Psychological Self-Help

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12
In the last analysis it is our conception of death which decides our answers to all the
questions that life puts to us.
-Dag Hammarskjold
In chapter 14 under "helpful attitudes," I discuss the psychological
benefits of a deep religious faith. For some people, the benefits are
great and difficult to replace. However, because belief in a God is an
emotional matter, not a rational process, it is not an issue we can
decide by just "using our head." It is a conflict within each of us
between the solace of total faith vs. the satisfaction of facing reality.
In our culture, we can't openly debate the existence of God with most
people; it is too emotional an issue. Many people can't even privately
consider the pros and cons of believing in God; doubts are thought to
offend God. Therefore, if religion and God are deeply established parts
of your life's meaning, count your blessings but be tolerant of people
who chose a slightly different life path. They are not evil. 
On the other hand, if your thoughts lead you to question
God's existence, do not despair but ask yourself: what are the
implications for how I would live my life? Among many other
things, I would suggest this--if God isn't ruling the world, seeing
that justice is done, taking care of needy people, guiding our
priests and leaders, answering prayers, rewarding the good, etc.,
then each of us shoulders more of the responsibility for those
things. In short, without God, the meaning of life may shift slightly
but our lives could become more meaningful because without an
omnipotent God each individual must assume more responsibility
for what happens. Therefore, the development of your own
philosophy of life is even more important because only humans can
learn to save the environment, live in peace, love one another,
help the poor and disadvantaged, help ourselves, etc. It will not be
easy to do all that we morally should. 
Being Good is Hard
As scientists, we psychologists know very little about changing our
values and little about how people become compassionate, generous,
trustworthy, forgiving, and altruistic. See an excellent review of what
we do know in Mussen and Eisenberg-Berg (1977). Everyone
recognizes, of course, that certain individuals and groups, e.g. the
Hopi Indians in Arizona, do develop these kind, socially responsible,
considerate traits. But how? We aren't sure, but it certainly isn't easy
to become an unselfish person. The Hopi family and community, for
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