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When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough: The Search for a Life That Matters

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  402 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
With the same compassion and wisdom that powered his phenomenal bestseller When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Harold Kushner addresses a need that is universal and timeless -- the wish for a meaningful life.
Why is it that, after attaining many of our goals, we are left with a sense that something vital is missing? In his deeply inspiring bestseller, Rabbi Kushner sho
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Touchstone (first published 1986)
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Daniel Petra
Apr 20, 2016 Daniel Petra rated it it was amazing
This book has been guiding me ever since I first read it.
This is what I wrote about it in: Missing Links, page 5:

One of the best ways to get started along the road of self-transformation and behavior modification is to learn to minimize excess pressure and to welcome more pleasure into our lives. Instead of pushing ourselves
to do more and more, why not try to “let go” a little bit and take some time to “smell the roses along the way.” What good is all the money and power if we can never feel s
Jun 05, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book in a laundromat the other day while eating potato chips, I think probably the woman looking at me must have been thinking 'wow is this a scene of depression or what?' However, I'm in fact not depressed, nor was I reading this as a way of seeking out answers to life's big questions. I simply wanted to give Kushner another chance after reading 'To Life' and not rating it very highly. I was, unfortunately, disappointed by this one too and doubt I'll bother reading more by this aut ...more
Alicia Carlsen
May 24, 2012 Alicia Carlsen rated it really liked it
Some quotes that I liked from the book that pretty much sum it up.
"What is life about? It is not about writing great books, amassing great wealth, achieving great power. It is about loving and being loved. . .It is about savoring the beauty of moments that don't last, the sunsets, the leaves turning color, the rare moments of true human communication."
"I have no fear of death because I feel that I have lived. I have loved and I have been loved."
Jul 07, 2013 Frank rated it it was amazing
This is the fifth time I’m reading this.

Funny, how many of his ideas are the same as those in Bolles’ book of the same theme. See my review of Bolles’ book here:

He writes with great sincerity and the prose can be wonderful at times. He uses the Book of Ecclesiastes to help himself answer the question “is there anything I can do to prevent death, or, at least, to be remembered after death? Is there anything I can do to have a meaningful life?”

One of Kushn
Apr 08, 2015 Ingrid rated it it was amazing
First, I love Rabbi Kushner. I read "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" some time after my daughter died. I had abandoned my faith, and this was the book that made me give God another chance - when actually, it was Him giving me another chance.

This book is for those of us who have done all that we think we want, and who find an emptiness inside, and what to do about it. I needed this book too, and would recommend it to anyone who struggles with "Is this all that there is?"
Trina Thai
Mar 20, 2016 Trina Thai rated it it was amazing
I feel that every day, we experience something different, whether it be something insignificant or absolutely traumatic. Either way, these events shape us into who we are, and day by day reading a little bit of this book gave me a new perspective on life. I've come to realize that whatever fortune that we've accumulated throughout our lives will not be the things that go with us to our graves, but the memories, and moments of happiness, sadness, and great joy are the things that we will keep in ...more
Dec 26, 2008 Kathleen rated it really liked it
This is another good book by a Rabbi. He talks about Ecclesiastes. He tells us about the person who wrote this book of the Bible.
This is a good book for old people (50+)who have accomplished a lot and are wondering "what else is there?".
He defines a Mensch and tells us the Talmud says there are three things one should do in the course of one's life. Have a child, plant a tree and write a book. Things that will endure after we are gone.
Josh Cohen
Jan 25, 2016 Josh Cohen rated it it was amazing
Loved this book - a real life changer. Some really powerful thoughts sprinkled amongst the text.
the ecclesiastes references made me quote the Bible for the first time in years. was refreshing to read Kushner's observations on the folly of religious observance as a test to be passed rather than a choice celebrated.

The references to Erik Erikson I also found extremely powerful, the challenge is between generativity and stagnation

I loved this passage:

"if logic tells us that nothing lasts in the l
May 08, 2008 Shirley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
Rabbi Kushner's books always speak to me. And this one based on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, I particularly enjoyed as its core message seems so relevant. Namely, when all is said and done, life is to be enjoyed as it is, not a constant striving to make it different than it is.
Mar 01, 2013 Edward rated it really liked it
I was wandering in the local public library and saw this title of Kushner’s that reminded me that I had read a earlier book by him, WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE, a worthwhile meditation on the problem of evil. And it could be I’m partial to the idea that rabbis usually have something worthwhile to say, so for whatever reason I gave this book a try.

It’s just as worthwhile as BAD THINGS, but despite the title, it’s no conventional “self-help” book, a point that Kushner emphasizes in sayi
Aug 07, 2008 Chazzle rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: wisdom seekers
Recommended to Chazzle by: mentioned Hal Urban's Choices that Change Lives
A more honest title might be: "What Ecclesiastes Meant"; but why scare the general book-buying public away? Anyway, I'm no theologian, so I can't say how much of Kushner's interpretation represents what Ecclesiastes actually meant, but I suspect it's about 60% Ecc'es/40% Kushner.

