Reader Comments: How Philosophy Can Save Your Life




Left: A cup of tea and reading the chapter on Serenity motivated a contented reader to send this calming photo.



“For 40 years, our Counseling Department has sponsored a winter workshop that draws over 100 graduate students, school counselors, and regional mental health professionals. For the first 39 years, we invited regional and national experts in the counseling field. I was familiar with Marietta’s fabulous book, “How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: Ten Ideas that Matter Most” and suggested to the planning committee that we invite Marietta to share ideas from her book. During and after the workshop, so many people came up to us and thanked us for bringing Marietta McCarty to Cincinnati. “She was incredible. I can’t wait to read the book!” And other comments included “extraordinary,” “refreshing,” “stimulating,” “enjoyable,” “moving,” and “life-changing.” I can’t imagine an audience that would not find her words (spoken or read) thought-provoking, incredibly moving, and spot-on relevant!”

Brent G. Richardson, Ed.D. LPCC-S
Xavier University Counseling Department Chair, Professor
Author of Working with Challenging Youth: Seven Guiding Principles

“As a seasoned professional who has returned to graduate school to seek a second career in clinical mental health counseling, my heart is often filled with the joy of learning. However, the joy spilled over when Marietta shared a Miles Davis tune from his “Kind of Blue” album, during which the audience sat quietly, meditatively, contemplatively and wrote. It was a beautiful experience and another awakening to life’s great riches! I was thankful to be among the 100+ participants and thankful to have met such a spirited, humorous, good soul.”

Rebecca A. Morra
M.A. Candidate | Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Xavier University | Department of Counseling

“Thanks for sharing your wisdom and enthusiasm with us this past weekend at Xavier. I’m so glad Brent invited you. As a therapist, I was struck by the many connections between your ideas and concepts we use in psychology. This week I started teaching a basic counseling class at a Catholic seminary in Cincinnati — the students were pleased (but surprised) when I told them you had presented on philosophy to a group of therapists. It was a great opportunity to talk with them about the necessity of grounding any good counseling in a solid philosophical framework. Best wishes in all your good work and know that you sparked a lot of questions and insights for me that I will continue to pursue.”

Kevin J. Prendergast, LPCC-S
Senior Treatment Coordinator and Clinical Counselor

“Why should it take great pain, suffering or tragedy in life to find the beauty and joy? Marietta in one conference offered a new lens for all to find beauty, joy, happiness, and acknowledge our success in everyday life. Thank you to her for sharing ways to empty our minds of clutter to make room for true living—a life that is easier, happier and more fulfilled. I am living in the present and loving, with gratitude, every precious moment. Marietta opened our minds as well as our hearts.”

Susan Wheeler
Hollins University
Office of Institutional Advancement


“The process of uprooting from S.W. Georgia, relocating to Virginia and starting a new life is challenging from myriad perspectives. A particularly bittersweet challenge was leaving a group I had been in study, conversation and community with for a number of years. I knew that there would be nothing more welcoming and healing for me than meeting new people who share the love of conversation that is deep, meaningful and generously laced with good humor. This is exactly what I literally stumbled into when I was introduced to Marietta McCarty’s How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most and a group of inquisitive, heart-centered individuals.

The book is one of those rare gems of thought and writing that are both accessible and SMART, distilling into conversational language what is often daunting within the pages of classical philosophy. Designed for both individual and group pondering, reading the short chapters brings focus to what truly matters, engaging heart, mind and imagination. In a a few, short weeks, I have found a “home” of beautiful minds who understand that joy comes from sharing what, indeed, matters most. What better way is there to celebrate a new beginning?”

Susan R. Miller


“You are one heck of a good writer and How Philosophy Can Save Your Life is filled with wisdom. I am a retired Presbyterian minister and Hospice Chaplain who is now a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. But I tell you what! This book is my “Bible” now.”

J. Stimson Hawkins, Greensboro, North Carolina


“Wish I could have been enrolled in one of your Philosophy Classes before you left to embark on your career as an Author. The first page of your book,”How Philosophy Can Save Your Life” contained a lesson…The Importance of Asking Good Questions… that I finally learned during the latter part of my career as an Urban Planner.

Bob Lawrence, Virginia


“It was great to be a part of “The Philosopher’s Table” discussion last weekend. Hearing you speak was a breath of fresh air. After Sara and I left, I mentioned to her that I felt as if I had gone to church.

Thank you for being such a gifted teacher, Marietta. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for changing my life for the better. Your work touched my life in a lasting way and I will forever be thankful that life placed you in my path.

