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Making the Good Life Last

Book Description

So many of us are beset by anxiety, depression, loneliness, and spiritual malaise, tense and unhappy despite our gadgets and goodies. Michael Schuler, leader of the nation’s largest Unitarian Universalist congregation, says it’s because, urged on by an aggressively materialist culture, we too often opt for short-term gratification and long-term denial. In this thoughtful and deeply honest book, he helps us find a life path that leads to treasures of perennial value: a beautiful and healthy earth home, enduring relationships, strong communities, work that contributes to the common good, and play that restores our bodies and lifts our souls. Deconstructing the assumption that consumption, stimulation, and constant motion comprise the good life, Schuler urges the wholesale embrace of sustainability as both an operational principle and a life-sustaining core value. His book presents sustainability as a coherent frame of reference that can ground us spiritually, heal us internally, and deepen our relationships. Schuler identifies four behavioral principles for living sustainably—Pay Attention, Stay Put, Exercise Patience, and Practice Prudence—and shows how to apply them in our daily lives. He uses stories from his own life to illuminate the rewards and challenges of sustainable living and shares insights from environmentalists, social commentators, writers, poets, businesspeople, and spiritual leaders. Sustainability means more than mere survival—for individuals, just as for natural and social systems, it’s the key to thriving rather than burning out. For those seeking a more profoundly satisfying way of life, Schuler’s heartfelt explorations offer a counter intuitive answer: the sustainable life is the good life.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Foreword
  5. Preface
  6. Introduction: Sustaining Ourselves
    1. A Personal Awakening
    2. Sustainability: A Concept Whose Time Has Come
    3. Common Assumptions and Uncommon Associations
    4. Reassessing Our Priorities
    5. Sustainability: A Means, Not an End
    6. What Do We Have to Lose?
    7. Surviving and Thriving
  7. Part One: Reimagining the Good Life
    1. Chapter 1: Embracing New Rules of Conduct
      1. Pay Attention
      2. Stay Put
      3. Exercise Patience
      4. Practice Prudence
    2. Chapter 2: Releasing Old Habits of Thought and Belief
      1. The Christian Conundrum
      2. Humanism’s Unconfirmed Optimism
      3. Capitalism: Have We Made Too Many Compromises?
      4. The Broken Promise of Technology
  8. Part Two: The Four Keys
    1. Chapter 3: Pay Attention
      1. A Famous Piece of Advice: Look!
      2. Attending to Ourselves: Health, Wellness, and Fitness
      3. Enhancing Our Work Experience
      4. Establishing More Satisfying Relationships
      5. The Attentive Volunteer
    2. Chapter 4: Stay Put
      1. The Happy Tale of a Small City Diner
      2. The Tale of Our Great Cities
      3. Vocation and Staying Put
      4. Staying Put in Personal Life
      5. Staying Put in Our Relationships
      6. Investing in a Faith Community
    3. Chapter 5: Exercise Patience
      1. Cultivating a New Attitude
      2. No Speed Limits (on Anything)
      3. Strengthening the Muscle of Patience at Mealtime
      4. Slow Down and Live a Little
      5. Closed on Sunday
      6. The Land Itself Grows Weary
      7. Patience and Community Improvement
    4. Chapter 6: Practice Prudence
      1. An Unhealthy Predilection
      2. Not Too Late to Learn
      3. Low Prices and High Mortality
      4. Focus on the Local
      5. Ancient Wisdom for a New Age
      6. The Real Bottom Line is Happiness
      7. Unfit for Life: Prudence and Personal Choices
      8. Kids, Careers, and Other Complexities
  9. Conclusion: A Sustainable Code of the Soul
    1. Consider the Spirit
    2. Moderation, Not Martyrdom
    3. Toward a Graceful Exit
    4. The Optimal Attitude
  10. Notes
    1. Preface
    2. Introduction
    3. Chapter 1
    4. Chapter 2
    5. Chapter 3
    6. Chapter 4
    7. Chapter 5
    8. Chapter 6
    9. Conclusion
  11. Acknowledgments
  12. Index
  13. About the Author
  14. About Berrett-Koehler Publishers
    1. A BK Life Book
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