Phillip Moffitt’s life is right out of that classic story in which a financially successful man — one who seemingly has it all — realizes he needs something more.
He realizes there’s something deeper, something more meaningful to life.
At the height of his career, Moffitt was CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Esquire magazine. However, Moffitt was not satisfied. So he traded his traditional successful life for a shot at inner peace. He took up mindfulness meditation and changed his life.
Today, he is a meditation teacher and co-guiding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. In his newest book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life, Moffitt takes what he has learned firsthand and shares those teachings in a readable and thoroughly enjoyable way.
Moffitt was 34 years old when he began to focus full-time on personal growth. He had enjoyed great success, but his life “seemed out of balance. I felt as though I wasn’t living from my authentic self. Even though my external life was fun and stimulating, my internal experience was that of not being connected to a larger purpose.”
One of the main themes of Emotional Chaos to Clarity — and a prime reason why it is so appealing — is that while Moffitt is a teacher now, he wasn’t always one. He has a story. He took a path. Moffitt is not some guru born on the side of a Nepalese mountain, unaware of the day-to-day “realities” of Western culture. In this way, his story feels more “true” in a way that is sorely lacking from much of the spiritually-tinged self-help field.
Furthermore, because of his unique backstory, Moffitt’s appeal is immense. Anyone who has felt a gaping hole in his being can relate to his story.
Moffitt’s a skilled writer. There is no flowery language painting an abstract portrait of the secret to life. He writes cleanly and directly. However, he still thoroughly conveys his message. He strikes the perfect balance.
Moffitt’s teachings revolve around two central ideas: Mindfulness and intention. He writes:
The combined skills of mindfulness and intention described in this book represent an approach to transforming life’s many challenges into opportunities for growth. This approach constitutes the foundation for a more authentic relationship with yourself and others. As you apply these life skills you will feel more grounded and oriented in your life. My purpose in writing this book is to assist you in this process of learning how to live more skillfully.
As might be expected with a book with such heavy subject matter, Emotional Chaos to Clarity should not be viewed as a quick read. Each chapter should be studied, and, both literally and figuratively, meditated upon. At the end of each chapter, Moffitt provides an exercise or some closing wisdom. Because the book demands work on the reader’s part, it’s perhaps best to read about a chapter a day or so. Mindfulness is a skill. It is one that must be cultivated. To rush through a book like this essentially defeats its purpose.
Moffitt’s ultimate goal is to eliminate or lessen what he calls “the emotional chaos of the untrained mind.” Our minds are constantly racing in a state of turmoil. We make plans and they fall through. We react and we often react poorly. What Moffitt would like us to do is to not perceive ourselves as having to react, but rather choosing how to respond. This slight adjustment in perception can make a world of difference.
Emotional Chaos to Clarity is a wonderful contribution to the self-help field. It is one that deserves to stand out and be recognized. Moffitt’s messages are universal, while the manner in which he conveys them is poignant, proper and downright perfect.
Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life
By Phillip Moffitt
Hudson Street Press: May 10, 2012
Hardcover, 270 pages