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Living a Life That Matters: Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,167 ratings  ·  132 reviews
From the bestselling author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People comes a profound and practical book about doing well by doing good. Rabbi Kushner suggests that the path to a truly successful life lives in friendship, family, acts of generosity and self-sacrifice, as well as God's forgiving nature. ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf
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Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Years ago I enjoyed reading Rabbi Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People. "Living a Life that Matters" follows in a similar approach; short and concise, but coherent and realistic. A recurring theme throughout the book is the life of the biblical patriarch Jacob, who lived a most interesting life. Early in life he was disengenuous, "stealing" his brother's birthright and then deceiving his father, Isaac. But, what goes around comes around, when he wanted to marry Rachel, and instead his ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
During my weekly library browsing day last week, I found a book called Living a Life that Matters by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner. I had been looking for another book to read that would give insight into living life for and with God. However, there have been few authors recently that write on this subject that I have been able to get into. This was a quick read, insightful, and I had a hard time putting it down.

In a world where we can feel ignored or lost in the crowd, overwhelmed by all the pressure
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a very lovely way to spend a Saturday morning during a tough time of year. I sort of like to think of Harold Kushner as my spiritual advisor since When Bad Things Happen to Good People helped me so much after my dad died. This one is a meditation on what it means to be a "good person", which was more relevant reading for this stage of grief, and in general a topic I like to think about, learn about, challenge my brain with.

This was the third book I've ready by Kushner and I have loved
Ann Baxter
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Kushner has a way of making all of us feel better about ourselves yet want to strive to be better. His use of the biblical Jacob to explain the internal conflicts within us all was fascinating. Kushner is an intelligent yet thoughtful writer.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
This book is a thoughtful discourse on what makes life matter, on what can bring significance to a single life. Kushner notes that worldly success often appears to come only with the demise of personal conscience, but he also argues persuasively that it needn't be this way. Using the biblical story of Jacob, who tricked his own brother into selling his birthright but later became a sincere man of God, Kushner teaches us that we CAN change for the better, we CAN "succeed" without sacrificing our ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy the time I spend with Harold Kushner.
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book - it deals thoughtfully with many aspects of our existence, beginning with helping us to conceptualize our dual needs/goals of success and significance. On the whole, it is written in a straightforward, common sense style, refreshingly free of dogma and cant. As such, then, it delivers piercing insights into our human nature and our (need for/ inclination toward) spirituality that are as convincing as they are clear. After having been disappointed by his earlier, far be ...more
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing

I loved this book so much, I bought copies as gifts to share with others. Kushner gathers together material from many great souls and shares their combined wisdom in a lovely narrative interwoven with biblical exegesis.
Some of my favorite quotes from this book:

p.145 As Mother Teresa said, "Few of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love."

p.158 " A good person, even in death, is still alive."

p. 154 "If a person has known love, has felt and given love, that person'
Jun 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love the words of Harold Kushner. Though, I am not Jewish what he writes is timeless and for anyone who truly wants to become a better person. I finished this book last month but I already have started to reread the book. The book definitely should be read many times.
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite authors. He is most famous for writing "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." This book weaves philsophy and religion in a common sense practical approach that is applicable to everyday life. ...more
JR Simons
Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Wasn't really what I was looking for. ...more
David Rickert
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lot of good stuff in here. I really liked the chapter on revenge.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality, essays
Loved this book and it is one that I will return to often. For its lessons are timeless.
Aaron Mikulsky
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As I was home in December 2020, after my mom’s death, I found this book in a pile of my mom’s papers. It must have been a sign. I needed this book. We all need this book. What a gem! After reading it, I was inspired to re-read Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning. I noticed that Kushner wrote the foreword to it. It’s not odd, it’s God.
Kushner says, “this book is the product of many minds and hands. The years behind me far outnumber the years ahead.” Coincidently, this book was first pub
Aric Hluch
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Living a Life That Matters is a short treatise on, well, living a life that matters. Kushner references a wide range of intellectuals' views, from Plato and Rousseau to Jung and Dostoevsky. His insights were refreshing and empowering, offering unique perspectives on what it means to truly love and carry out our commitments to doing good. Although the overall theme of the book is a bit hackneyed, Kushner manages to suffuse each chapter with fair and thorough investigations into human nature. He d ...more
Linda Layne
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first work written by Harold Kushner. I had heard of "Living a Life That Matters" and was looking forward to reading it. I would have to say that I appreciated the way that Rabbi Kushner used examples from the Bible, the Torah, and his conversations with people to emphasize points throughout the book.

