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Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritorsby Thayer Cheatham Willis
Synopses & Reviews
One of modern society's firmest convictions is that money does, indeed, buy happiness — period, end of discussion. It's a global perception, the universal truth that wealth answers all our prayers, cures all our ills, rids all our fears, and allows us to live happily ever after. In her book, Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors (New Concord Press, 2003), Thayer Cheatham Willis takes this popular assumption to task, casting a revealing light on the sobering reality that financial wealth can, in fact, be detrimental to one's mental, moral, psychological, and emotional well-being.
A trained psychotherapist and an inheritor of wealth herself, she has written her book for those who know firsthand what the god of money demands of its worshipers and have come to the pivotal realization that they must chart a spiritual course through the emotional shoals of riches toward a meaningful, emotionally rewarding life.
As Mark O. Hatfield points out in his foreword to the book, readers "will appreciate more clearly the values of family, friendship, and community that ultimately can be measured in terms of great blessing, which is another kind of wealth. People who are inheritors of wealth will find guidance that will surely point to a more fulfilling life," adds the distinguished former Oregon senator.
Thayer Willis is uniquely qualified to offer counsel, instruction, encouragement and affirmation to the wealthy and nonwealthy alike, and she does it eloquently and compassionately in Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth. Her timely, valuable book is an insider's view of the privileged class, written by a child of wealth who channeled her hard-won triumphs over her own pain, confusion, and dysfunction into a dedicated career as a professional healer specializing in the treatment of psychological problems associated with affluence.
Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth could only have been written by someone who has experienced and broken through the isolation, debilitation, and despair of the intensely private, highly secretive society of the wealthy, which masks its conflict and pain exceedingly well. Her book is an important, valuable guide for inheritors but also an insightful, fascinating, revealing, and privileged read for everyone else as well. Ultimately, it is about life and people. It is about human struggle, achievement, triumph, redemption, and growth.
"Wealth, according to Willis, adds a layer of complexity and struggle to finding intimacy, developing trust, and finding good work. She is particularly effective in showing how an heir, while not having to work for money to survive, must nonetheless find ways to do something worthwhile, which often takes the form of a career in social service, arts or social action. Not needing money does not relieve people of the need to work, but it makes the choice of career both broader, and more difficult.
"This is a powerful book because it is deeply felt. Willis begins with her own experience, and frequently shares bits of her own difficult struggle. She seems to have earned her identity rather than stepped into it. It gives authority to her pronouncements, and makes us able to understand how she came to see the world as she does. This is a spiritual and moralistic book, not a book of sociology. Willis suggests that the journey an heir must take is a spiritual journey, and that the achievement of faith and embracing of a higher purpose is necessary to come to grips with wealth. While this book certainly fits on a Christian bookshelf, Willis takes pains not to be offensive or off-putting, and her citing of biblical sources struck me as no different from the use of Buddhist or Sufi stories to illustrate points. They illustrate universal, not sectarian truths about self-development. She understands that a spiritual journey can take many forms." Dennis T. Jaffe, Ph.D. Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco
"Despite the ominous title, the book is really about debunking the notion that being rich equals being happy, and validates the experience many inheritors have at situations like the party described above. If you are an inheritor, the parent of an inheritor, or someone who works with inheritors, you may want to consider checking out this book to learn more." More than Money e-zine
"As to emotional maturity, for example, Thayer noted that 'none of us ever walk willingly into the kinds of experiences that mature us, and inheritors often can avoid those experiences quite well for quite a long time. The consequence of that is delayed emotional maturity.' Another example is the feeling of being adrift when it comes to career. Take away the financial pressure to earn a living, and you may well take away the drive and resiliency necessary to build a successful career. When times get tough at work, sometimes an inheritor will bail rather than sticking it out. Other people...need that paycheck at the end of the month to pay the bills. But if you don't need that paycheck and your boss has offended you or has overlooked you for a promotion...you just might not pull it together to have the courage to hang in there. ..The spiritual challenge of wealth, she writes, establishes what life is about and what the wealthy person will or will not accomplish with their abundance." Robert Goldfield, The Business Journal, January 24, 2003
Includes bibliographical references (p. 187-190) and index.
About the Author
Thayer Cheatham Willis has earned a national reputation as an expert, caring presence in assisting people who are working through issues related to wealth. She has presented at numerous conferences including the 2002 NAPFA National Conference and the 2002 Capital Trust Symposium, and has given many workshops and seminars in connection with professional associations across the country.
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