(R)evolutionary | New Economy Advocate | Bridge-builder | Vision-holder for a More Beautiful World that Works for All
Since my life’s work has been an ongoing oscillation between research and practice in psychology as well as economics, this combination has strongly impacted my personal book choices. Socio-economic justice and finding new forms of energetic exchange feel like deeply spiritual pursuits to me.
Unraveling hidden knots of personal, intergenerational, and collective trauma that block our cultural evolution is essential to my ultimate dream of building healthy communities—a dream that keeps hope alive in me about the future. These inspiring books help point me – and hopefully you – towards ways that we can live into new possibilities for redefining wealth, well-being, and continue to push the limits of our consciousness. I hold firm to the belief that, together, we truly can co-create a more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
SUSAN BELCHAMBER has been oscillating between her research and practice in psychology and economics throughout her career: in the US government as an analyst and trade specialist, as an international consultant in the UK, as well as her work in therapeutic private practice and group facilitation. Susan’s current focus is on promoting positive personal and cultural change through unraveling the hidden knots of personal, collective, and intergenerational trauma, with specific focus on healing our relationship to money while envisioning new possibilities for well-being as we co-create a more beautiful world together.
My 10 Best
Anatomy of the Spirit
by Caroline Myss
This book introduced me to a whole new view of the world based on energy. Back in 1995, I was in the US (from the UK where I lived at the time) for a holiday with my toddler son and husband when a friend gifted me an audio copy of Caroline reading this powerful book. I was hooked right away! I remember grasping every moment I could to listen to it—like a kind of secret vice. Frankly, my spiritual consciousness had not yet been raised and this introduction to “the human energy field” and its relationship to our chakra system blew me away.
Caroline delivers her ideas with driving passion and deep conviction—something people tend to love or hate about her. I remain deeply appreciative of all her varied writings through the years.
The Spectrum of Consciousness
by Ken Wilber
This is a funny story! My son was still little when I decided to leave my international trade work and go back to my first academic love: psychology. Thus began my psychotherapeutic training at Regent’s College, London. Getting to north London was a trial from Wimbledon and I arrived late on the day everyone was choosing a book to present. As this was predominantly an Existential/Phenomenological training, Ken’s book was the only one left when I got there as nobody wanted to touch a book about Transpersonal Psychology with a barge pole! Little did I know it would change my life… I wound up writing my dissertation predominantly focused on Wilber’s work, especially using his huge tome Sex, Ecology and Spirituality. I wound up meeting Ken a few years later and this story gave him a laugh! His Integral 4-Quadrant work is revolutionary and remains one of my strongest influences.
Paths Beyond Ego
by Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughn
This book also changed my life in various ways. Roger and Frances write and edit these beautiful essays from many of the most important voices in the transpersonal psychology movement, “bringing together the marriage of psychology and science with the spiritual traditions.”
I remember how much these essays touched me, especially those by Roger himself as he shared his personal awakening. And in the back of the book, they shared a resource suggestion about Common Boundary, a non-profit they supported, which became an integral part of my life when I moved back to the Washington, DC area in a few years’ time. Roger and Frances also wrote a beautiful book Gifts from a Course in Miracles that I found deeply valuable.
by Don Edward Beck and Christopher Cowan
This incredibly useful overview of Spiral Dynamics is based on decades of research done by psychologist Clare Graves who developed a comprehensive model of bio-psychosocial human development. Beck and Cowan went on to flesh out how the psychology of human beings transitioned throughout time based upon an ever increasing set of complex life conditions. I was completely fascinated from the moment I discovered this theory and did multiple trainings with Don through the years. A number of us who gathered at an early SDi training in Virginia went on to form the greater Washington DC “Spiral Dynamics Hub” which has been meeting monthly for nearly 20 years! This theory was later incorporated into Integral Theory by Ken Wilber, although Don and Ken have never fully agreed on certain aspects. This has definitely been one of the guiding theories of my life.
New Money for a New World
by Bernard Lietaer and Stephen Belgin
Soon after moving back to the States and joining Common Boundary, I was introduced to the Newfield Network, a coaching organization founded by the wonderful Julio Olalla. This model of “ontological coaching” helped me ground and expand a way for me to bring spirituality into my psychological practice.