I found him to be honest, to the point, yet not condemning, preachy, or self-righteous. I also greatly appreciated his sense of humor. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wh
Nio Nova Christiana
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of Harold Kushner's book that is very fascinating, profound thoughts, and so founded.
This book gives enlightened people who try to find the meaning of life, ruling a role in the life that they are bestowed. I enjoy most parts of it despite some parts that give me an ''ambivalent'' and even an ambiguous sense. The part of words of Gods to Jeremiah and its supporting relevant story leaves me in hazy opposing thought. I may call my "expert" friend to discuss in this regard... haha.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bible-studies
I have picked this book up and read different parts so often. I finally sat down in 2019 and read it from start to finish. It has incredible lessons from shared stories of the Bible and other great reads with Kushner’s shared thoughts.
I will reread it now a lot. It will stay at my bedside because of its value to me to remember to always be kind and love others. It provides much needed lessons to share in small groups, with friends, in a Bible Study or church class.
I will go on to read Kushner’
Martin Young
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Needed to Read This Today

At times in the past few weeks I have found myself very near despair. The onslaught of pandemic and ongoing (and ever escalating) divisiveness in political /cultural warfare left me feeling very alone, and --worse--that every value I have come to hold dear over the years was in fact a mirage at best, or at worst a con used to prey upon the weak and gullible. Reading this book has done more than anything else to help me find a way back to hope and sanity.
Mar 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Geschke
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First book I’ve ever read by Harold Kushner. Fantastic. The first couple chapters sucked me in, and even though I was reading ten other books at the time this book took over as my main read right away. Bogged down a little in the middle, but so good beginning and at the end that I’m giving it five stars and highly recommending it to anyone interested in living a life of significance. And, that’s pretty much all of us, right?
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
“i see every human being as having good and bad tendencies, impulses to charity and impulses to charity and impulses to selfishness, to desire to be truthful and the desire to lie. that would explain why good people can be corrupted by the prospect of financial gain or led astray by anger, why criminals can display affection and loyalty."

being a decent human being is not about being kind all the time, there is time you can do bad things. and that's on being a human, and it's okay.
Dinh Hong
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a habit, I love to randomly browse shelves of the library and pick any book that interests me. I'm so happy and enjoy to read Living a life that matters. Briefly, the book discussed all matters that human always tried to question, understand and practice in their life. With each issue, Harold told us stories, connection, suggested various clever, meaningful and thinkings. This is a great book. Everyone should have in their own library. ...more
Ed Barton
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book provides perspective on the meaning of life from the standpoint of accomplishment and purpose. Kushner provides tremendous insights on the role of the parent, the spouse, the child and the little things that make each of our lives have purpose and meaning. The stories are fantastic, as is the book as a whole. A great read.
Toby Philpott
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book

I’ve rarely read such books but this one certainly arrived at the right time in my life. The messages Rabbi Kutchner focuses on in this book are fundamental ones. How can we matter and how can we lead a good life. Well worth reading.
Dean Kephart
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read this before, but this time found so much more truth to the book. If you are thinking about what your legacy might be, pick up a copy of this book and see what Rabbi Kushner suggest that it will be. It is fascinating and inspiring.
Michelle Easton Williams
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great, quick read that reminds of what is really important. While using a biblical story as a reference through the book, it does not require knowledge of either Judaism or Christianity to be appreciated. At the end of the day we all just want to know we matter.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book! Rabbi Kushner has a way of talking to everyone. Thought provoking. . . insightful. . . inspiring. Would recommend this to anyone.
Anju Mai
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a lovely, moving and warm-hearted book! I will read more of Harold S. Kushner's books in the future. ...more
Billie Pritchett
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help
Will review later.
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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.

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