Book review: ‘Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World)’
“Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World).” By Chris Lowney. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2018. 122 Pages. Hardcover: $12.97; Kindle: $9.99; Nook: $10.49.
It might seem unlikely for someone who was once a managing director at J. P. Morgan & Company — on three continents, no less — to write a book on spirituality, but Chris Lowney is no ordinary managing director. Having spent time prior to his secular career as a Jesuit seminarian, he brings to his work St. Ignatius’ conviction that “God is in all things,” even those “things” which, at first glance, might seem quite removed from Him.
The first topic Lowney addresses in “Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World)” focuses on that word “matter.”
“Instead of thinking first about a career or financial goal, decide first what kind of person you want to become,” he begins. “Only when your vision of what ultimately matters is clear in your mind are you in a position to make good choices about career, lifestyle, and so on.” It is not surprising that in Lowney’s view what matters most is not money, power and getting ahead, but “how we live and relate to fellow humans.”
The balance of the book goes on to give advice on cultivating the habits that help a person reach those goals. We must first look to the example we are setting for others, he says, because, for good or ill, our actions do have an impact on the people and situations around us. “You may not think of yourself radiating Christ to those around you, but you’re radiating something all the time,” he notes, “kindness or meanness, curiosity or closed-mindedness, respect or disregard.”
He also urges readers to bring “big heart” to everything they do, even the small or seemingly inconsequential. While making the most of every opportunity that comes our way, we also need to concentrate more on what we contribute to the whole than on what we can achieve solely for ourselves. “Instead of trying to win the race,” he emphasizes, “why not make it your mission to contribute to the race, the human race — by making your corner of the world more just, more loving, and more happy.”
One way to do that, he says, is to find ways to do good for others. Another is to become conscious of the “inner demons” or unhealthy attachments we all have, in order to free ourselves to make decisions that reflect our true values. Then realize that, even though no one can change the whole world, each of us is called to do our part to influence, for good, whatever part of it to which we belong.
Persevere. Nothing worth accomplishing ever happens quickly or easily. Cultivate a grateful attitude and be sure to let others know how grateful you are for them and what they do. Take the Serenity Prayer to heart, accepting what you cannot change, changing what you can and becoming wise enough to tell the difference between the two. Bring everything you have to a hurting world that needs what you have to give.
Finally, Lowney introduces (or re-introduces) the reader to a quintessentially Jesuit way to keep track of it all, and that is the daily Examen, which incorporates much of what he outlines in the book. He recommends that readers form the habit of this exercise because “the Examen articulates … an ‘inside out’ approach to life whereby you decide what a meaningful life entails and become accountable to your own standards.”
Although this book would be of benefit to a wide range of readers, it would be especially appropriate for those who are just beginning their life’s journey. “Focus on the challenges and opportunities in front of you”, Lowney concludes, “and you will get there. By cultivating the right attitudes and habits, you will author more of your story than you imagine. … Make today matter.”
Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian, served as a managing director at J. P. Morgan & Co. and currently chairs the board of CHI, one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems.
Author of the best seller “Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads,” he speaks widely on the topic of leadership.
One hundred percent of Lowney’s proceeds from “Make Today Matter” will be donated to charities that support education for underprivileged communities.