Simplify Your Life to Avoid Anxiety

Venerable Paul of Thebes

Venerable Paul of Thebes

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

By Elder and Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (Spiritual Counsels with Pain and Love Contemporary Man)

Worldly Happiness Causes Worldly Anxiety

The more people distance themselves from a natural, simple life and embrace luxury, the more they suffer from anxiety. And as they distance themselves from God, they naturally cannot find rest in anything they do. This is why they go around restless; they even spin around the moon--like the belt of an engine spinning around the "crazy wheel"--since earth cannot contain all their restlessness.

Worldly stress is the result of worldly happiness, of worldly pleasures and self-indulgence. Educated externally and being full of anxiety, hundreds of people (even young children) are driven to psychoanalysis and psychiatrists. New psychiatric hospitals are being built and young psychiatrists go on for post-graduate studies. Many of them do not believe in God or accept the existence of the soul. How can these people help the human soul, when they themselves are full of anxiety? How can one feel truly comforted, if he does not believe in God and in the true and eternal life after death? When man grasps the deeper meaning of this true life, stress goes away. Divine consolation comes and he is healed. If someone went to psychiatric hospitals and read the Abba (Father) Isaac to the patients, those who believe in God would get well, because they would come to understand the deeper meaning of life.

People try to calm themselves with tranquilizers or with the theories of yoga, and they neglect altogether the true serenity that comes when the soul is humble and God fills it with divine consolation. And imagine how all those tourists must suffer who come from other countries to Greece, and walk the streets in the hot summer sun, in the dusty and noisy streets! What great pressure they must feel inside, how stressed they must be if they need all this heat and noise to find comfort! It's like their own selves are driving them away, and all they can see in this trouble is rest!

When we see a person who has everything be stressed, anxious and sad, we must know that God is missing from his life. In the end, even wealth will make people suffer, because the material goods cannot satisfy them. Theirs is a double affliction. I know wealthy people who have everything and are miserable. They do not even have children but they are still miserable. They are too lazy to lie down or take a walk. "Fine," I told someone, "since you have some free time, do something spiritual; read one of the Hours of prayer, read a passage from the Gospel." "I cannot," he said. "Then," I told him, "try doing something good; go to a hospital to visit some sick person." "Why should I go all the way there," he says, "what will become of it?" "Go help some poor person in your neighborhood." "No," he says, "that does not please me either." Can you believe that this person is miserable despite the fact that he has everything: free time, numerous houses and so on? Do you know how many people like this arte in society? And these people suffer to the point that they lose their mind. What a dreadful thing! And if they happen to be independently wealthy and do not work, then they are the most miserable of all. If they at least had a job they would feel somewhat better.

Rushing Back and Forth Makes Modern Life Hell

People are always in a hurry, rushing from one place to another. They have to be here, the next hour they must be there, and the hour after that they will have to be somewhere else. To remind themselves of their many obligations, they have to write them down. With all this running around, it is a good thing they still remember their names! They do not even recognize themselves! No wonder! It's too difficult to see yourself mirrored I murky waters. May God forgive me, but the world has become a huge madhouse! No one thinks of the next life anymore. All they want is more and more material goods. This is why they cannot find peace and run around constantly.

Fortunately, the other life exists. Considering what they have done to their lives, if people lived eternally in this life, there would be no greater hell. With the stress they have, if they lasted eight or nine hundred years like people did in Noah's time, their lives would be hell. In Noah's time they lived simple and long lives and that's how Tradition was preserved. What is happening now is what we read in the Psalm: "The years of our life are three-score and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away." Seventy years is barely enough time for people to provide for their children.

One day an American doctor stopped by my Kalyvi and was telling me about life over there, and how people have turned into machines. All they do is work. Each member of the family must have their own car. At home, to accommodate everybody, there must be four television sets. And they continue to work and to wear themselves out in pursuit of money, so that one day they can say that they are comfortable and happy. But what do all these things have to do with happiness? Such a life, filled with stress and anxiety, is not a life but hell. What's the use of a life full of anxiety? If we all had to live this way, I would not want this life. If God were to say to these people, "I will not punish you for the life you lead, but I will let you live this way forever," this, for me, would be pure hell.

For this reason so many people cannot stand life under these conditions and go away to the countryside, not quite knowing where they are heading and why. They form groups in nature and take part in exercises or other programs. They told me about some people who ran away and climbed a 6,000-meter high mountain. They would hold their breath, then exhale and then inhale again more deeply...They are not getting anywhere this way. This only serves to show that their heart is overwhelmed by stress and is looking for a way out. I said to one of them, "You are just digging a pit, making it larger and larger and admiring its depth...and then you fall in and down you go. We monastics are also digging, but in our pit we find precious metals. Our exercise (ascesis) has meaning because it has a higher purpose."



The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


Glory Be To GOD For All Things!


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George