, a gift; that is, some people have it naturally. While in an accident or in sudden danger, others get flurried and excited and carried away by fear, they remain cool and calm, and are able to make the right decisions quickly. Such people are very fortunate; for in an emergency, presence of mind may save a man from taking a false step which might mean ruin.
But all are not so fortunate. The natural thing with nervous people is to “lose their heads” in an accident or sudden crisis. It is, however, possible for even nervous and excitable people to cultivate the presence of mind, though it is not easy. The great thing is constantly practicing controlling the emotions. We must deliberately check and restrain ourselves from being carried away by our feelings – such as anger, fear, anxiety, excessive sorrow, or hilarious joy. If we thus form a habit of self-restraint, we shall be all the better able to keep cool and calm in the face of danger.
A good example of the value of the presence of mind is the story of Dr. Livingstone, the famous African missionary and explorer, who, when struck down by the sudden leap of a lion in the forest, had the presence of mind to lie perfectly still on the ground. The result was that the lion, thinking he was dead, left him and stalked away. If Livingstone had, in his fear, struggled or tried to get away, he would undoubtedly have been killed at once by the beast.