Creating the Good Life
IN THIS SUMMARY
Five hundred years before the Christian Era, teacher and consultant, Aristotle, offered practical guidance that is just as applicable to thoughtful people in today's post-9/11 era as it was to the leaders of ancient Athens. And, what is this guidance? Essentially, it is, as Walter Isaacson stated so succinctly in his foreword, "the path to making virtue part of our character-acquiring a general disposition to do what is best-begins by critically examining the nature of our desires, understanding which of them is truly a component of the good life, and realizing how these fit into the concept of a good society." O'Toole begins Creating the Good Life by explaining that, in his 50s, he, like so many born immediately after World War II, found himself questioning whether he had accomplished enough and wondering how he could make the best use of the time remaining to him. Suddenly, the conventional wisdom, concerning what constitutes the "good life," seemed "wanting in meaning, purpose, and practicality." This "mid-course self-examination" led him to seek a personally meaningful definition of happiness that would give direction to the rest of his life, which he found in the insights of Greek philosopher Aristotle. O'Toole's interpretation of these 2,500-year-old principles forms a modern context in which professionals, businesspeople, and thoughtful readers can consider how to lead a good life and create a good society. Illustrating Aristotle's wisdom with examples from the real world, which offer a range of solutions to everyday challenges of life and work, the author offers a practical, accessible self-help guide to attaining the awareness, knowledge, and sense of community that can lead to a complete life of true fulfillment. Inspired by Aristotle's understanding of how mature men and women may put aside their youthful fantasies about money and celebrity and find the true components of a good life, O'Toole reminds us that "failure to engage in effective life [our emphasis] planning is as risky in the long run as failure to engage in financial planning." What make this reminder so compelling are the author's revelations about his own self-defeating behavior in his quest for more money and his "pathetic craving for [professional] respect and approval." Through his own agonizing life experiences, O'Toole speaks intimately to all mid-lifers suffering under the delusion that the good life depends on "obtaining ever more material goods, prestige, power, career success, sensual pleasure, and social approval."