Mindfulness Meditation

Days of COVID and William James

On Friday it started with the sensation of having to clear my throat over and over again.  By Friday afternoon it was a sore throat; not severe, but noticeable.  On Saturday morning it was a slight fever and a sore throat, prompting administrations of an at-home COVID test (negative result).  By Saturday afternoon and evening the fever was troublesome but the sore throat had passed.  On Sunday morning it was the nasal congestion and the fever that suggested a second at-home COVID test, this time positive.  A visit to the nearby Urgent Care confirmed the diagnosis.  Since then soup and tea, rest, and William James have been my prescription.  Fortunate for me that my version of COVID appears to be “mild to moderate;” in other words, annoying but tolerable.

And who better to spend sick-time with than William James!  His work remains transformative to my field, mental health, and has been transformative for me both personally and professionally.  A list of his contributions to the field of Psychology and Philosophy would take up several pages.  If you are interested in reading his work I would recommend these essays (and a book) as starting points:

  1. “The Will to Believe” (available online for free at many sites including
  2. “Is Life Worth Living” (

These two essays in their entirety may be more than you want to read.  So my third recommendation will make this easier for you.  My current reading of William James is in an excellent new book titled “Be Not Afraid of Life: In the Word of William James,” edited by John Kaag and Jonathan Van Belle.  Excerpts from these two essays and many more are included in this book, along with introductions to each reading from the editors.  It is a fine way to begin getting acquainted with James’s philosophy and psychology.

The title of the book is derived from the final paragraph of “Is Life Worth Living:”

“These, then, are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”

I have found this to be true throughout my life.  What I believe shapes my reality and, at times, creates my reality.  For me, shaping my belief has come down to a simple but profound insight: “As I hear myself speak so I come to believe.”  Gandhi speaks wisely of the consequences of managing your thoughts in words that, I suspect, William James would have strongly endorsed:

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”

That’s all for today.  With COVID comes fatigue, so I think I’ll return to my reading and my tea for now.

By Jim Walsh

I am a Pastoral Counselor in private practice in Wilmington DE. I teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction as part of my work as a therapist.

2 replies on “Days of COVID and William James”

So sorry to hear of your illness. We’re lifting you up in prayer, knowing our faith in God, always makes life worth every precious moment.
Thanks for sharing more inspiration with others

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