Josh Gressel, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area and a student of Jewish mysticism. He is the author of Embracing Envy: Finding the Spiritual Treasure in Our Most Shameful Emotion, published in 2014 by University of America Press, and a chapter in an edited book: "Disposable Diapers, Envy, and the Kibbutz: What happens to an emotion based on comparison in a society based on equality?" (in Envy at Work and in Organizations, Oxford University Press, 2017)
What do I do best?
There are two areas that stand out for me as a psychologist (and a person): I push and I have a strong connection to the hidden realms. In terms of pushing, I am very passionate in my work and hold a very deep belief that we are not fragile, broken people who need to live our lives in reaction to what once happened. We are infinite and the world around us is infinite and there are an infinite number of ways to reach toward greater wholeness. This world view stems in part from my connection to the unseen world and my trust that there is meaning and intelligence in all we experience.
What makes me the best version of myself?
It’s a paradox but I am at my most powerful when I become invisible. It’s taken me a lifetime to live this truth, to trust that I don’t have to actively try to make things happen but I simply need to be as fully present to what is. My particular nature is not someone who is center stage, who needs to be seen or to be famous. And the more I embody this truth, the more my presence is impactful.
What are my aspirations?
My personal aspirations are to write another book but enjoy the process much more and master the skill of writing something both meaningful and readable. My business goals are to maintain the flourishing private practice I now have and start to cut back in a few years so that I can work as long as my synapses and energy allow.
My Biggest Success?
I think my biggest success is having lived a life that has been meaningful. I chose a path of inner goals as a young man and stuck to it, even during the period when people my age were getting famous or rich or enjoying material success in ways which at the time made me envious.
My Most Challenging Moment?
In my 20s I thought I had settled into the rest of my life. I was living on a kibbutz in Israel, had a young family, and was dying a slow death. There was a moment when I was watching my 2-year-old son playing with a car on the sidewalk, and I thought to myself “Well, I didn’t make it but maybe he will.” The next thought was “I’m 28 years old and have already given up on my life?” I started to take steps which led to a move to California, graduate school, and resetting my life on a path more in tune with my true nature.
This is from Carl Jung: “Free will is choosing to do that which you must do.”
Another is from an unknown source: “You only really change when you become yourself.”
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I had role models along the way, major teachers, etc. At this point in my life, it has been liberating to realize that no one has the answers, no one really knows, and even the greatest guru (unless they are fully realized) is trying to figure it out like me. So I learn from people but I have reoriented my stance away from emulation and admiration and more toward trusting myself more and looking for answers elsewhere less.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Israel remains my favorite travel destination. I love backpacking in California and feel grateful that there are awe-inspiring vistas within a half-day’s drive from my home.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I love my books that I study (Jewish mysticism) and I love my woodworking hand tools.
My Current Passions?
Being a grandparent, study, woodworking, my work with clients which becomes easier and easier and more and more effective, writing when I get to it.