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The following was first published in the May 1946 Reader's Digest, and again reprinted in the November 1962 issue. 
It appears here because, in my fifty mumble years on this planet, I have--like the author, Dr. Joshua Loth Lieberman--come to the conclusion that "Peace of Mind" is the gift to be sought after most; that without it everything is Damn near Impossible, but with it everything is a given! 

I am by no means suggesting that I have arrieved, but since the beginning of my own quest for the "Holy Grail" of an untroubled mind, "Life is GOODer!"

I predict: the eight to ten minutes spent reading this, will shorten your day by eight to ten minutes.

Special Request Feature: 
This article was warmly received by our readers when it first appeared in The Reader's Digest in May 1946. It has been recommended for reprint by the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, pastor of the Marble Collegiate Reformed Church, New York; president of the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry; author of such widely read books as "The Power of Positive Thinking," "A Guide to Confident Living," "The Tough-Minded Optimist."
Peace of Mind
A condensation from the book by Dr. Joshua Loth Liebman
Once, as a young man, I under- 
took to draw up a catalogue 
of the acknowledged "goods" 
of life. I set down my inventory of 
earthly desirables: health, love, tal- 
ent, power, riches and fame. Then I 
proudly showed it to a wise elder. 
   "An excellent list," said my old 
friend, "and set down in reasonable 
order. But you have omitted the one 
important ingredient, lacking which 
your list becomes an intolerable bur- 
   He crossed out my entire sched- 
ule. Then he wrote down three syl- 
lables: peace of mind
   "This is the gift that God reserves 
for His special protééges," he said. 
"Talent and health He gives to 
many. Wealth is commonplace, fame 
not rare. But peace of mind He be- 
stows charily." 
   "This is no private opinion of 
mine," he explained. "I am merely 
paraphrasing from the Psalmists, 
Marcus Aurelius, Lao-tse. 'O God, 
Lord of the universe,' say these wise 
ones, 'heap worldly gifts at the feet 
of foolish men. Give me the gift of 
the untroubled mind.'" 
   I found that difficult to accept; 
but now, after a quarter of a century 
of personal experience and profes- 
sional observation, I have come to 
understand that peace of mind is the 
true goal of the considered life. I 
know now that the sum of all other 
possessions does not necessarily add 
up to peace of mind; on the other 
hand, I have seen this inner tran- 
quillity flourish without the material 
supports of property or even the but- 
tress of physical health. Peace of 
mind can transform a cottage into a
"Peace o[ Mind," copyright 1948 by Joshua Loth Liebman, it Published 
by Simon and  Shustter, lnc., 65o Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y."
 108               THE READER'S

spacious manor hall; the want of it 
can make a regal residence an im- 
prisoning shell. 
   Where then shall we look for it? 
The key to the problem is to be 
found in Matthew Arnold's lines: 
   We would have inward peace 
     But will not look within . . . 
  But will not look within! Here, in 
a single phrase, our willfullness is 

It is a striking irony that, while 
religious teaching emphasizes man's 
obligations to others, it says little 
about his obligation to himself. One 
of the great discoveries of modern 
psychology is that our attitudes to- 
ward ourselves are even more com- 
plicated than our attitudes toward 
others. The great commandment of 
religion, "Thou shalt love thy neigh- 
bor as thyself," might now be better 
interpreted to mean, "Thou shalt 
love thyself properly, and then thou 
wilt love thy neighbor." 
  Some will argue that this is a dan- 
gerous doctrine. "Human beings 
love themselves too much already," 
they will say. "The true goal of life 
is the rejection of self in the service 
of others." There are errors in this 
estimate of human nature. The evi- 
dence points in quite the opposite 
direction. We often treat ourselves 
more rigidly, more vengefully, than 
we do others. Suicide and more sub- 
tle forms of self-degradation such as 
alcoholism, drug addiction and 
promiscuity are extreme proofs of 
this. But all the streets of the world 
are teeming with everyday men and 

 DIGEST                   November 

women who mutilate themselves 
spiritually by self-criticism; who go 
through life committing partial sui- 
cide-destroying their own talents, 
energies, creative qualities. 

   There are myriad ways in which 
we show contempt for ourselves 
rather than self-respect. Our feelings 
of inferiority, for instance: how of- 
ten we attribute to our neighbors su- 
perior powers; we exaggerate their 
abilities, and sink into orgies of self- 
criticism. The fallacy here is that we 
see in others only the surface of as- 
surance and poise. If we could look 
deeper and realize all men and wom- 
en bear within themselves the scars 
of many a lost battle, we would 
judge our own failures less harshly. 
   To one who goes through life 
hypnotized by thoughts of inferior- 
ity, I would say, "In actuality, you 
are quite strong and wise and suc- 
cessful. You have done rather well 
in making a tolerable human exist- 
ence out of the raw materials at your 
disposal. There are those who love 
and honor you for what you really 
are. Take off your dark-colored 
glasses, assume your place as an 
equal in the adult world, and realize 
that your strength is adequate to 
meet the problems of that world." 
   Another road to proper self-regard 
is the acceptance of ourselves for 
what we are--a combination of 
strengths and weaknesses. The great 
thing is that as long as we live we 
have the privilege of growing. We 
can learn new skills, engage in new 
kinds of work, devote ourselves to 

"Peace o[ Mind," copyright 1948 by Joshua Loth Liebman, it Published 
by Simon and  Shustter, lnc., 65o Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y."
1962             PEACE
 new causes, make new friends. Ac- 
cepting, then, the truth that we are 
capable in some directions and lim- 
ited in others, that genius is rare, 
that mediocrity is the portion of 
most of us, let us remember also that 
we can and must change ourselves. 

