I just read an extremely interesting article on Chabad.org about Cheshbon HaNefesh, or the “account of the soul”. I’m a numbers and math kind of person, and obviously anything that ties my faith and beliefs back into the math and science I was raised on makes me extremely happy… two worlds collide and I find myself in a “comfort zone” on multiple levels. So this article basically turns the concept of Cheshbon HaNefesh into a logical step-by-step balance-sheet-ish analysis. For my Industrial Engineering friends out there… think “Cost Engineering” at it’s most spiritually moving level. Now anyone who knows me or knows anything about my work style knows that I am absolutely obsessed with Excel and making things easier by use of templates, programming, databases, etc. So in typical “me” fashion, feel free to download the following “Soul Accounting P&L” template. Template is © Cathleen (Rucheli) Manville 2010 (5770)… Enjoy!
The entire 5-step process was introduced by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Chabad has always been great at breaking extremely spiritual and mystical concepts into easily applicable ideas, and this is no exception!! If you want to read the full article on Chabad.org you can find it here, but below is a basic summary:
1. Draw two large squares on a paper. Title the first one: “Me and G‑d”; the second: “Me and My Fellows.”
2. In the “Me and G‑d” category, write down the various religious ritual mitzvot you observe – e.g., tefillin, kosher and Shabbat observance – and the degree to which you observe them. Next to each of these mitzvot, write down whether this is an area in which you incurred a profit or loss in the past year.
3. In the “Me and My Fellows” section, write down all your notable relationships—e.g., your children, spouse, parents, friends, work buddies, and acquaintances. Here, too, write down next to each one whether you became closer to these people, distanced yourself, or did things you’d have been better off not doing…
4. Take the “losses” of the year, and turn them into profits. Ask yourself, how can I be a better parent? How can I ensure that I put on tefillin daily? How can I improve the atmosphere in my home? How can I devote more time to Torah study? And should I be expanding my business? Are there other areas that don’t even yet exist on my balance sheet that I should explore? A new mitzvah? A new relationship?
5. Analyze the patterns. Or to put it differently, to look at the inner soul workings that caused all the profits and losses. Why are you failing in certain areas? What is your perspective on life? How important to you are your relationships? Do you have a deep-seated commitment to fulfill your spiritual calling in life?