About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#58: Lighten Up

Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier With Less, by Peter Walsh (New York: Free Press, 2011).
"It seems as though not a day goes by that we don't think about money. We cut back on spending. We chase a bargain. We try to save more. We strive to use less credit. We worry about funding our retirement and our children's education. Yet we continue to spend money on things that don't matter. The author knows that money and debt can overwhelm your life even faster than clutter, and he has a plan to help deal with that emotional and financial chaos. His previous bestselling books inspired us to successfully evict the clutter in our homes, on our bodies, and in six key areas of our lives. But for many people, clearing the clutter suddenly exposes deeper issues, financial, physical, and emotional. Sometimes our problems are not really about the physical stuff but about the emotional fabric of our lives, from our relationships with money to our relationships with people and even how we define and find happiness. In this work, the author demonstrates that this reassessment of priorities is a great opportunity to examine our lives and circumstances and to make the changes necessary to focus on the things that really matter. Exploring the real source of happiness, he offers a clear strategy for finding the delicate balance between what we have, what we need, and what we want or feel entitled to. With three unique audits that cover every aspect of our well-being, he takes us step by step through sizing up not just our possessions and financial statements but also our thoughts, goals, use of time and energy, and even our innermost sources of tension. He then shows us how to embrace the changes we've experienced, set a new path for the future, and come to accept that living on less can feel and be so much richer. This book instructs how to:

  • Change the way you and your family measure happiness
  • Face your financial situation and set realistic priorities
  • Create space for what really matters
  • Plan realistically for financial and emotional security
  • Be happier with less
His plan will help you achieve personal balance that brings happiness and the courage to choose a rewarding life over the mindless pursuit of more stuff."

Table of Contents:

Part I: From Living on Less to Living with More
  • 1. The Life You Imagine for Yourself
  • 2. What Makes You Happy?
Part II: From Audit to Action
  • 3. The Personal Audit: Your Life
  • 4. Create Space for What Really Matters
  • 5. The Financial Audit: Your Money
  • 6. Face the Financials
  • 7. The Home Audit: Your Stuff
  • 8. Change the Way You and Your Family Measure Happiness
Part III: From Today to Tomorrow and Beyond
  • 9. Checkup and Maintenance
  • Epilogue: New Beginnings
My Take:
Yes, it's a self-help book. Yes, the above review makes it sound pretty darned cheesy. But y'know, I actually enjoyed/ got something out of this one. Maybe it's my own predilection for grand, holistic theories; maybe it's just that I stumbled across it in a rough week of trying to figure out whether I'm in a period of transition or whether this really is the new normal, and how to navigate it in either case ... but Walsh put a lot of things together that make sense and aren't too oversimplified (a little bit, sure, but that's to be expected), but which I hadn't really thought about before. Again, details are fuzzy when a month has gone by, but if I want to reread Butterfly's Child -- I think (wait for it) I may actually want to own this one, and maybe a few of Walsh's other books, too.

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