For me, the best parts were chapters 7 and 8. Chapter 7 deals with the evolution of government and religion over the centuries; and, in "the small", the evolution of morality in children, borrowing heavily from Jean Piag
Penelope Bartotto
Sep 07, 2012 Penelope Bartotto rated it really liked it
Self-help books can be a tricky genre for any writer to venture into, but let's face it someone has to take the chance to write something that "might" help someone else. I can say that I am glad that Kushner took the chance on writing this book. The fact that there are multiple tabs within the books pages to allow me to return to quotes that hit the mark for me is a very good sign.
The subtitle to this book is: The Search for Life That Matters. I think we are all spending far too much time and en
Mar 27, 2011 kb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feeling like the biggest ingrate that ever walked on earth because of being unhappy in spite of having everything you'll ever want? High five. It is why I grabbed this old book from my cousin's shelf. May not have answered everything but it made a lot of sense about why we feel "empty" in spite of the "fullness" of our lives. It also assured me that surprise, surprise, I'm not alone in this "situation" and that it has also happened way before I was even born (even before my parents were born), a ...more
Willa Powell
Nov 17, 2014 Willa Powell rated it really liked it
Must have lent it out... Not on my shelf
Feb 19, 2008 Yak added it
I don't know why I got this book out because I don't generally go for spiritual-slash-pop-psychology books, but I guess it was the catchy title and the author's fame. Like many of these books, he could have issued it as a pamphlet -- lotsa padding here -- but I'd never read Ecclesiastes so it was still somewhat interesting in its analysis of that text. Here, I'll save you the trouble. The crux of the book is: "Be a good person and savor the fleeting moments of this fleeting life, and you won't f ...more
Jordan Kinsey
Mar 21, 2015 Jordan Kinsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book, but not as life-shattering as The Road Less Traveled or some others.
Sep 06, 2009 Tpshinskie rated it liked it
This book is written by a rabbi. Self help books constantly repeats the mesage with different life stories. I read the book because I was trying to figure out my purpose in life. It was my constant question to God, "What am I here for?".

Well the message I got from this book is "you don't know". There are no answers to that question. Your meaning will come and when it does a light will go off. Until then, enjoy what your life, friends and family.
Oct 26, 2011 Stacey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third of Kushner's books I have read (also _When Bad Things Happen to Good People_ and _To Life!_). I plan on reading everything he has written. He deals with complex and emotionally-charged content, but talks about it in a very down-to-earth way. He is never preachy and is honest, but never egocentric, about how his own struggles and triumphs have played a part in his spirituality and his perspective on the world. Another great book!!
May 02, 2011 Jake rated it liked it
I liked it. I don't know whether it is that I am in a different place in my life than when I read "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" and "How Good Do We Have To Be?" or whether the thread of Rabbi Kushner's argument just wasn't quite as strong in this book, but I didn't get as much out of it as I did from the his other books. It's worth a read, but I would definitely recommend his two other aforementioned books before this one.
Actually I liked his quotes from Carl Jung the best. He does a good job of explaining the role of a church community or dimension in one's life. I did not get as much out of the book of Ecclesiasties (Sp?) as the author did though. To me E seemed like one unhappy guy except for the passage that refers to a time to live, a time die, etc.. But I already liked that observation.
Alex Norcross
Sep 04, 2009 Alex Norcross rated it it was ok
Not as insightful as some of his other books. This book analyzes the contents of the book Ecclesiastes, perhaps the most modern-sounding and cynical book in the entire Bible. I don't agree with his interpretations completely and found his conclusion to be a small house at the end of a long road. Section Seven (Who's Afraid of the Fear of God) was the best section for me.
Mar 21, 2014 Brenda rated it it was amazing
Its a very pleasant but honest book about life's passings.
Martin Goldberg
Jan 05, 2014 Martin Goldberg rated it really liked it
Everything by Harold Kushner is great. Not quite as outstanding as his other works, but still very good.
May 21, 2012 Jay rated it it was amazing
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is like expecting a bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.” A thoughtful discussion of finding meaning in life, using the Book of Ecclesiastes as a back-drop.
May 27, 2012 M! rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
"When Nothing Bothers You" is an awful translation of the title of this book. It should be: "When Nothing Is Enough for You."

Turns out this is a pretty religion oriented book. Well, a Christianity oriented book, which is even more egocentric.
Mar 08, 2009 Lloyd rated it it was amazing
A great book for those over 35... or those that bloom early! This is also the author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People. also a must read. Easy reading that gives a clear perspective on searching for a life that matters.
May 02, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, faith
Kushner has a unique way of presenting life in terms that make you rethink your priorities. Reading it just one time isn't enough. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, go. You will leave a changed person.
Jul 28, 2008 Seritasunflower rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
My favorite in in this whole book is, "Power, like water, flows downhill from someone in a higher position to someone lower down." This sentence helped me to understand corporate structure better. :)
Aug 07, 2010 Pam is currently reading it
I love the way in which Rabbi Kushner tells stories, uses metaphor and refers to the Bible. I always feel inspired and more secure after reading his books.
Feb 08, 2011 Monica rated it it was amazing
Very intriguing. I actually cried when I finished this book. I just out of highschool and pondering the whole college thing.
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Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is the author of more than a dozen books on coping with life’s challenges, including, most recently, the best-selling Conquering Fear and Overcoming Life’s Disappointments.
More about Harold S. Kushner...

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“You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something.” 7 likes
“Several recent authors have written of “the imposter phenomenon,” describing the feeling of many apparently successful people that their success is undeserved and that one day people will unmask them for the frauds they are.” 0 likes
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