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What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  394 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The celebrated author of "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life" delivers a unique look at happiness, sharing a Jungian approach to finding a fearless, authentic path.
Why are we here? What is the meaning of existence? What truly matters the most in life? To even begin to answer these questions, we must start by exploring our own internal ideals, values, and beliefs.
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Gotham Books
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Rich Procter
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Love James Hollis. What I like best about Hollis is his wry, honest approach to the challenges of facing life with courage and compassion. This is the opposite of "pop self-help." Hollis says that life is messy...failure is not only possible but necessary...and we're all very likely to face middle age with a sense that we've climbed the ladder of success, only to discover that the ladder is up against the wrong building. I come back to this book again and again for its wisdom an ...more
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's true that Hollis seems stuck on large, obscure words most of us have never heard, let alone used. However all this dies down by the second half of the book, so hang in there.

Hollis is, in my opinion, the Jungian who makes Jung most accessible to the general public. His message in this book, that we are all called to be who our psyche/soul summons us to be, entails, of course, a complex, tortuous journey. Ultimately, the goal in life is not happiness, but meaning.
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this day of managed care, few people can afford more than short term crisis oriented psychotherapy. The profound value of Hollis's writings is that he provides the type of wisdom and insight characteristic of long term psychodynamic therapy. In "What Matter's Most", Hollis looks at the subject of happiness without the cliche written vocabulary typical of recent self help books on happiness. He encourages readers to find their essence and to live life to its fullest, being true to their own id ...more
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Dense food for thought that needs rereading to further absorb. Heavily influenced by Jung, this collection of reflections is about, among other things, escaping the comfort of well-worn scripts that mollify the ego, in order to live the fullest life one has available.
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a very explorative answer to the millions of questions no doubt posed by those in the "second half" of life. The answer? Ambiguity. Plain and simple. Life is the journey and listening for the calling(s) in your life is all the answer that you need.
Hollis explains that the first half of life is dealing with the outside world and outside achievements. That could be gettiing married, having a family, education, obtaining a paying job perhaps. The second half is the philosophical journ
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most helpful books I've read in a long time.
Mar 05, 2018 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is the March 2018 selection of South Austin Spiritual Book Group.
Mary Karpel-Jergic
This is my second James Hollis book and will end up being part of my collection of his books - I shall probably get them all. I have found a voice in Hollis which resonates deeply within me. The Jungian perspective that informs his analytical mind and his own philosophy on life based upon his own experiences and those of his clients make him such an interesting read. Interesting and equally challenging. I am still a novice with regard to many of the Jungian concepts but this does not prevent my ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-growth
James Hollis - a jungian psychiatrist discusses the challenges facing adults in the "second half of life". We spend the first half of life fulfilling the prescribed roles and responsibilities given to us by our family, culture and society. We spend the second half dealing with fall out from those roles and trying to bring authenticity and integrity to our lives. A very helpful book
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio version and would probably have been turned off by the book due to it's big words and flowery discussion however, there were a lot of nuggets of truth that made me stop the CD and jot down the line for future reference. Once my library gets a hard copy I want to take my time and read it slowly to gain it's full value.
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Hollis is a contemporary philosopher who sometimes uses a number of words I have never heard of. He sheds a lot of useful light, however, on issues that are timeless such as living with purpose and reframing our own mortality. Take your time with this one.
Stephanie Ladd
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw James Hollis speak at a Jungian conference and he is brilliant. This book is about living a life that matters and cutting through the dross. In other words, how to live a soulful life.
Sharyn Campbell
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sharyn by: For Chrysalis book group, Feb 2018
Paraphrased from Chapter 3, but I think this captures the spirit of the book: "Soul is the literal translation of the Greek word psyche; it is inherently indefinable but is a word, a metaphor, to describe what we consider to be our essence. It is the energy that blows through us, that enters us at birth, animates our journey, and then departs, wither we know not, at our passing. As the brain is the organ of thought, and the heart the organ of circulation, and the stomach the organ of digestion, ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful intelligent grown up book by James Hollis. This book is about finding your true path through listening to your inner dialogue and felt sense of who you feel you truly are and aligning this with your actions. Being authentic takes commitment and courage and has no guarantees, but life will be richer and authentic to your unique calling in life. Hollis says the journey is more important than the end goals and results and holding the mystery in life helps us live with humility, ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the search for the meaning of life on earth, it's a colossal p.i.t.a. to have to search for the meaning of every 5th word in a sentence.
Many have said all this, and said it better, more accessibly for more people, without all the pretension shown in James Hollis's writing. I get it - he wants us to appreciate his PhD, which he definitely sees as pile it higher and deeper than the next PhD. Not putting up with this kind of 'wisdom' anymore. This information is not this difficult to understand
Mary Jane Hurley Brant
In What Matters Most, Dr. James Hollis legitimizes inner conflicts that we as individuals must struggle with if we are to call ourselves conscious. In this spiritually and verbally rich book the reader is invited to discover and live his or her own truth so as to appreciate the abundant rewards that a "More Considered Life" offers.

