Self-Help Advice Books Peace of Mind

About the self-help book Peace of Mind by Joshua Loth Liebman, history and advice from the book.



The Head Man: Joshua Loth Liebman followed in his forefathers' footsteps in that he was a rabbi; however, his attempt to marry religion and psychotherapy broke new ground. In 1939 he became rabbi of Boston's Temple Israel (a post he held until his death in 1948) and received a doctorate in Hebrew letters from Hebrew University in Ohio, his home state. His radio sermons, which he began in that same year, eventually reached millions of listeners in the U.S. Stocky in build, Liebman loved the theater and books; for exercise, he played golf.

Overview: In the preface to Peace of Mind, Liebman says: "This book attempts to distill the helpful insights about human nature that psychology has discovered and the encouraging news from the scientific clinic about man's infinite capacity to change and improve himself, as well as to correlate those latest scientific discoveries with the truest religious insights and goals of the ages." The ultimate goal: peace of mind, which was "the characteristic mark of God himself," as well as of Buddha, Maimonides, and Thomas a Kempis. Throughout the book runs an appreciation of old Judaic values and customs and the outlets they allowed for emotion. The book also incorporates ideas of Sigmund Freud, Karen Horney, and Karl Menninger, such as the rejection of guilt as a repressive device, and the recognition of the need to face hidden emotions and to reach a balance between mature independence and interpersonal relationships. It is important, Liebman felt, that people evaluate themselves realistically, believe in their own worth, and achieve peace of mind by "looking within," without trying to escape the realities of life.

Help-Yourself Advice:

1. Acknowledge your hidden thoughts and impulses. Accept yourself with all your imperfections.

2. "Thou shalt learn to respect thyself, and then thou wilt love thy neighbour as thyself." Even as you are tolerant of yourself, be tolerant of others. Don't seek, but instead give, love.

3. Overcome inner anxiety by recognizing your true competence and courage.

4. "Thou shalt stand undismayed in the presence of grief. Thou shalt not deny the sadness of thy heart." Do not try to get around sorrow, but "live through it." In facing death, remember that it makes life mean more. Express as much grief as you really feel. Try to replace what you have lost; for example, a mother who has lost a child might work with other children on a volunteer basis.

5. "Thou shalt eternally respect truth and tell it with kindness and also with firmness to all of thy associates. . . ."

6. "Thou shalt search thy heart for the traces of immaturity and the temptations of childishness." This means cherishing your freedom as an adult and not unthinkingly relying on authority; it means getting rid of the "emotional lag" between the feelings you had as a dependent child and what your life now demands. Keep a balance between independence and "human symbiosis," the necessary twining of your life with others' lives.

7. "Thou shalt uproot from thy heart the false doubts and childish petulance which keep thee far from God. Thou shalt not make Him the scapegoat for thy emotional wounds and psychic scars. Thou shalt free thyself of the distortions which block thy way to His presence, and by that freedom thou shalt commune at last with Him, the source of truth, the giver of peace."

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