This is a sweet and simple small book.
This book is a collection of the core beliefs that Leo has laid out on his blog over the years. I love his blog (Zen Habits) and his posts are always very clean and clear. The book is no different.
The basic concept of the book and the blog is that you should be paring your life down to a minimum to find happiness and improve your life.
There’s a certain inescapable logic to this concept. The main source of stress in many of our lives is being chronically overscheduled. If you have ten minutes to spare during the day, you probably do what I do and think, what can I be doing with this time? What to-do items can I cross off?
We’re always playing catch-up. Even when we’re ahead we feel behind.
If you follow his plan, which at its core involves cutting back on your commitments to allow you to focus on what really matters, you should find that you have more time, less stress, and are able to get more things done.
One of the things he specifically calls out is something I have struggled with for years and only now am starting to change. I am always impatient about my personal growth and my changes and I want everything fixed right now.
For example, I’m starting a new diet plan as recommended by my doctor (Sugar Busters, FYI) and the old Cecile would have tried to implement all the changes at once and that would have inevitably led to crisis and suffering. The new Cecile is making one change a week. It may take 6 weeks to make all the changes and have the diet completely switched over to the new version of eating, but it’s likely to stick and I’m less likely to suffer in the process.
This is the process he advocates for making change in your life. Focus on one habit at a time, and the smallest possible iteration of that habit. If you think you can commit to 30 minutes of exercise a day, commit to ten minutes. If, like me, you think, pshaw, I can totally eat like that all day, maybe instead just change out your breakfasts for a while and see how you do.
He spends the first few chapters laying out the theory of minimalism and how it can apply to your life and then the rest of the book is a chapter by chapter guide to addressing specific areas of your life that may need to be altered for optimal peace and performance in your life.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help, this book and/or his blog are a good place to look for help.
Side note: I was reading a library copy and at some point he wrote the phrase “honing in” which is, of course, a perfectly accurate phrase. And someone had the chutzpah to take a PEN, not a pencil, but a permanent pen, and cross out “honing” and write in “homing.” I cannot imagine the confidence required to make that change in a library copy of a book without even looking up the word you’re crossing out to see if maybe you just don’t know that word. Amazing.