I've read several books that talk about slowing down, but many are honestly just lame. They talk a lot of theory and make excellent points, but they make it hard to put into practice. John Busacker's new book, Fully Engaged: How to DO Less and BE More, attempts to tackle the issue of overburdened American lives.
Most of the underlying principles he discusses are honestly nothing new; I've heard them many a time and have told my clients and families about them frequently. However, his presentation is different. At the end of each chapter, which are easy reads, he includes some exercises. These are not the cheesy, artificially-created application questions or strained spiritual disciplines that so often appear in contemporary self-help books. Rather, they are non-time-consuming questions, reflections, or actual activities to help the reader self-reflect.
Ultimately, I think this is the strength of Busacker's work and what is often missing in most dialogue about busyness, stillness, and connecting with God. He asks the reader to look in themselves and see what's stopping them from being able to slow down. As a psychologist, I think this is vitally important, as we often try to simply replace one thing with another without exploring why we don't want the replacement in the first place.
At the same time, we do need to replace the maladaptive portions of our lives with something positive. I appreciated how Busacker focused on our values and living congruently from them. Much of the exercises and reflections are oriented in such a way to help the reader explore his or her values.
I tend to pride myself on knowing my values and living from them. But there was something in the way Busacker presented this material (I can't put my finger on it) that hit deeper. While I do think I have a clearer sense of meaning and purpose than many in modern society and live from that purpose to a great extent than a lot of people, I'm still greatly lacking. This is true specifically in my "down time," or more accurately, my inability to let myself have a down time.
The way Busacker reminded me of my values and the priorities of each of them really helped me slow down this weekend. I allowed myself to rest, which is something I greatly needed. Busacker's conceptualization of a fully engaged life, contrasted with "life worth" is particularly helpful. It does not discount the role of work and achievement, but puts them in their proper place:
Leading a fully engaged life begins with a multi-coordinate focus on your life worth—a realization that
Relationships matter more than anything.
Health determines your quality of life.
Work gives voice to your giftedness.
Hobbies engage your energy beyond work.
Learning animates your imagination.
And Faith gives all of your life purpose. (p.36)
What do you need to do to be fully engaged in life? What does full engagement mean?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”