It’s been close to twenty years since I sat in your classrooms, Marietta, yet I vividly remember your passion for teaching philosophy to third grade children and your thoughts on how the education system needs a philosophical overhaul. It has been a joy to watch your success from afar. A special treat was hearing your interview on NPR. I think that I was grinning from ear to ear through most of the interview. Diane Rehm was downright giddy. What a fantastic moment. It is beautiful to see the fruits of your years and years of hard work. I hope that you are aware of how many lives you have touched through your teaching. Now that your books are out in the world, the possibilities for lives positively affected are endless.”

Carla Shifflett, Waynesboro, Virginia


“We have received your donation of books for Mother of Civilization Library today. The books have already been checked and properly cataloged in the library and are now available for use by everyone. Your donation of books is a great addition to our library Program.

They will really help our people to gain more knowledge about internationally well-known philosopher’s contribution. They are great reference books that we can use. We hope that your generosity will be followed by many school, college and university students and alumni here in District Dadu Sindh.”

Rashid Anees Magsi, Project Manager, Mother Of Civilization Library. Sindh, Pakistan.


“I stumbled across your book in my search for ‘self help’ books at the local library. I felt stuck in a rut and was trying to gain a different perspective on things in my life. Your book was not only a wonderful resource for an overall attitude shift but truly helped me see my circumstances in a different light. I found myself reading phrases that were so insightful…I had to write them down for future reference. I’ve always been intrigued by philosophical perspectives on life but had lost touch with this after college. Am truly grateful to have found your book and loved your way of breaking it down into the ’10 ideas’. I honestly believe these are all essential concepts but until you brought them to the surface, likely wouldn’t have reflected on them in such depth. Thank you for sharing. :)”

Kristen Decker, Registered Dietitian, Iowa


“I would like to know if your book is going to be translated in Spanish any time soon? I have both of your books and I use them in my classes with children and with my group ‘Café Filosófico’ held in Tijuana every monday night… Thanks.”

Ruben R. Félix, San Diego, California / Tijuana, Mexico


“There is a line in the book Hurricane by James Hirsh that sometime you do not find a book, it finds you. Well, your wonderful book How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas that Matter Most found me and I hope it continues to land on the laps of others looking for the wisdom, inspiration, and wealth of resources contained in it. Each chapter lifts you up with straight-forward simple truth presented in flowing prose laced with gems from ancient and modern philosophers. While all the chapters are great, ‘Empathy,’ touched me deeply, especially your words: ‘Acts of empathy lift our burdens, shining new light on lusterless days. Though we parade about in different bodies, we all know salty tears, anxious hearts, drained spirits, and weary footsteps. Empathy acknowledges this sameness; while it requires a leap out of my life and exposes me to your pain, empathy fine-tunes my heartstrings.’ (page 134). This brilliant quote is a just a taste of the richness in the beautifully written treasure.”

Frank Riley, Chula Vista, California


“Thanks so much for a wonderful book. Even though I graduated with a degree in architecture many years ago, my open electives during college were always focused on philosophy (Man the State, Logic, Symbolic Logic, and many more). I believe it was the basis for a life of critical thinking (and being!) combined with meaningful feeling.

My mission now is to help transform the architectural profession to one that recaptures the essential history that it has created and extend the benefits of good design to us all. Like many of the topics in your book I believe it is essential that we acknowledge the benefits that good design has one us, our environment, and our futures.

Big thinking, like your book, is what we need.”

Steven Haber, Cincinnati, Ohio


“I just finished reading How Philosophy Can Save Your Life. I checked it out from my local library and was sad that I had to return it before I’d had time to finish. I checked it out the next day and truly enjoyed every minute reading your book seated at my kitchen table, my favorite spot. I have much to feel gratitude for when I sit there. I can hear wind chimes, and see blue sky, sunshine, and foothills. I can hear the laughter of my children in the next room. You might be able to tell my favorite chapter was Joy, with Empathy a close second. Your book sincerely spoke to me and my heart knows it as the truth. I search for words like yours constantly because I am very prone to getting caught up in the crazy busyness of being mom, wife, schoolteacher etc… I was thrilled to see that you have a book called Little Big Minds. I rarely pay for a book, (my friends endure my frugality 🙂 but I am sure I want to buy that one. Sometimes I am pretty hard on myself as a teacher. I see other teachers and am in awe of their skillfullness with the latest technology or their impressive statistics and graphs, but I know that my gifts are empathy and compassion. I feel so honored to be allowed to guide these seven and eight year olds as they discover how exciting education/school can be. I respect them and teach them to do the same for anyone they encounter, older or younger. I am so excited that I will be able to use Little Big Minds in my classroom. Thank you for such valuable books.

P.S. Another thing I rarely do is give books as gifts because I don’t want the recipient to feel obligated to read it, but in this case I can’t resist!”

