Book Review
Title: "The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of ‘Enough’ "
Author: Julia Cameron and Emma Lively
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin, 2012; 240 pages; $25.95

I read a lot of books — over 200 just in the last three years. I bring up that number by way of pointing out the scope and significance of this statement: one of my top 10 favorite books of my entire lifetime is "The Artist’s Way."

It might sound artsy-you-know-whatsy, but since its 1992 publication this masterwork has served over 3 million artists and others who need to be — or simply want to be — creative, with its powerful tools and insights for getting and staying unblocked.

While it has served that role in my own life in my work as a writer and creator of digital content, "The Artist’s Way" has been at least equally as impactful in my entrepreneurial, personal, financial, and career endeavors. The ability to think flexibly and innovatively in crafting original solutions to problems has been of great, great value (and has probably saved my bacon more than a few times).

But I have long thought of my personal non-artistic uses of the book as rogue, or off-label, specifically when it comes to matters of finance and business. "The Artist’s Way" was intended for artists, after all — it’s not called the "Businesswoman’s Way" or the "Money Maven’s Way."

So imagine my delight and surprise to learn that the creator of "The Artists’ Way," Julia Cameron, was releasing a title on that topic nearest and dearest to my heart: prosperity. In her new book, "The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of ‘Enough’ " (Tarcher Penguin, 2011),Cameron and co-author Emma Lively aim to first reset readers’ understanding of prosperity as a spiritual matter, not a monetary one.

They carve out a new definition of prosperity as having faith, satisfaction and "enough" — "having a life beyond need and worry." Financial healing, they make sure to point out, is included, but is only one element of true prosperity.

After dealing with definitions, Cameron and Lively provide a set of five tools to help readers generate this expanded sense of prosperity. The first two, dubbed "Morning Pages" (three pages written longhand, stream of consciousness, first thing every morning) and "Walking" (literally, taking a 20-minute walk two or more times a week) are tools used in "The Artist’s Way" to unleash creative flow.

In "The Prosperous Heart," Cameron slightly repositions them as tools for cultivating emotional and financial clarity, especially when it comes to understanding where your values and your actions are not in alignment, and healing that disconnect.

The next two tools are much more financial in nature, but are still uber-simple: "Counting" (tracking every dollar and cent that flows in or out of your hands and accounts) and "Abstinence" (refraining from creating new debt, with exceptions for car and home loans that are affordable vis-a-vis your monthly income).

The last tool, "Time-Outs," are like micro-meditations —  5-minute a.m. and p.m. quiet times that we can use as check-ins with ourselves, our feelings and our choices (about finances or otherwise) or to pray, meditate, or otherwise get "in touch with a deeper, kinder, wiser part of ourselves."

Beyond their utility for their intended purposes, all the tools can also be used to help detect where the bulk of your own personal challenges in the prosperity realm may lie. The more resistance you feel to the idea of practicing any given tool, the authors say, the more valuable that tool will be in creating the prosperity you seek.

(This mirrors precisely the lesson I learned long ago from an old yogi from India, who brusquely overruled my protests that I’d been too tired to come to class one evening by declaring that the times when I most feel like staying at home are the times I stand to gain the most by coming to class and practicing, anyway. How true that has proven to be in the years since. When I’m too tired to worry about whether I’ll be able to balance on one foot, I’ve found that it is much easier to do so.)

After introducing readers to these tools and making the case for incorporating them into our daily routines, Cameron and Lively provide a 12-week course in prosperity, touching on everything from:

  • inventorying and examining your spending habits, money fears, relationships and past losses;
  • trusting in a higher power and in yourself to provide for your wants and needs; and
  • practicing kindness, forgiveness and velocity: the authors’ term for not too little and not too much action.

If spiritual matters or references, of even a nonspecific, nondenominational nature, tend to frustrate or offend you, "The Prosperous Heart" might not be for you. One of its core premises is that a higher power exists that wants to and will provide for you.

While the authors carve out an extremely broad realm of how individual readers might conceive of that spiritual force, some might find that to be a turnoff.

If, on the other hand, you do believe that some sort of higher power does exist in the universe, and you have been plagued by money problems or worries, have experienced hard times, or simply crave to feel at ease and abundant in the financial realm of your life, it would be a serious strategic error to omit "The Prosperous Heart" from your library.

It should sit side by side on your bookshelf or in your e-book reader with other authoritative titles about organizing, saving and investing your money.

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