Present Over Perfect – Book Review

Over one month ago, I randomly chose an audiobook to listen to on a solo drive.  I chose Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as I am not familiar with the author, but it was amazing!  It spoke to me on so many levels. Shauna narrated the audiobook, and every sentence she spoke was full of insight, poetry, and inspiration.  With each thing she said, I would think about how I needed to remember this quote for later. I decided to buy a hardcover copy of the book just so that I could read through it again and underline my favorite lines.

The foreword was written by Brené Brown.  If you are not familiar with her work on self-compassion, it is a very important reminder to be compassionate towards oneself.  The full title of this work is Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.  Shauna chronicles her journey from overworked and stressed to a life concentrating on the things that are most important to her – family, God, friends, and fun.  I always strive to live a balanced life, and I’m no stranger to the idea of self-care. So I was primed to like this book, but Shauna’s voice and language were so inspirational to me.

Life is short. Life is about balance. It is about spending time on the things that are important to you and that you enjoy. It does not need to be about accomplishing great things. The things we accomplish are already great in God’s eyes. This is definitely a Christian book, and she talks a great deal about her relationship with Jesus.

Prayer and silence are an important component of living a present life. I am always wishing for more opportunities for silence. I am definitely an introvert and need quiet times of reflection. I can feel overwhelmed by too many people and even family life at times. Shauna writes about nature and how it can provide us that silence and connect us to God through His creation. I am trying to spend more time outdoors, even if it is just in my backyard, looking up at the sky.

Another popular theme in the book is how we have authority over our own lives. As a school counselor, I am constantly reminding my students to focus on the things that they can control, rather than the things they cannot. Shauna states, “We decide where the time goes. There’s so much freedom in that, and so much responsibility.” We don’t have to do the things that society expects of us, as long as we are doing the things that God expects of us.

This book also relates to my personal quest for minimalism. I am on a personal quest to own less stuff, so that I can spend my time and money on experiences that bring me joy. This is quite a challenging road to go down, but I’m taking small steps. I try to Marie Kondo my house, with some success, to pare it down to the things that “spark joy.”

So if you couldn’t already tell, I highly recommend this book. I came across it by chance, but was drawn in by the author’s voice. I will be checking out her other works soon. If you are drawn to the idea of a simple life, I highly recommend that you read Present Over Perfect.

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