Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review: The New Good Life

John Robbins set out, according to his subtitle, to tell us how to live better than ever in an age of less.  His life story plays heavily into his definition of better living and adds interest and understanding of Robbins' perspective and ideals.  By helping us understand our money type and explaining the steps of financial freedom Robbins sets us on the road to a new life.  He then helps us understand how our current life is less than best and what we can do to improve our lives according to his standards. 

Robbins calls for a return to a simpler time.  He is an advocate of all things green.  His book is a trumpet call for reducing our carbon footprint as a way to redefine what is  good.  According to Robbins, good is no longer defined by material possessions or means.  Good is defined by taking care of the environment and, as an extension, ourselves.  It's what we do not what we have that counts in this new good life.

Much of what Robbins says is common sense.  We do need to learn the difference between wants and needs.  Eating low on the food chain is a healthy choice.  Children are expensive.  However, his rationale for making change is not always so clear.  His choice of good assumes that everyone will be happier if they adopt his definition.  It also assumes that his personal choices are the good choices. 

I found the chapters on eating and cleaning to be the most helpful.  I've made some steps in those areas so affirmation and ideas for further progress were appreciated.  The chapter about children was the least helpful and was borderline offensive.  As with all self-help books, I'll take the good and move on.  I do agree with Robbins that, as a nation, our method of determining success by Gross National Product (GNP) is a misleading and dangerous standard of measurement.  Also, thanks to Mr. Robbins I'll be taking some time to learn more about Bhutan. 

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