Joan Hartigan, Thousand Oaks, California


“I was looking in the bookshop for some philosophy books for beginners, and I stumbled across your book. I began reading it this evening and after the first few chapters, I know it is going to be a fantastic book for many people. This is the perfect book for me at this stage of my life. I have been writing a journal in an attempt to find out about myself, and last night before I found your book, I finally found the truth of who I am after all these years. I am not happy with my discovery. I am so happy that I had the good fortune of stumbling onto your book. I certain it is going to help me resolve my personal issues. Thank you.”

Teck Low, Perth, Western Australia


“I come from Slovenia (Europe) and currently live and work as a translator and interpeter in Pittsburgh. … I just wanted to tell you that I enjoyed the book so much that I decided to translate it into Slovene as a Christmas present for my parents (they don’t know that yet, of course). It’s been hard: the book is written so beautifully that it made my project more than challenging, I’ve been working on it since April!) but I am now at the last chapter… can’t wait to share it! As a former South Slavic and American Studies student, I know how humanities are not appreciated outside university, considered to be ‘a waist of time’ just because their primary goal is not making money; so I think it’s wonderful how you showed that they can in fact change your life, save it even… and yeah, I’m a reader, and your book is so well-written, not to mention funny, it’s a pleasure to read… S hvaleznostjo! [With gratitude!]”

Stina Gorsic, Slovenia


“Congrats on the second book. I think of you often, have recommended your first book to so many teachers and students.”

Dr. Jill Gerard, Wilmington, North Carolina


“On my last day of summer vacation, as I tried to get myself into a positive mind set before heading back to an uncomfortable teaching situation, I packed up for a quiet day at the beach and took “How Philosophy Can Save Your Life” for a revisit. It helped get me in the right frame of mind and I just wanted to say THANKS! I met you last year in Marblehead… … I am off to buy another copy of your book for a friend that just might find in useful.”

Brenda Perroni, Marblehead, Massachusetts


“I picked up a copy of your book, How Philosophy Can Save Your Life, from Barnes & Noble, and I was very impressed with your devotion to bringing philosophy out of the ivory towers of academia to share with and enrich the broader community.”

Steve Donaldson, Charlottesville, Virginia


“So glad to find Marietta McCarty Books on Facebook! And to learn of the books! (Yes, I am out of touch.) My life was literally changed in the late 80’s by learning to appreciate philosophy and find a new way to think – courtesy of one Marietta McCarty… at PVCC. Those classes were inspired and fascinating and energizing.

I have been on Amazon this afternoon sending the book to friend’s daughter and others of her age in hopes they can share just some of what I did in that classroom. Truly one of my most meaningful educational experiences.

PLEASE continue to speak and teach…I really can’t tell you how stabilizing and world-widening it was for me… and it was not just the material… anyone can recite Nietzsche and Kant, but you gave them FIRE!!! I will never forget it. Our classes were combinations of burnouts, preppies, realtors, teens – you name it. And we were all SO passionate about that ONE hour of our day. It made us think, and it made us laugh, and it made us FEEL… and I don’t think anyone else could deliver that material like you.

Thank you, Marietta… for what you have shared and continue to share! :)”

Andy Dixon, Ohio


“As I roamed the library I saw your book. I passed it, turned around picked it up, put it down, spoke with a library friend of mine and suddenly found myself checking out your book and bringing it home. How did it get back into my hands I wondered. I’m in my 60’s, lived a good life so far, but am now wrestling with many regrets. As I read through your work I am trying to rediscover what I’ve accomplished and what is left for me to do.”

Patrick T. Reynolds, Kentucky


“Hi Marietta, I found your book at the library and checked it out. Wow, you really captured 10 ideas that can make our time here much better. Compliments for offering solutions to achieving the 10 ideas that the reader can take home with them. Best wishes.”

Alex Tkachuk, McMinnville, Oregon


“I am reading your new book How Philosophy Can Save Your Life and I found the book is so meaningful to me personally. I am in the complete agreement with you that we spend so much on non-essentials than what we do really need… and we need to disempower ourselves from those non-essentials in order to empower our self.

I am enjoying reading this book for its simplicity (in ideas and language) and it is written with complete sincerity and compassion.

I would like to congratulate you for producing such a wonderful work that enlighten millions of soul who are stuck in the self-constructed prison of conspicuous consumerism. It is truly an enlightening to read your book!”