   Every person who wishes to at- 
tain peace of mind must learn the art 
of renouncing many things in order 
to possess other things more fully. 
   The philosopher Santyana 
pointed out that the great difficulty 
in life does not so much arise in the 
choice between good and evil as in 
the choice between good and good. 
In early life, however, We do not 
realize that one desire can be quite 
inconsistent with another. The young 
boy may vacillate between a dozen 
different plans for the future, but 
the mature man will have to re- 
nounce many careers in order to ful- 
fill one. The same truth exists in the 
realm of emotions. It is fitting for the 
adolescent to transfer his love interest 
from one object of affection to an- 
other, but it is tragic when the grown 
man still plays the role of the ado- 
lescent. He has not yet learned that 
human growth means the closing of 
many doors before one great door 
can be opened--the door of mature 
love and of adult achievement. 
   The first fundamental truth about 
our individual lives is the indispen- 
sability of love to every human be- 
ing. By "love" I mean relatedness 
to some treasured person or group, 
the feeling of belonging to a larger 
whole, of being of value to others. 

OF MIND                         109 

   Our interdependence with others 
is the most encompassing fact of 
human reality our personalities are 
made by our contacts with others. 
There is, therefore, a duty which 
falls upon all of us--to become free, 
loving, warm, cooperative, affirma- 
tive personalities. 
   To love one's neighbors is to 
achieve an inner tolerance for the 
uniqueness of others, to resist the 
temptation to private imperialism. 
We must renounce undue posses- 
sivenness in relation to friends, chil- 
dren--yes, even our loves. The 
world is full of private imperialists 
--the father who forces his artistic 
son into his business, or the mother 
who rivets her daughter to her serv- 
ice by chains of pity, subtly refusing 
the daughter a life of her own. 
   When we insist that others con- 
form to our ideas of what is proper, 
good, acceptable, we show that we 
ourselves are not certain of thc 
rightness of our inner pattern. He 
who is sure of himself is deeply will- 
ing to let others be themselves. We 
display true love when we cease to 
demand that our loved one become 
a revised edition of ourselves. 

   Every normal person experiences 
countless fears and worries. But it is 
possible to master these enemies of 
serenity. Are not most of our fears 
groundless? We worry about our 
hearts, our lungs, our blood pres- 
sure; we feel insecure, bemoan our 
failures, and imagine that others 
scorn or disapprove of us. 
   Our tears may 'disguise them-

"Peace o[ Mind," copyright 1948 by Joshua Loth Liebman, it Published 
by Simon and  Shustter, lnc., 65o Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y."
1962             PEACE
selves. Some deep self-distrust may 
appear as an unreasoning fear of 
high places, of closed rooms. Again, 
our fears cunningly cloak themselves 
in the garments of physical pain. 

The new science of psychosomatic 
medicine has demonstrated that a 
whole gamut of illnesses, from the 
common cold to arthritis, can often 
be traced to mental rather than 
physical troubles. It is so much easier 
to be sick than to be courageous! 
Many such feelings of insecurity 
are hangovers from childhood when 
we were inadequate and inferior, 
and knew there was a vast difference 
between  our  weakness  and  the 
strength of the adult world. 

Let us look at these anxieties in 
the light of maturity, see that our 
neighbors are no less fallible than 
ourselves, and realize that as adults 
we should not expect to be coddled 
as we were in childhood. We human 
beings are tough organisms, able to 
withstand many shocks. 

   It is natural to experience fear 
concerning our economic and social 
future. Countless people are fright-
ened of unemployment or the col- 
lapse of their careers. These fears are 
very real. But firmly attached to 
them are highly neurotic residues. 
Americans particularly are engaged 
in a marathon race in which the run- 
ners are extremely anxious about 
those panting at their heels and en- 
vious of those ahead. This relentless 
race for economic success is the 
source of many breakdowns and 
premature cardiac deaths.

OF MIND                          110 

   A yearning tor achievement Is an 
admirable attribute of human na- 
ture. Where, then, do we go wrong? 
We err in the excessive energy that 
we devote not to real accomplish- 
ment but to neurotic combat. A man 
may have a home, possessions, a 
charming family, and yet find all 
these things ashy to his taste because 
someone else possesses more. It is the 
more that haunts him and makes 
him minimize his real achievements. 

   The time has come to say: "I am 
no longer going to be interested in 
how much power or wealth another 
man possesses so long as I can attain 
sufficient for the dignity and secu- 
rity of my family and myself. I am 
going to set my goals for myself 
rather than borrow them from 
others. I refuse to destroy my peace 
of mind by striving only for money; 
I will also judge myself in the scale 
of goodness and culture. 

   Both science and religion teach 
us that the obstacles to serenity are 
not external. They lie within us. 
   If we acquire the art of proper 
self-love; if, aided by religion, we 
free ourselves from shadow fears, 
and learn honestly to face grief and 
to transcend it; if we flee from im- 
maturity and boldly shoulder adult 
responsibility; if we appraise and ac- 
cept ourselves as we really are, how 
then can we fail to create a good life 
for ourselves ? For then inward peace 
will be ours. 
For information on reprints see page 24. 

"peace o[ Mind," copyright 1948 by Joshua Loth Liebman, it Published 
by Simon and  Shustter, lnc., 65o Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y."
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