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The Secret of Shelter Island

by Alexander Green

Monday, June 15, 2009


A few years ago, a friend and I were hiking along the rim of the Grand Canyon when I spotted a hawk circling above us.


"Wow," I said, shading my eyes. "Imagine the view he has up there."


"Too bad he doesn't see it," my buddy replied.


"What do you mean?" I said. "Birds of prey have excellent vision."


"Yes," he said. "It's just that his eyes are focused like a laser on any movement - a rat, a snake, a jackrabbit - that could provide his next meal. He has the best view in the world. But he doesn't see it."


It was a bit of a shock to realize he was right. And to recognize how many of us wander through life the same way.


Head down and nose to the grindstone, we often miss the big picture. We're blind to the magnificent vista that surrounds us.


One of the reasons I began writing this column a year and a half ago was to share some of the ideas that enlarged my own perspective.


Along the way, we've become kindred spirits.


Readers often tell me these essays inspired them, motivated them, caused them to end a bad relationship, start a new career, forgive an old grudge, "enjoy every sandwich," or spend a moment considering their incredible good fortune, whatever their current financial status.


You sent me books, poems, photographs, speaking invitations and handwritten letters, some several pages long.


At investment conferences, I began receiving 10 comments about Spiritual Wealth for every one about my investment letters.


I was overwhelmed by the response. Not just emotionally, but physically. I received over 10,000 emails from readers in the first few months alone.


I can't tell you how much I enjoy reading your comments. (Even the cranky ones.)


Many of you asked why was I doing this? What was I trying to accomplish? Others were curious about my personal

Beliefs and background.


Unfortunately, my work, travel and family life made it impossible for me to respond to all these inquiries. This gnawed at me.


As you may know, my primary occupation is logging several thousand words of investment commentary each week. Spiritual Wealth is just a sideline.


Yet it bothered me that so many of you were trying to start a dialogue and weren't hearing back from me. Especially since your questions were sincere and thought provoking. They deserved an answer.


Several months ago it dawned on me that while it wasn't possible to respond to you all individually, I could respond to you collectively.


That's when I began writing The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters. And I'm excited to announce that the book is finally out this week.


What's it about?


My publisher John Wiley & Sons calls it "a profound and utterly modern commentary on timeless values, the search for meaning, and what it means to be truly wealthy."


Let me be more specific...


If you're like me, you're tired of hearing about wild-eyed terrorists, drug-addled celebrities, ethically-challenged businessmen and crooked politicians.


The national media delivers a daily dose of heartbreak, misery and cynicism. Much of what we watch and read each day is depressing, even rattling.


I wrote The Secret of Shelter Island as an antidote. It consists solely of ideas I've found particularly inspiring, elevating or ennobling.


I've arranged the book around four central themes. In the first section "A Rich Mind," I challenge readers to question their relationship with money, to consider what it is giving you, what it is costing you.


I also discuss the difference between getting rich and being rich. (The latter has nothing to do with your bank balance.)


The second section "What Matters Most," is about the importance of living an authentic life. It's about honoring and fighting for your highest potential, living the life you want, doing work you enjoy, paying attention to your highest goals and values.


The third section "Attitudes and Gratitude" is partly about appreciating your incredible good fortune that you're sitting here reading this at all. You have it better than 99% of your ancestors. (The average life expectancy in the United States in 1900, for example, was 47 years.)


I also talk about what I call "the psychology of optimal experience."


In the final section "The Search for Meaning," I discuss some of life's Big Questions and finally address what so many readers have asked: "Could you explain, briefly, what you mean when you use the word spiritual?"


My answer may surprise you.


I also take you behind the scenes here. The book gave me the opportunity to talk about how a confrontation with a reader in Phoenix inadvertently inspired the whole Spiritual Wealth project.


I also describe the firestorm I created at the publishing company when I first suggested this column.


Many of my colleagues were astonished, confused or skeptical. "Spiritual Wealth?" said one. "It's bad enough to talk about politics. But you're really stepping in it here."


Another insisted I was "fooling around with dynamite."


Fortunately, it hasn't worked out that way. Judging by your response - and several thousand testimonials - Spiritual Wealth has been a smashing success.


Along the way, many of you have told me how much you'd like to share these thoughts and ideas with your family, friends and business colleagues. The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters gives you that opportunity.


The book is now available at bookstores nationwide.


Amazon is currently offering it for 34% off the cover price. To pick up your copy, click here.


I do think this book is my best work, the best thing I've written.

And I wrote it expressly for you, the readers of Spiritual Wealth. I hope you enjoy it.


Carpe Diem,



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