The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back Reviewed by David Fein

By December 9, 2021December 14th, 2021David Fein

At this time of year when there is so much emphasis on Christmas spoils, finding the perfect gift and knowing that Santa is getting ready to check his list twice, I find myself thinking about the book The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back. A story which inspired me to think about what I really need to make my life feel full and how much is enough.

We all work towards living our dreams for both ourselves and the people we love. This can involve accumulating things and striving to have ‘enough.’ This is all great, but at what point do we take stock of what we have and decide how much ‘stuff’ is enough?

Written in 2010 by Kevin Salwen and his teenage daughter Hannah, the book describes how the original idea came from the Salwen’s children who felt they had excess in the form of their 6,500-square-foot home in Ansley Park in midtown Atlanta, Georgia. Soon the mom and dad were on board and the Salwen’s decided they didn’t need such a large home for their 4-person family.

The book describes how they came to the decision to downgrade to a home that was half the size and half the value so they could donate half the proceeds ($850,000) to a worthy cause. They explain how they chose a charity that aligned with their values and how it affected lasting change. How they made it a reality and how their gesture of kindness not only changed the lives of the people they helped in Ghana but how it brought their family closer together.

Susan Salter Reynolds of the Los Angeles times wrote: “You feel lighter reading this book, as if the heavy weight of house and car and appliances, the need to collect these things to feel safe as a family, are lifted and replaced by something that makes much more sense.”

Kevin Salwen said, “We want our kids to be idealistic, but we also say, ‘Let’s not go too nuts here’. We’re not Mother Teresa. We’re not taking a vow of poverty or giving away half of everything we own. We gave away half of one thing, which happened to be our house. Everybody can give away half of one thing and put it to use. You’ll do a little bit of good for the world–and amazing things for your relationships.”

I encourage you to read the book and this ask yourself “how much is enough” for you? Giving away half of the value of your home isn’t something most of us will do but the Salwen’s message is simple, share anything you feel you have more than enough of. Maybe it’s time you could volunteer, a vast wardrobe you could thin down or expertise you could share and watch how it changes your life. Happy Holidays!

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