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What Matters Most

Living a More Considered Life
Narrated by: Jim Bond
Length: 7 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (141 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Why are we here? What is the meaning of existence? What truly matters the most in life? To even begin to answer these questions, we must start by exploring our own internal ideas, values, and beliefs.

Presenting the unique perspective of respected analyst and author James Hollis, Ph.D., What Matters Most helps listeners learn to appreciate (even be amazed by) events unfolding within, even as the external world creates constant struggles.

Taking a fresh look at the concept of happiness, Hollis uses a warm, accessible tone to encourage listeners to learn to tolerate ambiguity, embrace growth rather than security, respect the power of Eros, engage spiritual crises, and acknowledge the shadow of mortality.

Providing inspiring wisdom and personal reflections to address our deepest worries, What Matters Most yields far more than mere self-help clichés. Instead Hollis guides listeners in uncovering the heart of the matter, discovering what it means to truly live life to its fullest, most meaningful state - as fully engaged citizens of the world.

©2008 James Hollis, Ph.D. (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • EC
  • Reston, VA, United States
  • 10-27-09

Leaves Other Self-Help Books In the Dust

Far and away the best introduction to the role of the psyche, ego and unconsious in our lives. Bold, challenging ideas about how to make the most of what life offers. Hollis is eloqent, poetic even, lucid and extremely well organized. Bond is a perfect narrator. My only complaint: the final chapter of the book is completely omitted from the supposedly unabridged audiobook. I discovered this because, having so enjoyed the audiobook , I purchased the hardback to keep on my shelf of cherished, "read-again-and-again" volumes.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

James Hollis at his best

The man who help me find answers to my life's questions just wrote another masterpiece. Recommended for anyone past 40.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeremy
  • St Paul, MN, USA
  • 01-27-10

Full of brilliant quotes and insight.

I'm 23 and couldn't be happier to have found this book before i may really need it in old age. More than almost any other author, James Hollis has a way of making everything clear. Don't expect answers, but if you're looking for the right questions to be asking, this is the book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Walter
  • Shoreview, MN, United States
  • 12-16-13

Just short of five stars

Excellent exploration of the human psyche - both our personality and our soul. The concepts, ideas and stories provide great insight into life's struggles - and have, for me, been helpful in addressing some of the bigger questions in life.

Why just short of five stars? A work like this will always include some mystical notes. Mostly I am OK with that - but just occasionally I felt that the writing went a little too far in that direction, and it became a bit disorienting. At those moments it felt as though I had lost a sense of what the point was, almost like having a mild case of vertigo.

This is not a book for the conventionally-minded, and I recommend that if you are at all a fundamentalist (or are dependent on the certainties that much of what religion preaches), you should just skip it. He has a definite opinion of religious fundamentalism, and it's not a kind one.

Also, if you are wedded to the material values of mainstream culture, this book may not be for you - no kind words there, either.

But if you are willing to start with doubt about the easy answers that our culture provides, or you find that you've begun to doubt them, then this book may help you on your journey.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Who could resist a title like this?

James Hollis has become my wise guide in my personal journey of self-exploration, and his Jungian approach is a welcome change for me. I am still reading (or listening!) to this book, but I wanted to point out my conviction that it is dense with meaning and import, very much like Through a Dark Wood. I try to listen to it in small doses, interrupt my listening, and then reflect on what I have just heard, and then go on. It is not a book to whiz through or take lightly. It is a book that stimulates reflexion and self-examination.

Unfortunately it seems as if I am just at the beginning of this process, and there is so much that I don't know about myself; What Matters Most offers me some hope that I can make some progress in what I am beginning to regard as the most important work I may ever do in my life.

I am attracted to dream-work as a way of getting in touch with what is going on in "the basement" of myself, and Hollis's discussion of some of his patients' dreams shows what can be learned about oneself from dreams. It is a new endeavor for me, but I was reassured about the problem of the elusiveness of the dream's message by another audiobook: Clarissa Pinkola Estes's Beginner's Guide to Dream Interpretation, who says that a dream with an important message will recur until it has been received by the dreamer.

When I was much younger I bought Ann Faraday's Dream Power and The Dream Game (wish Audible had these available as audiobooks!) and spent some time writing down and interpreting my dreams by association, but I found that it was, although very revealing and important, anxiety-producing to a certain extent, and so I stopped it.

I am delighted now to have discovered audiobooks and to have the time to resume my progress on this important path of self-exploration, for which James Hollis has become an important counsellor.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great listen on Jungian psychology

I've been working with a Jungian therapist for close to two years now and have only recently begun to dive into some of the deeper stuff--alchemy, archetypes, etc. This book helped clarify a lot of the theory underlying that perspective with a witty and well-read tone. This is a great book for folks who have an inkling they might like Jung but aren't sure where to begin/have difficulty dealing with the density of existing translations.

Alternately this is not a great book for folks who don't generally like books, think therapy should be efficient/steeped in CBT, or who want a clear answer to the question of what matters. Speaking from my own experience as a person with a kind of recreational interest in the theory of philosophy I sometimes feel like contemporary theory of therapy ignores a lot of value from the histories of religion, literature, philosophy, and history itself. Hollis dispels the notion that that view of therapy is dead. The book is liberally seasoned with quotes from both Western and Eastern philosophical and literary traditions. If, alas, you feel like that viewpoint gets in the way this will not be a useful way of spending your listening time.

I started listening about a week before it became clear I would soon be losing my job and finished listening the following day. Hollis had a way of making this extraordinarily stressful event for myself and my family seem less like a challenge and more like an opportunity to better live my questions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Christine
  • Santa Clarita, US, Canada
  • 08-11-11

Insightful, but screams for editing.

If one has some background in Jung, Freud, psychoanalysis generally - there's helpful material here. I found the numerous quotations from other thinkers particularly interesting, and might purchase an e-edition to refer back to them more easily. But Dr. Hollis's style is so bloated and wordy it's hard to absorb the substance. Had the publisher reined in Dr. Hollis's enthusiasm for alliteration and adjectives, not to mention multi-multisyllabic words it would be a better book. Listening to alliterated phrase after alliterated phrase almost had me screaming in agony. A good dose of copyediting would have reduced the length of this book without reducing its substance. Then again, I might not have got as much weeding done as I did while listening.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Provocative, densely academic, and badly narrated

This isn't fluffy self-help by some TV celebrity. It's heavy, intellectual stuff, and at the same time energized and expressive. Not a relaxing read, but very rewarding. The mixed responses to this book are predictable: 5 stars from intellectuals who enjoy the unapologetic rigor that sets this book apart, and 1 star from folks who would be more comfortable with Oprah's latest.

Unfortunately, the narration is really mediocre. The text is delivered with the stoney, strong-jawed baritone of a news anchorman or a 1950's superhero ("The Incredible Mr. Monotone"). The guy's name is James Bond, and he seems to really roll with that. He reads the words strongly and clearly, tromping through the big words with charismatic pomp, and no apparent regard for their meaning or any human sentiment they might affect. It does the job, but sells the book short.


It's still well worth a listen... just a shame about the voicing.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Word Salad

Hard to get into. Difficult vocabulary. Feels more like a homework assignment than a joy read.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Find the Treasure of Your Own Truth and Treasure it!

I was introduced to the works of Dr.Hollis in a conversation with French and Austrian acquaintances (and artistic married couple) at my first and last attendance at a modern day "belle epoque" style salon soiree in my very first week after relocating to Geneva. Immediately purchased and read three of his books. I have now finish ed this for the third time in three years. Hollis is a master commentor on the "soul journey". This book is another gem of his in my personal library that I treasure greatly. Highly recommended!