Health is the condition of wisdom, and the sign is cheerfulness - an open and noble temper.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American Poet, Essayist

From "Care of the Soul," by Thomas Moore:

Once a week people in the thousands show up for their regular appointment with a therapist. They bring problems they have talked about many times before, problems that cause them intense emotional pain and make their lives miserable. Depending on the kind of therapy employed, the problems will be analyzed, referred back to childhood and parents, or attributed to some key factor such as the failure to express anger, alcohol in the family, or childhood abuse. Whatever the approach, the aim will be health or happiness achieved by the removal of these central problems.

Care of the soul is a fundamentally different way of regarding daily life and the quest for happiness: the emphasis may not be on problems at all. One person might care for the soul by buying or renting a good piece of land, another by selecting an appropriate school or program of study, another by painting his house or bedroom. Care of the soul is a continuous process that concerns itself not so much with "fixing" a central flaw as with attending to the small details of everyday life, as well as to major decisions and changes...

Care of the soul is not primarily a method of problem-solving. Its goal is not to make life problem-free, but to give ordinary life the depth and value that come with soulfulness. In a way it is much more of a challenge than psychotherapy because it has to do with cultivating a richly expressive and meaningful life at home and in society. It is also a challenge because it requires imagination from each of us. In therapy we lay our problems at the feet of a professional who is supposedly trained to solve them for us. In care of the soul, we ourselves have both the task and the pleasure of organizing and shaping our lives for the good of the soul.

* * *

Also on Beliefnet:

  • Read more by Thomas Moore

  • Sign up

    to receive Health & Happiness insights in your inbox everyday.

    more from beliefnet and our partners
    Close Ad