The Not So Big Life Journey

Education, Mental Fitness, Motivational

The Not So Big Life

It’s a regrettable thing to have to begin a post with an apology, but that fate falls upon my keyboard this morning. A while back – okay, several months, I admit it – I was sent a great book by its publishers (Thank you, thank you, thank you again!). Whenever I’m sent a book or products to review for one of my blogs or sites, I pride myself on getting it done right away. 9 times out of 10, we’re talking a day or two. However, books can take a little longer. Especially if there’s a lot of great information to process, which was the case with “The Not So Big Life,” by Sarah Susanka.

I’m truly sorry that this review wasn’t posted sooner – but that’s what you get for publishing such a thought-provoking, life-affecting book like this one! What’d you expect? This isn’t just a book, after all, it’s an education. And no education that I know of can be completed in mere months. None worth having anyway!

Actually, it’s a two-part education. The MAJOR is in an area I already knew I loved with a consuming passion: Self Help. The MINOR is in an area that I never really thought much about – the fascinating world of architecture.

A Little Background

The author, Sarah Susanka, is an architect as well as a writer. She’s the author of the bestselling book, “The Not So Big House.” In TNSBH, she gives her expert advice on making homes BETTER, not BIGGER. Guess what philosophy she brings to “The Not So Big LIFE” – right, how to make our lives BETTER, not BIGGER. Brilliant? Brilliant.

From the inside cover:

Most of us have lives that are as cluttered with unwanted obligations as our attics are cluttered with things. The bigger-is-better idea that triggered the explosion of McMansions has spilled over to give us McLives. For many of us, our ability to find the time to do what we want to do has come to a grinding halt. Now we barely have time to take a breath before making the next call on our cell phone, while at the same time messaging someone else on our blackberry. Our schedules are chaotic and overcommited, leaving us so stressed that we are numb, yet we wonder why we cannot fall asleep at night.

Wow, does that sound familiar or what? We’ve become somewhat like hamsters running around in a wheel….gotta get there, gotta get there, gotta get there. Problem is that there keeps moving.

In a very, very entertaining manner and with an extremely well-written style, Sarah Susanka details the similarities of designing a home and designing a life. Thought provoking? Try thought propelling, thought arousing, and thought awakening.

From Chapter 1, “Blueprint For a New Way of Living” to Chapter 12, “Being at Home in Your Life,” I was challenged to look at every nook and cranny of my life – upstairs and downstairs, inside and out. Exhausting and invigorating at the same time! The reader is led on a tour of their own life, to examine everything from their foundation to their present structure. You’re shown how to find cracks in your foundation and how to mend them. Your structure (or life) will only be as firm as your foundation.

Another problem with writing a book review for such an amazing book is that if I told you everything I wanted to tell you, two things would happen:

  1. The post would be so long, I’m not sure anyone would even attempt to read it.
  2. I’d give away everything and you wouldn’t have any need to buy the book!

I don’t want 1 or 2 to happen, so I’m trying to keep from giving away too much. Personally, I’d do just about anything to make sure each and every one of you bought this book journey. It’s that important.

One of the things that makes “The Not So Big Life” so special – and the main reason this particular Self Help Enthusiast is telling you, “If you buy two books this year, make one of them The Not So Big Life and the other one Dean Koontz (pick one)” – is this: There isn’t an author or so-called “expert” telling you what your weaknesses or strengths are. YOU determine them. A so-called “expert” isn’t giving you a ridiculous one-size-fits-all solution or advice – YOU come up with what’s best for you. With clear guidance and tons of real-life examples, your given the map…but the journey? It’s yours.

If you ask me, that’s the whole key to self help anyway. That’s why it’s Self Help rather than Somebody Help. It’s also the only way we’ll ever grow.

The chapters of “The Not So Big Life” deal (in beautiful depth) with the following components of Self Growth and, in turn, a “better” life:

  1. Developing a Blueprint for a Better Way of Living
  2. Noticing What Inspires You
  3. Identifying What Isn’t Working
  4. Removing the Clutter
  5. Listening to Your Dreams
  6. Learning to See Through the Obstacles
  7. Improving the Quality of What You Have
  8. Creating a Place and a Time of Your Own
  9. Proceeding Through the Construction Process
  10. Moving Into Your Not So Big Life
  11. Maintaining Your Newly Remodeled Live

The Not So Big Life Notebook

Readers are encouraged to create a notebook and use it as they read the book. I bought a nifty purple on and did just that. While it slowed down the review, it proved to be unbelievably rewarding. It wasn’t long before I realized that I was doing more than just interacting with a book. My purple notebook wasn’t just a compilation of reflections and notes – it was a blueprint for an even more rewarding life.

It never ceases to amaze me how insidious our conditioning is. I’m conditioned to be always too busy. For you it might be something else, something that seems equally real and equally frustrating. Just like the fish that doesn’t realize it’s surrounded by water because it’s in it constantly, our conditioning is so much a part of our experience that we forget it’s there and fall into the idea that the outer world is conspiring to keep us from doing what we want to do, when in fact our obstacles are self-generated.

Great stuff! This is the most timely book one could hope for. It gets us right where we live and shines the spotlight on all the right places. Use the link to the right or scour your local bookstore….just be sure you read this book.

When I was thinking of a closing sentence to sum everything up – a closing sentence to compel you to buy this book – I kept coming back to the same thing. I’d toy with things like: “Instead of going to Applebee’s this weekend, do something that’ll impact your life even more than their garlic potatoes…” – but then I realized how much I love Applebees, and how much I want some of those very potatoes. Then I thought…beg! Yeah, that’ll work. But I always came back to the same phrase – so that’s what I’ll go with.

This is the book you were meant to read.

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2 comments… add one
  • Crystal

    Hi there,

    I am currently reading the book (at chapter 8) and am also an enthusiast (especially since I recently renovated a house using several of Sarah Susanka’s “Not so Big House” books as inspiration. What isn’t working for me is the notebook. I separated my book into the sections that she suggests in the first (or was it second?) chapter, and the sections just don’t seem to match with the exercises. How did that work for you?

  • I like this post’s, and the book’s, emphasis on taking responsibility for creating the “obligations” we have in life. Too often, we fall into the trap of thinking about our activities in life as “obligations” to relieve ourselves of the responsibility of constantly reevaluating our lives and the choices we’ve made. We say things to ourselves like “I’ve got to have this career, this car, this intimate partner,” and so forth, and forget that we’re the only people who can decide what we “have to have.” The harder, but more rewarding, path is to acknowledge that we’ve created our lives as they are today, and can do so going forward.

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