Ahmad Uthman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


“I really enjoyed your new book. It seems so simple sometimes, especially when it is articulated so wonderfully, to really know what brings happiness and peace. But people do get lost along the way. I think your book will give a lot of people the courage to make the changes they need to find a better way to live. What a gift to give the world! … Meanwhile, take care, rock on, keep saving the world a little bit at a time. :)”

Kathryn Tone, Heidelberg, Germany


“Aloha, Just wanted to commend you on this fantastically written book. I find there are limitless exercises that I have begun utilizing with not only myself, but also as dialogue to encourage growth in my students and perhaps, most importantly to me, as a platform for my girlfriend and I to move beyond superficial levels of understanding and create opportunities for real/true/honest growth. Mahalo nui loa and I hope to at some point contribute thoughts and references to our social collective as elegantly as you have with this book.”

Sean Briel, High School Math Teacher, O’ahu, Hawai’i


“I bought and read your book. … It was a good approach to writing about the good life in a common way. I am glad you are promoting philosophy in this way in a society that both somewhat disdains and needs philosophy. It was very practical, and I will have to put some of it into practice.”

Jason Carr, Austin, Texas


“Who knew philosophy could be fun, accessible, poignant, illuminating, and helpful? In the past, boring, complex, and unattainable were some of the adjectives that came to mind whenever someone mentioned philosophy. That was before I read ‘How Philosophy Can Save Your Life’ (‘HPCSYL’) by Marietta McCarty. Today, when I hear the word philosophy I think: curiosity, discovery, community, happiness….

‘HPCSYL’ is an invitation to explore and celebrate valuable ideals. It is a cookbook of savory philosophy and thoughtful activities to help individuals cultivate a meaningful or ‘good life’. Enjoy it on your own, preferably from in a comfy seat with a choice beverage, then give one to friends and family. When it is shared with others, the book comes alive, growing from a personal treasure into an attractive starting point for valuable conversation and connection. …

‘HPCSYL’ walks the walk. It highlights the importance of community and belonging and becomes a great tool for connecting groups of people. Recently, we hosted a town-wide book group to discuss the first chapter of ‘HPCSYL’. Over thirty people gathered together at our local library to form one big philosophy circle. What a sight! Ultimately, we broke up into smaller circles and we will continue to meet biweekly, discussing each chapter’s topic. Local artists have jumped on board to show their ‘perspectives’ via their individual mediums. The ‘possibilities’ for enjoying this book and your own philosophical quest are endless.”

Rachel Gerny, Boston, Massachusetts


“Thank you for your wonderful book. For sure, the best book that I have personally read in many years. …

Over the years I have come to think and feel that forgiveness is pretty close to the #1 life skill. Every day gives us dozens of opportunities to forgive and to move on—not to get stuck, nor get other stuck, in the morass and vacuum of non-forgiveness.

So, I just wanted to share what for me is perhaps one of the 10 or maybe the list is 11.

In any case, merci encore for sharing your thoughtful, kind and caring insights and ideas.”

David Hawkins, New Brunswick, Canada


“Page 296: “Joy is a heart full and a mind purified by gratitude.”

That definition describes what I feel having read the prior 295 pages of your extraordinarily wonderful book. You model the way of the good life by being the writer you are. This is the first book of yours I’ve read; it won’t be the last! Thank You.”

Hugh Duffy, Basking Ridge, New Jersey


“I know your book will be a great success. By integrating so many aspects of the human experience into your work, you have shown the richness of a life well-lived. Anyone who reads this book should be ready for a great adventure!”

Allison Williams, Richmond, Virginia


“I read your book over the Christmas holidays. What a delight! It brought back memories of taking my first philosophy course at Davidson College many years ago. The examples, grouping of themes and exercises were helpful. I hated for the book to end. As a practicing positive psychologist and college professor I often recommend books to students and clients. Yours will be one of them.”

David E. Mullen, Ph.D. Sarasota, Florida


“Just in the nick of time, before holiday hysteria could grab me, I received your new book How Philosophy Can Save Your Life. For starters, the opening chapter on the concept of ‘Simplicity’ may just have saved me from ‘holidaze’ 2009.

‘Simplicity’ is the perfect antidote to shopping and busy-ness. It challenges my calendar and gives me permission to sit, think more clearly and cultivate simplicity in my own life.

The chapter makes me want to read more of the writings of Greek philosopher Epicurus, who championed simple pleasures and friendship, and contemporary philosopher Charlotte Joko Beck, whose Everyday Zen emphasizes life from the center of one’s being, not from external pulls as pressures.

When I finished reading chapter one, I wanted to do two things: 1) go listen to the music you listed in the ‘Homework’ section at the end and 2) go out and buy the book as holiday gifts for friends, so we could discuss the 10 ideas that matter most together!

Many thanks for providing a book that will last through the winter into spring.”

Kathy Hudson, Baltimore, Maryland