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Creating the Good Life :Applying Aristotle's Wisdom to Find Meaning and Happiness Professionals And Business People In Midlife Are Increasingly Asking Themselves What S Next In Their Careers And Personal Lives Creating The Good Life Draws On The Wisdom Of The Ages To Help Contemporary Men And Women Plan For Satisfying, Useful, Moral, And Meaningful Second Halves Of Their LivesFor Centuries, The Brightest People In Western Societies Have Looked To Aristotle For Guidance On How To Lead A Good Life And How To Create A Good Society Now James O Toole The Mortimer J Adler Senior Fellow Of The Aspen Institute Translates That Classical Philosophical Framework Into Practical, Comprehensible Terms To Help Professionals And Business People Apply It To Their Own Lives And Work His Book Helps Thoughtful Readers Address Some Of The Profound Questions They Are Currently Struggling With In Planning Their Futures O How Do I Find Meaning And Satisfaction O How Much Money Do I Need In Order To Be Happy O What Is The Right Balance Between Work, Family, And Leisure O What Are My Responsibilities To My Community O How Can I Create A Good Society In My Own Company Bridging Philosophy And Self Help, O Toole S Book Shows How Happiness Ultimately Is Attainable No Matter One S Level Of Income, If One Uses Aristotle S Practical Exercises To Ask The Right Questions And To Discipline Oneself To Pursue Things That Are Good For Us The Book Is The Basis For O Toole S New Good Life Seminar, Where Thoughtful Men And Women Gather To Create Robust And Satisfying Life Plans This was a Christmas gift from my godmother and aside from a few books on religion, it s definitely the first purely philosophical book that I read If that sounds like bad news, fortunately it s not James O Toole s examination of Aristotelian philosophy is very readable and wonderfully insightful Creating the Good Life is a blueprint for living like the Ancient , which is an esoteric way of saying, be a Jack of all trades, attempt to reach your greatest potential, obtain the Highest Good, etc.After a brief biography on Aristotle, his peers and tutors, O Toole immediately begins to apply his philosophy to our modern day lifestyle, showing that the great philosopher would not have identified or condoned the career status quo of intense specialization He would have instead advocated for adiverse and liberal arts style of life plan finding time to teach others, spend time with family, volunteering in the community, keeping the mind sharp by reading copiously, develop and cultivate a group of erudite friends, engage in athletic endeavors, etc By not doing anything in excess and striking a dynamic balance between all of these pursuits, one achieves living a virtuous life This last term is the epicenter of the book and Aristotle s philosophy O Toole routinely comes back to this term and examines the actions of modern day CEO s and of himself, always asking the question Was x a virtuous act, or was it motivated by personal desires This intense focus on doing things for their own sake or for the betterment of others is crucial for one s achievement of the good life.The book should, however, begin with a disclaimer that says This is meant for people emerging from a mid life crisis or,bluntly, You will enjoy thisif you re 50 or over Not only does O Toole use many modern day CEO s as examples or references, many of whom are in their 50 s or older, but the majority of the book is a series of thoughtful answers to the question Now that I m looking forward to retirement, what else is there in life In fact, O Toole only cursorily talks about people in their 20 s, 30 s and 40 s, usually to say that they live profligately and with sensory myopia That said, the book is still very helpful for a younger audience as they look forward to what they want from life.More importantly, I enjoyed this book because it didn t say Go out and do whatever you want because that does no good to someone like myself, whose interests are vast and far between Instead, it says Go out and do many things and try to do them well He doesn t say Don t drink or party because they re not virtuous , he says Don t binge or gamble your life savings because those aren t virtuous There are obviously manycomponents to this, but then I d ruin the simplification The point is, it s difficult to finish reading this book and not want to subscribe to the Aristotelian way of life Too many people are so intensely focused on one thing that they forget to step out of their comfort zones and explore new things For those wanting to break out of that shell, this book is a great place to start. Great introduction to Aristotle for the layman For those a little unsure about tackling the original manuscripts themselves, O Toole has delivered a nice work that neatly summarizes many of Aristotle s key writings as well as developing some creative ways to make old ideas zing again A must read for anyone approaching their late 30s or 40s Classical definitions from an age gone by are particularly relevant today in the midst of terms such as happiness and the good life and virtue being defined by reality television stars and drive by media talking heads O Toole divides the book between defining terminology and concepts and then what living with an awareness of these terms should or could look like in today s world Not a Christian worldview per se, but a classical one that everyone should read. Creating the Good Life Applying Aristotle s Wisdom to Find Meaning and HappinessJames O TooleRodale Books Given the fact that he lived almost 2,400 years ago, what could Aristotle possibly have to say that is directly relevant now In fact, people especially those at mid life are struggling to find meaning and happiness Some ask, as Peggy Lee once did, Is that all there is The purpose of this book is show how Aristotle is an effective guide on that search, and how he can help many people to find their own practical answer to a critically important question, What s next In an interview appeared in the July August 2005 issue of Chamber Executive magazine, O Toole observes that Aristotle was the most practical of all great philosophers His audience was the business and political leadership of his day He offered them wisdom they could apply in their own lives practical advice on matters ranging from ethical business practices to effective philanthropy Aristotle even describes virtuous non retirement the lifelong commitment to engage in leisure work which is characterized by pursuit of the highest good of individual excellence and the complete good of community service He offers practical tests to help us determine how much wealth we need to support us while we engage in those activities As O Toole explains in this book, Aristotle struggled with many of the same difficult circumstancesthan two centuries ago which most of us face in 2005 in his career as a teacher and a consultant to leaders of ancient Athens, Aristotle thought long and hard about what it means to live a good life and how much it takes to finance it His thoughts on this matter are particularly applicable today, given the baby boom generation s anxiety over insufficient retirement savings and shaky investments Aristotle shows how we can find happiness at almost any level of income Moreover, he argues that the ability to find true contentment correlates only tangentially with the amount of money one has cached away Unlike so many of today s life advisors, Aristotle integrates financial planning with the broader task of life planning If the pursuit of philosophy is to serve as a practical guide to action, then the wisdom which Aristotle gained from his own experiences is indeed relevant almost 2,400 years later.

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