When I am reading a book and am inspired by the author’s words and ideas, I want to remember all of their insights and pearls of wisdom. I highlight sentences and make notes in the margins and add sticky tabs to the pages. One indication of just how much I’ve enjoyed/benefited from a book is how many colored sticky tabs I have used by the end of the book.
Based on that assessment, it should be clear that I loved The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters (you can click on the image to enlarge).
Author/Architect Sarah Susanka takes the principles she first discussed in her best-selling The Not So Big House and applies them to the larger experience of life. The result is a terrific book which discusses how to live a rich, fulfilling, and authentic life.
Susanka calls for a shift in thinking about well, everything. For instance, when working on a project, she emphasizes that
Although it seems that the point lies in the successful completion of the project, in fact the only reason for doing it is to be fully engaged in the experience, so that we can learn more about who we truly are.
On the value of slowing down:
It’s the slowing down that allows the ineffable to seep in when we least expect it and that gives our life meaning.
I love her description of creativity:
There’s no separation between creativity and you. That’s why the vibrancy of another person’s creative act can inspire our own. It’s the state in which the object was made that is contagious.
Regarding our urge to accumulate things, she suggests that
Our love affair with stuff is a surrogate concocted by our heads to obscure the real longings of our hearts.
She then asks two compelling questions:
1. “When do we know we have enough?”
2. “What could we do with our lives if we weren’t so focused on acquiring more?
The second half of the book looks at the importance of being present, of really showing up to life.
Susanka describes the value of presence:
But presence is not something you decide to experience when you have time. Presence is. Presence is now, and now is eternal, without boundary. You have to show up, however, to really be here, to experience it.
She talks about the importance of mindfulness, and of establishing a daily time and place to be still (meditation).
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is the deft use of personal examples Susanka uses to illustrate her points. She also provides exercises at the end of each chapter to help the reader apply the principles to his or her own life. The book flows easily and has the quality of a conversation with a good friend. To learn more, you can visit her website.
I highly recommend this book and would love to hear your thoughts about this book or the ideas Susanka presents.