Strategies for Joyful
& Effective Living


By Copthorne Macdonald

The original Hounslow Press edition of Getting a Life is now out of print. A new trade paperback edition was published in October 2001 by, and is now available through local book stores (via the book distributor Ingram) or view online purchase options.   

ISBN 0-595-20246-2     6" x 9"     $11.95 U.S. 

A KINDLE edition of the book is available from's Kindle Store.

Also available, for on-screen viewing, is theAcrobat eBook edition of Getting a Life. The searchable eBook (and the Acrobat Reader software) can both be downloaded free of charge from this site. To find out more, click on:

Getting a Life eBook

Excerpts from the book:

Table of Contents         Introduction         Chapter 1 --- Getting a Life

About Getting a Life:

This book is about crafting full, rich, creative, and enjoyable lives for ourselves — lives that are significant, lives that contribute in some way to the world around us.  Getting a Life is rooted in the idea that some steps toward wisdom require nothing more than a fresh look at common life situations, nothing more than an appreciation of the difference between skillful and unskillful ways of dealing with those situations.  Its premise is that a few truths about everyday life, if pointed out and taken seriously, can make a significant difference in the quality of day-to-day living and our enjoyment of life.

Getting a Life is about applied, practical wisdom — the kind of wisdom that Coleridge called “Common sense in an uncommon degree.”  To Copthorne Macdonald, wisdom comprises a mix of extraordinary attitudes, value-based ways of being, and ways of seeing. He takes the position that growing wiser is not something than must be left to the whims of fate; wisdom can be developed intentionally. Getting a Life reinforces our best intuitions and intentions, leads us to some fresh insights about everyday life, and helps us develop that uncommon degree of common sense that is practical wisdom. 

From reviews of Getting a Life:

Is Copthorne Macdonald a Renaissance Man, or a Millennium Man? Close on the heels of his Toward Wisdom: Finding Our Way to Inner Peace, Love & Happiness, this versatile electrical-engineer-turned-sage has come up with Getting a Life: Strategies for Joyful and Effective Living . . . . it is imbued with a nineties sensibility, some very good advice and a certain universality.

Atlantic Books Today

This book doesn't deal with the ethereal or intangible, it deals with using the path to wisdom — paying close attention to everything we do — and charting out a plan for our lives that could allow us to be the most that we can be.

The Guardian


Macdonald stresses his belief that wisdom and contentment develop incrementally. There are no quick fixes; like physical conditioning, mental and emotional health is a gradual process. More specifically, Macdonald recommends that people run "experiments" to determine which things give them pleasure in life, what skills they have and how best to use them. As he explains it, "What I am advocating is getting in touch with what's really important to us, and what our strengths are."

Part of this, he explains, is meeting our basic needs: physical health, security, belonging and self esteem. Once these needs are met, a person can experience a "meta-need — the desire to realize one's purpose and full potential, "a deep need for our lives to matter."

In his book and his life, Macdonald's primary goal is to promote the concept of wisdom in our culture. A cynic might invoke the old cliché that Cop's theories and a dime could buy us a cup of coffee (and not even that thanks to inflation), but Macdonald's reply is swift and emphatic: "Wisdom and a dime will get us the world we need."

 The Buzz

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