Besides being a great teacher himself, Julio had an amazing capacity to bring other cutting-edge teachers into our lives. This is how I met Bernard Lietaer, someone who continues to play an essential role as a thought leader in my life and work. Julio had invited Bernard to a Newfield alumni event and I remember spending hours listening to him, riveted by his views about “Yin and Yang currencies” as well as archetypes surrounding money. He generously gave me a galley edition of this book (originally titled Of Human Wealth: Beyond Greed & Scarcity) which I treasure and still use to this day.
The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self by Charles Eisenstein
This was the first of many of Charles’s books that changed my view of the world and of the impact separation has had on our lives.
I first met Charles in 2010 when I invited him to D.C. to help with an event for 10-10-10. He continued to come to D.C. many times over the years to give talks and even a weekend workshop at my home. We became friends, and I was one of the first readers of Sacred Economics, another book that has had a major impact on me and so many others. Charles had grown increasingly and deservedly famous by the time he authored perhaps my favorite of his books: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible with its outstanding series of essays on topics like Interbeing, Hope and Despair. It is probably the book I suggest most often for anyone wanting a deeper dive into Charles’ impressive thinking.
Presence by Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers
These four brilliant authors held an on-going conversation that turned into this beautiful book which asks, “How would the world change if we learned to access, individually and collectively, our deepest capacity to sense and shape the future?” Wow! How can you resist that? I certainly couldn’t and wound up studying with all four of the authors.
Peter has written many seminal books, and Joe authored a phenomenal book on Synchronicity (a topic near and dear to my heart). And, of course, Otto went on to write Theory U while founding the Presencing Institute which has been having an increasingly important impact throughout the world with the Labs it creates to “download the future.” I still attend as many of these offerings as I can manage.
Creating a World That Works for All
by Sharif M. Abdullah
As synchronicity would have it, I was reading this profound book when a dear friend came to visit and brought a second copy to me as a present. When I told her how much the book meant to me, she asked, “Would you like to meet him?” Of course I did!
Shariff (who added an extra “f” to his name along the way) and I hit it off right away. What a history this man has had, starting at age 15 as a Black rights activist and developing a profound way to support activist communities throughout the world ever since. His organization, Commonway, has an impressive series of offerings which have greatly helped me form my views about moving beyond a sense of “other.” Shariff decided to turn to fiction to share some of his astonishingly creative ideas about what the world might need to survive in the future, which he shares in The Chronicles of the Upheavals, a book I enjoyed helping to edit. Shariff has a mind like no one else I’ve ever met in his capacity to range from dystopian to utopian potentials in the future.
Does Altruism Exist?: Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others by David Sloan Wilson
This book was a fortuitous “accident” for me when it almost literally fell off a shelf into my life. Wilson, founder of the Evolution Institute, has written an important overview about the biological, psychological, and cultural reasons why collaborative groups do better than competitive ones. His research experiments on what he calls “Prosocial” efforts (referring to any attitude, behavior or institution oriented toward the welfare of others) have shown some quite stunning community outcomes. The bottom line is that “everyone thrives in a social environment that causes prosociality to win the Darwinian contest.”
As a research partner with the late Elinor Ostrom, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009, Ostrom and Wilson discovered that groups of people are capable of managing their own resources, but only if they possess eight specific design features. And this is a credible answer to the “tragedy of the commons.” As someone dedicated to finding ways for intentional communities to survive and thrive, this book made me literally weep with joy.
The Power of We: Awakening in the Relational Field by Thomas Hübl
Thomas Hübl (often spelled Huebl in English) has become one of my primary spiritual teachers ever since I learned of him seven years ago. I have worn out this CD set from Sounds True listening to it so often – it’s that profound. He talks about how to develop one’s own conscious evolution through practices such as transparent communication, attuning to subtle energy, and working through our shadow material.
Thomas does his best teaching in groups and I’ve been fortunate to be one of the inaugural graduates of the Pocket Project which has the mission of building healing awareness about personal, intergenerational, and collective trauma throughout the world. He has since written Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds and has hosted two massively attended Collective Trauma Summits in the past two years. This work is central for what I feel is necessary to move beyond the trauma that can imprison our capacity to make the changes we know we need in the world.