On a Skype call, Max told me that he was “feeling anxious” and didn’t know what to do about it. I told him that I keep a written list of things that both need to be done and tend to contribute to my sense of emotional well-being. And I keep a schedule of what I would like to accomplish during that particular day, not so I’m regimented and focused on accomplishment, but so I’m more likely to do the things that matter most.
“I already do that,” he said.
“Hard to believe.”
“Because while you’re following a list of activities intended to help you feel peaceful, you’re not feeling peaceful. Give me an example of one of the items on your list.”
“I read the Bible,” he said
“And what do you do while you read?”
“I write down everything I’m thinking and learning. I read commentaries, and I try to understand the words I’m reading.”
“That would certainly contribute to your becoming a kind of scholar, but it’s clearly not working toward helping you feel happier. Using your brain to create happy feelings is like using sound to make something taste better.”
“So, what do you suggest?”
“Find a mentor who has already done the intellectual study of the Bible, and who now uses the words to influence his feelings—to make him a happier person. You need a guide.”
Many of us walk around with our hair on fire, and we use gasoline to do it. We need to reach out and find people who know how to put out the fires. Or we feel emotionally “flat” or dead, and we still need a guide.