The achievement of a healthy and peaceful mind is a far more complicated challenge than a healthy body.

Throughout the ages, countless teachers have addressed and continue to address this dimension of life. Many of them compete with each other for your attention and your money. One could spend many lifetimes reading their recommendations. None of us have the time to sift through it all.

What is the essence of wisdom? After more than seven decades of rich and diverse experiences in an array of fields and the acquisition of a couple of advanced degrees from fine universities, I would say that the essence is to get grounded in the extraordinary phenomenon known as reality. Pay attention. Endeavor to see and understand life as it is. In human interactions, we find trickery and virtue everywhere. It’s normal. Keep it all in perspective. Rudyard Kipling summed it up beautifully in his poem “If.”

As for making personal life changes, a firm decision is required to trigger the process. Otherwise, the effort is doomed at the start. There is a well-known quote by German writer and statesman Johann Goethe, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic to it. Begin it now.” Most people who are familiar with this inspiring quote are unaware that this is just the end of the quote. The part that precedes it is even more insightful:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth (the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans). That is the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

“All sorts of things occur to help one that would have never otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no person could have dreamed would have come his way.”

In other words, decide and commit. Make a plan and stick to it. When you do, you will be astonished at what follows.

Let me share the following with you as it relates to living a healthy life. Many years ago, I wrote a book entitled Russell, Alexandra and John. Russell is a wise teacher, an ageless sage. Alexandra and John, twin youngsters, befriend Russell and seek his advice about life. In response to one of the questions from John, Russell offered the following:

“High priests and priestesses are not in short supply these days. One has quite a varied menu of both teachers and teachings from which to choose. It’s remarkable that so many claim exclusive possession of the truth. Surely they cannot all possess this most exclusive treasure.

“Many people are inclined and content to adopt a creed or fall under the spell of some charismatic personality. It is the result of a persistent human need for clarity and a leader who will show the way. As a consequence, you are overwhelmed with purveyors of many varieties of dogma vying with each other for followers, financial support, and power.

“The path that was to have led to liberation leads then only to another cell in the prison block, another blocked corridor in the maze. The purity and simplicity of that which was sought is lost to needless complexities, adornment, and exploitation.

“I do not claim to possess the truth, perhaps some truths. I do not claim to know the way, perhaps a way. I do not claim to have the answers, perhaps some answers.

“Go deep into the well that is you and seek the teacher within. Challenge belief systems. Challenge authority. Live life in the present, fairly and honorably. See the beauty in simplicity. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Respect your environment. Avoid self-centeredness. Fill your life with quality in the fulfillment of your genuine needs. Seek and experience learning, but avoid teachings that are divisive. In all these things, be who are. Express your individuality, the beautiful imprint that is you uniquely. Trust yourself. Keep life simple.

“Don’t be misguided for there are those who would dazzle you with their costumes, settings, and rituals. I would suggest that the truth that you seek, elegant in its simplicity, is without need of adornment.

“There are those who would have you believe there is but one path that leads to peace. I would suggest that at the point where all paths converge, there begins the final leg of the journey to peace.

“There are those who would limit you with a rigid set of rules that restrict, bind, and diminish you, and then they modify these as convenience and events dictate. I would suggest that you avoid rigidity, but rather align yourself with that which is fluid, spontaneous, and you.

“There are those who would define you primarily as a spirit and have you focus your attention on your next life. I would suggest that while there are aspects of life that may indeed be immortal, more important is it that you acknowledge, experience, and celebrate the reality of your current life which is far from an illusion.

“There are those who would have you follow and serve them as their disciples. I would suggest that you follow yourself; that all have equal access to the source of inspiration; and to otherwise learn only from those who seek, not to bind you, but to set you free.”

Originally published at