How Philosophy Can Save Your Life



How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most
by Marietta McCarty


Published by
Tarcher / Penguin




Buy the Book

Signed and personalized copies of all three books by Marietta are now available through Stone Soup Books. Contact us here with the details of your request. Books can be picked up in the Charlottesville/Waneysboro VA area as well as shipped worldwide.

Also available at these locations and more:
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound (Local Independent Bookstores)
New Dominion Bookshop
PVCC BookStore (Call 434.961.5317)


About the Book

“Where’s my book?” asked sheepish adults, confessing that they were reading Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids for their personal enjoyment even though it was intended for grownups to use with children. “At last I can “do” philosophy,” they beamed. Now, at last…. Here’s your very own book!

The glass half full that graces the cover of How Philosophy Can Save Your Life captures the book’s heart. Mental vigor and clarity has the power to change how we view the world and our place in it. Our outlooks shift when we think as if for the first time about the meaning and the value of the ten key ideas. Priorities rearrange themselves naturally. Good conversations and quiet reflection reveal new insights as well as old knowledge somehow forgotten. What is good living? This book is an invitation to every reader to ask that question and to enjoy unraveling the answer, piece by piece, and to have fun along the way. While it can be enjoyed alone, it is designed for respectful conversation in communities of any number. Diverse contributions in dialogue resemble the colors of a prism, all shedding more light on the topic. Personal, private reflection is thereby more productive. Ah, the realization that there are so many stories, such varied ways of seeing a vast world that has room for all. We gather together and come to know each other better.

The ten big ideas: simplicity, communication, perspective, flexibility, empathy, individuality, belonging, serenity, possibility, and joy. What do they mean, really mean? If we know better what communication is, then we will be better at it. If we think clearly about simplicity, we can indeed slow down and savor the moment. Understanding perspective enhances our own. Possibilities can be realized when we recognize them and learn to embrace opportunities. Thriving on a sense of belonging — while retaining individuality — can be achieved with new appreciation for what it means to belong and what it means to be true to one’s self. Empathy turns out to be smart. Flexibility comes more easily. Serenity and joy, regardless of circumstance, can be ours for the asking. Here’s how….

Each chapter explores one idea from many angles. First, the author presents the concept and probes for its center, explains its ongoing appeal in her philosophical circles, and paves the way for the investigation into simplicity, serenity, etc. Next, two philosophers are presented whose theories make perfect tools for close examination of possibility, empathy…. These philosophers range from ancient to modern, female to male, and represent a broad array of cultures: Plato and Jane Addams, Simone de Beauvoir and Shunryu Suzuki, Bertrand Russell and Mary Wollstonecraft, Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama. Get ready because….

Things heat up now! Discussion questions are offered to spark your conversation. Are you an attentive listener? Does empathy come naturally to you? Is the pull of the crowd hard to resist? Have you forgotten reasons to be grateful? What part is yours to play in the world? Why had you given up on possibility? When does your heart fill? The party continues when ….

matthewmuddYou mix and match engaging ways to continue your exploration of the slowly unfolding concept. Music of all kinds awaits: Mozart and Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash and Miriam Makeba, Miles Davis and Edith Piaf, Cat Power and Bach…. Poetry beckons: Mary Oliver and Shakespeare, Rumi and Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove and Dylan Thomas, Gabriela Mistral and Thich Nhat Hanh…. Prose perhaps: Maya Angelou and Frank McCourt, Gandhi and Bobbie Ann Mason, Steve Martin and Toni Morison, Tove Jansson and Billie Jean King…. Popcorn and a film, documentary or drama, feet up: The Hobart Shakespeareans and Hamlet, Planet Earth and A Doll’s House, Death of a Salesman and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Emmanuel’s Gift and The Night of the Iguana….

Finally, individual and group activities are suggested, maybe one for today and one to do as a group later. All the resources used are listed at the end of each chapter.

There is no right way to use this book – plenty of ideas are offered in the introduction along with ways to start your philosophy group. Begin your evening with a movie or discussion questions if you like. Listen to music as you reflect on the concept under investigation perhaps. It’s your book now to adapt as you practice the art of clear thinking. If the reader gains as much insight and has as much fun as the author did in conversing and thinking through the ideas while writing this book, then philosophy will bring riches to your life. The glass can be more than half full.

McCarty wins Nautilus Book Award
How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most received the top honor in its category of Personal Growth/Psychology – the Gold Award.nautilusbookaward

The Nautilus Book Awards were conceived to recognize books that “promote spiritual growth, conscious living, and positive social change as they stimulate the imagination and inspire the reader to new possibilities for a better world.” The winners and finalists are carefully selected in a three-tier judging process by an experienced team of book reviewers, librarians, authors, editors, bookstore owners, and leaders in the publishing industry. Winning titles were displayed at the Nautilus Awards Showcase Exhibit at BookExpo America held in the Jacob Javits Center in New York on May 26-27, 2010.

Here is a peek inside the book:

  • To build your Communication skills, “Get Up and Do” these exercises (p. 59):
    • Intentionally engage in conversation with someone whose lifestyle and viewpoint differ from your own.
    • Write a letter that matters to you and that you know will make a difference to the recipient.
  • When pondering Flexibility, ask yourself and/or discuss  (pgs. 115 & 116):
    • How do you impose deadlines and demands on your life unnecessarily?
    • What is a firmly held belief that you discarded upon further reflection? What are some assumptions that you regret?
  • To increase your Serenity, “Read and Talk” about (pgs. 253-255):
    • Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder
    • Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations
    • William Shutkin’s A Republic of Trees: Field Notes on People, Place and the Planet

Foreign Rights:

cover_southkoreahpcsyl_chinaSouth Korea: Published by Timebooks in Seoul, cover shown to left (Korean).
China: Published by Posts and Telecommunications Press (Chinese simplified).