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"Live each day to the fullest" is good advice, but can be hard to follow. Here are practical ideas on how to focus on the things that really matter in your relationships with others.

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The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living

The Four Things That Matter Most

A Book About Living

By Ira Byock
Publication date: March, 2004
ISBN: 0743249097 (hard cover)


Four simple phrases -- "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you" -- carry enormous power. In many ways, they contain the most powerful words in our language. These four phrases provide us with a clear path to emotional wellness; they guide us through the thickets of interpersonal difficulties to a conscious way of living that is full of integrity and grace.

In The Four Things That Matter Most, Dr. Ira Byock, an international leader in palliative care, teaches us how to practice these life-affirming words in our day-to-day lives. Too often we assume that the people we love really know we love them. Dr. Byock reveals the value of stating the obvious and provides insights into how we burden ourselves by hanging on to old grudges unconsciously and unnecessarily. He shows us how to avoid living with those awkward silences and uncomfortable issues that distance us from the people we love and erode our sense of well-being and joy. His insights and stories help us to forgive, appreciate, love, and celebrate one another more fully.

"The Four Things" is a collection of stories of people using expressions of forgiveness, gratitude and love as a way to mend, tend and nurture relationships. Distilled from experiences of people who were forced by serious illness to face the impending end of their relationships, these stories convey practical wisdom that can help any person at any time say and do the things that really matter most in their own life.

The inspiring stories demonstrate the usefulness of the Four Things in a wide range of life situations. They also show that a degree of emotional healing is always possible and that we can experience a sense of wholeness even in the wake of family strife, personal tragedy, divorce, or in the face of death. With practical wisdom and spiritual punch, The Four Things That Matter Most gives us the language and guidance to honor and experience what really matters most in our lives every day.

Why would a hospice physician write a book about living? Byock says "As a physician, the experiences of people who say these four things have forced me to suspend my disbelief and realize that healing can occur in many situations that I would have once thought impossible. Why wait until we or someone we love is dying to say the things that matter most? It would be great if this nugget of 'hospice wisdom' became part of public discourse and part of our culture. I hope these stories will allow people to imagine that healing is possible and will help them recapture joy."

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