The Sweet Spot, by Christine Carter, is one of the best (and most realistic) books I’ve read about how to live a more balanced and content life–even in the midst of so much “busyness.” There was a ton here that I found helpful, and I’ve already integrated some of Carter’s suggestions into my daily routines. I even saw positive results almost immediately–seriously! (Though I will say, in the interest of full disclaimer, that I am a stay-at-home mom and writer, so I think I am THE target audience for this book, which may be part of the reason why it has worked so well for me.)
Sweet Spot is broken down into five sections. I have many favorite tid-bits from each part, but, for the sake of brevity, I’ll just hit the highlights. Part One emphasizes the importance of focused work and rest times–specifically how important it is to experience good, quality chunks of both–and then goes on to offer very practical advice on how to increase the number and intensity of positive emotions you feel in your life. (On a side note, I was really skeptical that striking a pose like Wonder Woman for two minutes would actually make me feel more confident, but it did.)
Parts Two and Three were by far my favorites. Part Two discusses the importance of transforming as many recurring actions, tasks, chores, etc., into automatic habits. I learned what a workhorse my subconscious is, how surprisingly capable it is of pulling much more weight if I just take 30 seconds to create a new habit that it can then just roll with. (I found the “formula” of “After I do THIS, then I will do THAT” to be a very effective and simple way of creating a habit. So, for example, “After I put the baby down for his nap in the afternoon, I will write for two hours” was all it took. It’s simple–and maybe embarrassingly obvious–but it worked for me.)
I also put Carter’s advice on reaching goals into action almost immediately and planned out a better morning routine for myself and my kids. And thanks in part to Part Three, which talks about knowing your top five priorities and then spending 95% of your time on ONLY those things, I have been able to create a daily routine that feels meaningful and realistic–and, therefore, actually doable–to me.
Part Four discusses the importance of cultivating relationships, how good relationships–whether with lifelong friends or barely-met acquaintances–have the power to make us feel content, safe, comforted, and connected.
Part Five is all about how to deal with uncomfortable feelings, such as when we feel discouraged, afraid, overwhelmed, or lost.
At the end of each chapter is a short section called “The Easiest Thing,” where Carter suggests one incredibly simple way to translate her ideas into action. She dumbs it way down so even a child could perform these tasks, but, somehow, I don’t walk away feeling condescended to; I actually feel proud of myself for accomplishing something.
Ultimately, I absolutely loved this book start to finish. It was so relevant to my life, so practical and genuinely helpful. And because Carter references an impressive selection of books in Sweet Spot (including some of my recent favorites like: Mind Over Medicine, Overwhelmed, a journal publication by John Gottman [but I like Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work], Outliers, Thrive, and Triumphs of Experience), I now have a few more happiness- and wellness-related books lined up in my to-be-read queue, including: The Talent Code, Stumbling on Happiness, and The Martha Beck Collection. I can’t wait to keep reading!