Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Next Right Thing - Book Review

Decision fatigue.  Who hasn't felt it?  Should I move or should I stay?  Is it the right time to start my own business?  Can I afford to take a leap of faith (or not to)?  Is it too risky to quit my job to write the book that is begging to be written?  Will I be able to come up with the money to achieve my dream?

Given that the typical adult is said to make about 35,000 decisions per day, we should be tired!  How can we know the right thing to do?  What if our decision options appear to be equally good?  Or, what if we have to decide between two equally bad choices?

In Emily P. Freeman's new book, The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions, we are provided with the kind of prompts, reflections, and reassurances that take much of the stress out of our daily decision wrangling.  For those of us who have always sweated it out like there is that one best decision we must find before acting, Freeman's approach to breaking it down and doing the one next right thing is a huge relief.

This is a book that works well as part of an ongoing reflective practice.  Instead of a decision list of pros and cons, we learn to approach things more organically.  We are reminded that we are making a life and that we learn to make good decisions by actually practicing making decisions.  And, gasp, not every decision has to be perfect.  Why, we can even offer ourselves grace for having made a bad decision in the past.

Freeman shares stories about her own experiences making both major and minor decisions.  Each chapter provides an example, which then leads to a reflective exercise, and finally offers up a prayer.  Though written from a Christian perspective, there is a universal benefit to approaching life one next right thing at a time.

What kind of impact can reading a book like this have in a life?  Well, for one thing, instead of resenting all of the decisions pressing down on me today, I feel gratitude that I have so many choices.  I think of all of the individuals in the world who live in regimes where nearly all of the decisions are made for them.  It is a privilege, and blessing, to be able to choose—to have free will.

Another benefit of this read for me was the focus on having an uncluttered soul.  I am providing my soul with more space to breathe these days.  Without this space, it is almost impossible to experience the serenity of a life built one right thing at a time.  Right things need breathing room.  When we pause to oxygenate our souls, we can more easily fall into a peaceful rhythm where right things become a natural way of being.

We can live a life where unmade decisions hold all of the power, or we can choose to harness that power for good.  For too long I allowed difficult decisions to hold a certain tyrannical force over my days.  They drained the energy I could have been using in creative, more fulfilling ways.  For anyone facing important decisions, or wanting to breathe more easily when choosing among the competing priorities of the day, reading The Next Right Thing may just provide the needed soul space where peace can lead the way.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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12 comments:

  1. Wow! If I think about 35,000 decisions per day, I find I am already tired. I love the suggestion of focusing on the positive knowledge that we have a choice, instead of stressing over having to make a choice. I can see this book would require me to assess the way I make decisions. I am that pro/con list maker. That method has served me well. Often my worst decisions have been those that I made spontaneously. I think I could embrace the "one right thing at a time" philosophy. No doubt, I could benefit by reading this book and applying the suggestions to my own way of thinking. Less stress and taking time to breathe is always a good thing!

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    1. There is nothing wrong with a pro and con list, especially since it works so well for you. However, Emily (the author) found that once in a while her pro/con list was a bit deceiving when making a decision. There may be six cons and only one pro, but the one pro holds way more value in terms of what matters most in her life. One has to take that into consideration--the weight of each pro and con. I'm sure you do. Sometimes, in the course of a hectic day, we don't have time to assess the pros and cons of each decision. That is when the next right thing is especially helpful to consider. I am with you: anything we can do to reduce stress is always a good thing for our overall wellbeing.

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  2. This really speaks to me. I tend toward “analysis paralysis” when trying to make important decisions and have to keep reminding myself that there is rarely one “right” decision...and that we can only make decisions in the context of today, because we never know what tomorrow might bring. Change is inevitable, and change usually presents new decisions to make. Even though I understand these things intellectually, it can be hard to internalize them emotionally. This sounds like a book worth reading and re-reading periodically.

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    1. I hear you, my Kindred Spirit. As a deeply analytical perfectionist, I can get incredibly mired in analysis paralysis. There just has to be a perfect decision, or solution, and I am out to find it! One of the things I loved about the author's take on this was her insight that most decisions aren't really about the decision at all. The more important thing is who we become in the process. It has a lot to do with character-building. And you are so right about the context of our decisions. We can relax in doing the next right thing in this moment (given what we know and given what is available to us right now). It is always a balance between head and heart.

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  3. Sounds like a book that would benefit anyone from Corporate Management right down to a retired senior citizen living alone. We all have to face decisions throughout our life ~ big and small ~ and sometimes they appear to be overwhelming. It looks like The Next Right Thing would be a very helpful book.

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    1. We sometimes take decisions for granted (and our capacity for making so many decisions over the course of a day and a lifetime). Just imagine the magnitude of 35,000 decisions/day x 365 days/year x approximately 80+ years of living. Anything we read that contributes to being less than overwhelmed by the weight of all of those decisions is so valuable. The book is already helping me get the right things decided and done. My investment of $1.99 for this Kindle book was money well spent.

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  4. I think this book is one I should put on the top of my reading list. Decisions can sometimes handcuff me into non-action. That usually has unwanted effects. Time to break that battle down and see how to overcome those moments when you are just too tired to make good decisions.

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    1. Many of us can relate. I am much more decisive at work than I am in my personal life. I'm in a season of life where I need to make a lot of major decisions and it is really wearing on me. I'm feeling much more relaxed about some of these decisions after reading The Next Right Thing. It's taken some of the pressure off and given me a whole new perspective on what decisions are and how I can approach them in a different way.

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  5. Ordering today :), as a family facing a major life altering decision, and analyzing and over analyzing the pro/con list, the value of each pro/con/neutral factor I suspect could be enhanced by this perspective. Thanks for a timely review!

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  6. I wish you well as you find your way to the next right thing for your family. I hope this book is a meaningful part of your journey to a decision that aligns with what matters most to you and your loved ones. Let me know what you think after you read The Next Right Thing. Lots of people are really positive about the author's podcast, too. You may wish to check it out. I plan to take a listen.

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  7. Yes, have to agree with working towards an uncluttered soul. Practice makes perfect with everything, including the mind. After reading your review here, I really want to read this book.

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    1. When the soul is uncluttered, everything becomes clearer. I need to be mindful of this every day. The reflections in this book help me remember, and to practice, soul space.

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