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Clinical Psychologist Robert J. Wicks Shows How a “Country Psychology” of Simplicity and Gratitude Can Lead to Contentment

August 31, 2011

In Streams of Contentment: Lessons I Learned on My Uncle’s Farm (Sorin Books, October 2011), clinical psychologist Dr. Robert J. Wicks, a professor at Loyola University Maryland, draws from the "country psychology” that shaped him to offer a philosophy of contentment. His goal is to help readers access all that's in their lives already: “There’s much wonder in your life if you can lean back and take a peek at it.”

“The question is not what more do I need to be satisfied with my life. The more profound, counter-cultural risk is to appreciate who and what is already there in my life, and to be content with who and where I already am,” Wicks writes.

Wicks is in the fourth decade of a practice that has specialized in treating people who work in some of the world’s darkest places—rescue and relief workers, physicians, teachers, psychologists, and others who are most in danger of burnout or traumatic stress. The principles he practices with his patients and in his own life are the fruit of his summers on a family farm in the Catskills in upstate New York. The farm shaped his philosophy of life, providing him with the simple cornerstones of a life well lived. “Life is simpler than we make it,” says Dr. Wicks. “Knowing this can encourage us to focus more directly on what is truly important and essential in life.”

One does not have to live on a farm to adopt a “country psychology.” No matter where one lives, it is possible to shift attitudes and perspectives by focusing on values such as gratitude, compassion and clarity. Such a change in perspective will help anyone tap into the “streams of contentment” already present in his or her life.

“Life is not easy, but there are some simple truths that can help us to live more richly no matter what our circumstances are,” Wicks says. Streams of Contentment consists of brief, poignant, sometimes humorous, and instructive lessons in such truths, among them:

  1. Be clear about what is truly essential
  2. Appreciate everything and everyone in your life now
  3. Know what a renewing community is
  4. Make new friends with failure
  5. Recognize that a little silence and solitude is no small thing

Author interviewed about Streams of Contentment

About Robert J. Wicks

Popular Catholic author and speaker Robert J. Wicks has been helping people take greater stock of their lives for almost forty years.  He is professor emeritus at Loyola University Maryland, has taught in universities and professional schools of psychology, medicine, nursing, theology, education, and social work, and has a consulting practice.

Wicks, a Queens, New York, native, received a master’s degree in clinical psychology in 1973 from St. John’s University and a doctorate in psychology from Philadelphia’s Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital in 1977. In 1996, Pope John Paul II awarded Wicks a papal medal for his service to the Catholic Church. He received honorary doctorates from Caldwell College and Georgian Court University, and in 2006,  the first Alumni Award for Excellence in Professional Psychology from Widener University. He is also the recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the American Counseling Association’s Division on Spirituality, Ethics, and Religious Values in Counseling.

He has written more than fifty books, including No Problem, Streams of Contentment and bestseller Riding the Dragon. Wicks gives presentations throughout the world and in 1994 was responsible for the psychological debriefing of relief workers evacuated from Rwanda during the country’s genocide.

Wicks and his wife, Michaele, have a grown daughter and lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

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