This book was so satisfying to me that it was not only food for thought; it was a banquet for my soul.
Rich Law
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Infuriatingly written at times, with an almost parodically peculiar propensity for peppering his prose with a plethora of alliteration, but a compassionate exploration of self-help and the meanings of life nonetheless.
Daniel E. Horgan
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Affirms what the heart already knows.

A book for people who wish to live fully into this one "precious life" we've been given and find out life's course.

Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wisdom for our times of trouble. A challenge to wake up to who we could be.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is it that prevents psychologists from talking like lay people? I think Jung has wonderful things to say, but I'd think they could be said in simpler words.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-books, again

This book has taken me over a year to read. I do not think I will in reality ever finish it - I envision picking it up occasionally when I require James Hollis's sage wisdom. It is already well thumbed by others before me. It was a poignant gift from a precious and equally wise mentor. I have underlined many pertinent pieces a first for me but a habit i think I will cultivate. I will not be lending this book to anyone. It came at a time in my life when things were a little s
Nov 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author of more than a dozen books, James Hollis, Ph.D., teaches at the Jung Center of Houston and is a distinguished faculty member of the Saybrook Graduate School in San Francisco. In this book he shares his thoughts about finding meaning in your life. His discussion of how going through difficult times can actually be very liberating resonated with me because that's exactly what I experienced. Having lived through something you think is going to kill you and you survive, gives me a whole n ...more
Difficult and challenging read. But makes you think if you can persevere. Offers 11 notions to us for consideration especially into your mature years. I wrote a 'digest' of this book and still refer to it along with Comte-Sponville's, A Short Treatise on the Great Virtues.
I'm not happy with his entire book: a bit too wordy and self-indulgent in showing his vocabulary, and as a Jungian psychologist, a bit too much religiosity for my taste. I'm more of a biological materialist when it comes to con
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book to give it as a gift to someone who is retiring and trying to figure out her next purpose/path in life. I read a few pages a year or so ago and decided not to give her the book.

I read this book this past month. Vocabulary was difficult.I looked up many words. Even though I have a broad understanding of Jungian psychology and background in psychology I found this difficult to read.Glad I didn't give it as a gift. I will donate it to the library book sale.

On the positive side..
Jt O'Neill
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoughtful consideration for people who are entering the second part of life. Once work has been established and perhaps family has been raised, what really matters? I find myself thinking that life's good surprises are over (all that is left are the sad surprises) and I find myself stumbling with "Is that all there is?". Hollis has written an accessible guide to the post 50 years old time. I think the thing that got me the most was his encouragement to make friends with ambiguity, to ...more
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous reading for anyone searching for meaning and questioning the mysteries of life. Hollis is a Jungian analyst who works at the Jung Institute in Houston, TX. His background shines as he explains the ideas behind our internal pysches and their demands upon us, and the richness the can result from obeying their calls and the misery that results from ignoring them. I would have given it 5 stars but found certain minor sections of it took some discipline to get through. For the most part thou ...more
Desmond Sherlock
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Bro:The more the conscious mind in out of sync with, our gods inspired subconscious, the more likely we'll be sad.

For me:
that there are enough warning signs for me anyway from my inner gods(dangerous to speak for the poverty stricken person in Manila) to step up and take action.
But still have permission to fail, not doing it perfectly and see if someone else can at least appreciate my attempt.

"What matters most" for me is the attempt to step up!
James Hollis’s Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life is the only self-help-type book I’ve ever bought, and I think he is wonderful, the real deal. (I was maybe 35 when I picked it up; midlife crisis is the only area of life where I’ve been precocious.) Hollis calls this more recent book “an eccentric compilation,” and its rambling quality was less satisfying to me, but he was good company nonetheless, and I will be returning to the library for more.
Jan 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting perspective from a Jungian. Lots of work to do to get to what matters most, because it's so individual (no bromides or cliches here) . . . worthwhile, especially for those willing to invest the time, with the intellectual fortitude to get through it.
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm finding this book harder to read than I thought...but worth the time.

Finally finished it. There are so many important concepts in the book, although I found it dense and hard to read. Worth the effort.
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James Hollis, Ph. D. is Executive Director of the Jung Center of Houston, TX, a practicing Jungian Analyst (psychotherapy developed by C.G. Jung - the eminent Swiss psychiatrist), and author of eleven books.
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“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.” 57 likes
“Learning to live with ambiguity is learning to live with how life really is, full of complexities and strange surprises..:” 15 likes
More quotes…