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Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life Hardcover – May 10, 2012

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In Emotional Chaos to Clarity, Philip Moffitt maps out a path for opening and expanding our sense of what is possible, what we are capable of, what will bring us true happiness. He also shows us step-by-step how to apply acceptance, kindness, awareness, and compassion in order to make those aspirations come to life. To move from emotional chaos to clarity is not a minor journey, but it is possible, and for any one of us, it can be real. -- Sharon Salzberg author of Lovingkindness and The Power of Meditation Emotional Chaos to Clarity is a masterwork. Be inspired by the possibilities it opens. Be strengthened by the guidance it offers in decision making. Be surprised by the illumination that comes when you contrast your ideals with your actual days. And be encouraged in the midst of your life challenges by the power and love that comes when you see and live by your highest intentions. -- Jack Kornfield, PhD author of The Wise Heart and A Path With Heart Phillip Moffitt takes the profound insights of the wisdom traditions and translates them into simple and effective steps to stable inner strength, happiness, and peace. His unique gift is his own deep grounding in what it really takes to be fully engaged with life while remaining clear-headed and happy. An extraordinary book. -- Rick Hanson, PhD author of Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom Phillip Moffitt presents a clear path to living an authentic and intentional life. He has a profound understanding of how emotions distort our perceptions and how we can create new, healthy habits of mind. -- Dean Ornish, M.D. author of The Spectrum Building on a history of finding his way out of a meaningless, albeit successful, worldly life into a life of service, Phillip Moffitt has crafted a highly practical handbook for navigating the inevitable challenges that beset us. A marvelous tools to have handy when our better knowing is overwhelmed by those often mysterious interior storms, this book communicates a desperately needed feeling that we can indeed succeed in shaping lives of meaning. -- Don Hanlon Johnson, PhD author, Everyday Hopes, Utopian Dreams: Reflections on American Ideals Self-help books are ten a penny but Emotional Chaos to Clairty by Phillip Moffitt is the exception to the rule. It explains how emotional chaos comes from a reactive mind (which causes anxiety, anger, worry and insecurity) and gives practical advice on how to achieve a clear mind. Woman's Way --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Formerly owner and editor in chief of Esquire magazine, PHILLIP MOFFITT is founder and director of the Life Balance Institute, a nationally renowned meditation teacher, and co-guiding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Northern California. He is also the author of Dancing with Life. Visit and


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press; 1st Printing edition (May 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594630925
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630927
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 1987 Phillip Moffitt walked away from his highly successful post as chief executive and editor-in-chief of "Esquire" magazine to focus on his inner life. After leaving "Esquire," Phillip spent most of his time studying Theravada Buddhism and practicing vipassana (insight meditation). He also became interested in the mind-body connection and studied yoga, Jungian psychology, aikido, and somatic healing techniques. After he had been practicing vipassana for seven years, Phillip was invited by Jack Kornfield, the founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center, to participate in Spirit Rock's three-year teacher training. In 1998 after completing his teacher training, Phillip established the Marin Sangha in San Rafael, Calif. In addition to teaching the Marin Sangha, Phillip travels throughout the U.S. and Canada leading silent meditation retreats and is co-guiding teacher at Spirit Rock. Phillip's primary teachers are Ajahn Sumedho and Sri Swami Balyogi Premvarni.

Between 1999 and 2006, Phillip wrote a regular column for "Yoga Journal" called "Dharma Wisdom." And in 2008 he published his first book about living the dharma in daily life, "Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering."

In addition to devoting himself to teaching the dharma, Phillip also does what he calls "Life Balance" work, a process he developed for helping others find more meaning and a greater sense of well-being in their lives. In 1991 he founded the Life Balance Institute (

You can access Phillip's teachings at

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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By cheryl cebula on May 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"When you're able to relate to life just as it is, rather than insisting that it be the way you would have it, you stand a far better change of affecting how things are, because you're not caught in emotional chaos."

Phillip Moffitt's tightly written Emotional Chaos to Clarity introduces many of the concepts we associate with the search for a purposeful, intentional, and satisfying life. The similarity to other discussions ends there. His radical and refreshing perspective is useful to anyone seeking freedom from reactivity and an enhanced capacity to make choices that reflect what matters most.

The book is divided into three parts that progressively chart a course for increasing clarity and choosing the path of an intentional life. To elucidate his ideas Moffitt offers many helpful examples from his work with coaching clients, meditation students and his professional life. Each chapter ends with rich inquiry and reflections, assessment questions, application suggestions and meditations.

Integrating ideas from Buddhist psychology, Moffitt builds the case that we confuse who we are with the fleeting and impermanent thoughts, emotions, and impulses we experience and then respond in ways which bring dissatisfaction, suffering and emotional chaos to our lives. In what may seem counter-intuitive to some, he spends several chapters positing `who you are not,' discusses the tyranny of expectations and the importance of starting over. And rather than encouraging ways of increasing effort and pushing toward goals, he advocates for relaxing the attention and softening into one's experience. His discussion of the relationship between priorities, goals and expectations will likely both challenge and delight.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Kacena on May 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Phillip Moffitt's book Emotional Chaos to Clarity is such a treasure for anyone interested in living a skillful life.

For me personally, Phillip's discussion of intention and how to integrate intentions into your life is the most powerful concept covered and is integrated throughout. He brings clarity to the meaning of intention by comparing intentions to goals and through discussing core values. He says, "Intention is the capacity to stay in touch with what is of prime importance to you, from moment to moment, in your daily life."

I have been drawn to Phillip as a teacher for many years because of his ability to make spiritual principles accessible. In this book he does this by using understandable descriptions and real life examples from his many students and clients. He also includes exercises at the end of each chapter to help deepen your understanding of the material covered.

He often sheds light on a subject by comparing seemingly closely related ideas as in intentions/goals, expectations/possibilities, experience /interpretation that really allows insight.

Phillip is also very skilled at taking subjects that you think you know all about like gratitude, priorities, compassion, and generosity and beautifully exploring them from many different angles so that your understanding deepens. For instance, a young woman who is dearly loved by the community was recently diagnosed with a life threatening illness. The community organized benefits to raise money to help her with medical expenses. I was reminded in Phillip's book that the receiving end of generosity can be difficult. I shared with her the following quote from him, "Being willing to receive graciously is another form of generosity.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Stan Leopard on May 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I work as best I can with 3 distinct intentions for my life:

To Survive-take care of the necessities for myself and our family, including shelter, food, health-care, etc.

To be Free-have choices in life such as whom I work with, where I live, how I spend my one precious lifetime

To Life a Good Life-be satisfied with my life moment to moment, and be able to authentically declare facing death that I am satisfied

This book offers Phillip Moffit's culmination of various wisdom practices he has learned, embodied, developed and taught for the past 17 years. Emotional Chaos to Clarity begins with an explanation of why intention and mindfulness are fundamental to having a greater sense of well-being in one's life. The book then leads the reader through a series of practices to develop clarity. Next, the book shows how the practices can support developing skillful behaviors. The final section contains practices for uprooting the causes of chaos in one's life.

A couple of examples where I have accessed Moffit's work to improve my life:

For most of my life I have been "driven", thinking I was ambitious. Writing on the violence we perpetrate against ourselves, Moffit says:

"Most people perpetrate this violence against themselves by mistakenly identifying with various thoughts that arise due to impersonal conditions. The body and mind's well-being are the innocent victims. Each individual has a unique pattern of self-violence that results in their life being more full of emotional or physical harm than it need be. For example, if you identify yourself as someone who gets things done, you may inflict self-violence through over-scheduling yourself and taking on excess responsibility.
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