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The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work Hardcover – January 20, 2015

4.4 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“If you, like me, are a fan of a certain kind of self-improvement book—the kind, like The Happiness Project or 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think or Getting Things Done, that offers up strategies for making certain areas of life work better without requiring that you embrace a new belief system—then I have a new book for you . . . The Sweet Spot.”—KJ Dell’Antonia, The New York Times (Motherlode blog)
 
“With all the agonizing about ‘having it all,’ UC Berkeley sociologist Christine Carter, PhD, blows us a breath of fresh air with her five-step, common-sense primer The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work. Based on personal experiments with living life in what she calls the ‘pressure cooker,’ Dr. Carter offers advice in easily digestible nuggets.”Working Mother

“Carter gives actionable ways to balance your life, your health, and your career. This book is packed with smart advice and hard-earned wisdom.”Inc.

“Learn more about escaping the ‘busyness trap’ and uncovering a happier, less stressed you.”Shape
 
“A highly readable, diligently researched advice book that offers concrete tips on how to get off the treadmill of busyness.”Greater Good

“Carter’s transformation from overwhelmed working mom to productive and relaxed human being will inspire you. [The Sweet Spot] is chock-full of concrete tips on how to sharpen your focus, improve your efficiency, and use technology to your advantage.”The Week

“Carter translates her knowledge of the psychology and neuroscience of happiness into practical advice for navigating the demands of modern life.”Publishers Weekly

“Illuminates the simple and sustainable path toward a precious and happy balance.”—Deepak Chopra
 
“A gift, like a good friend drawing a personal road map out of the crazy busy swirl of our overloaded lives.”—Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed
 
“This book did something I thought was impossible: It seemed to give me more time.”—Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World
 
“A page-turning thriller full of proven ways to have the life you want.”—Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Hardwiring Happiness
 
“Timely, lively, and vital, The Sweet Spot is an immediately useful must-read.”—Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage
 
The Sweet Spot inspired me to make immediate changes that have increased my productivity and lowered my stress.”—Dan Mulhern, president, Granholm Mulhern Associates
 
“Refreshing, timely, and inspiring, The Sweet Spot will help you focus on what really matters most.”—Renée Peterson Trudeau, author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal
 
“The Sweet Spot is worth finding, and Christine Carter teaches us how.”—Lucy Danziger, co-author of The Nine Rooms of Happiness
 
“A must-read for every overworked executive, overwrought parent, or overscheduled human being.”—Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan, 2003–11
 
“Compelling and practical . . . You will learn exactly how to create a much sweeter life!”—Christiane Northrup, M.D.

About the Author

Christine Carter, Ph.D., is a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, an interdisciplinary research center that “translates” the study of happiness, resilience, and emotional intelligence for the public. The author of the bestselling Raising Happiness, Dr. Carter blogs regularly for Greater Good, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Dr. Oz Show, Rachael Ray, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Today, and NPR, and has helped thousands of people lead happier and more productive lives through her lectures and online classes. Her e-newsletters have more than fifty thousand subscribers. She lives with her husband, children, and stepchildren in Berkeley, California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; F First Edition edition (January 20, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553392042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553392043
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ladybug TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Length: 3:29 Mins
This is one of the best (and most realistic) books I've read about how to live a more balanced and content life--even in the midst of so much "busyness." There was a ton here that I found helpful, and I've already integrated some of Carter's suggestions into my daily routines. And I even saw positive results almost immediately--seriously! (Though I will say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I am a stay-at-home mom and writer, so I think I am THE target audience for this book, which may be part of the reason why it has worked so well for me.)

Sweet Spot is broken down into five sections. I have many favorite tid-bits from each part, but, for the sake of brevity, I'll just hit the highlights. Part One emphasizes the importance of focused work and rest times--specifically how important it is to experience good, quality chunks of both--and then goes on to offer very practical advice on how to increase the number and intensity of positive emotions you feel in your life. (On a side note, I was really skeptical that striking a pose like Wonder Woman for two minutes would actually make me feel more confident, but it did!)

Parts Two and Three were by far my favorites. Part Two discusses the importance of transforming as many recurring actions, tasks, chores, etc., into automatic habits. I learned what a workhorse my subconscious is, how surprisingly capable it is of pulling much more weight if I just take 30 seconds to create a new habit that it can then just roll with. (I found the "formula" of "After I do THIS, then I will do THAT" to be a very effective and simple way of creating a habit. So, for example, "After I put the baby down for his nap in the afternoon, I will write for two hours" was all it took.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is filled with ideas that can help readers find a sense of balance, flow and spontaneity through healthy attitudes and habits. Some of the subjects author Christine Carter addresses include creating satisfying routines that become self-sustaining, finding an optimal balance of what she refers to as strength and ease, getting rid of the compulsion to rush and overschedule oneself, setting sensible limits on use of technology, freeing oneself of clutter and excess, and giving real person to person relationships the attention and energy that they deserve. She discusses lots of related topics along the way: gratitude, giving, forgiving, and many more.

I really appreciate Carter's analysis of habit formation ("Doing without Trying" and "Cracking the Habit Code") and its 3 components: the trigger, the routine, and the reward. Though I had read about these elsewhere, I found Carter's presentation very clear and thorough, and her suggestions easy to implement. I love the idea of the "minimum effective dose" as a starting point for activities like exercise, etc. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of a large project. Carter gives us various ways to think small and just get going. She cites many studies that support these suggestions, and writes about her own fallback two minute "better than nothing" routine for the toughest days. Her suggestions are specific and yet can be molded in many ways to suit individual needs.

I also very much appreciate her ideas for regulating smartphone use and technology in general: making commitments to use smartphones in certain places and during certain times, turning off the various alarms that notify us of texts, calls, and emails, etc.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How much you will get out of this book strongly depends on how much other reading you have done about happiness, building healthy habits, and general human psychology. Dr. Carter spent years working at UC Berkley's Greater Good Science Center "translat[ing] the science of happiness, resilience, and emotional intelligence for the public". She's very familiar with the science and psychology of happiness-related research and, at times, the book can feel like a literature review as she references and provides brief reviews of tons of other people's research (and the books they subsequently wrote).

For example, if you watch a lot of TED talks or are interested in the science of thinking and emotion, you're likely already familiar with John Gottman (marriage researcher), strategic use of habit development to change your life/further your goals, and most of the other, related ideas that Carter suggests using to find your groove. Some readers will be more open and interested in her recommendations about meditation than others; if this is not something that interests you, some sections of the book will feel largely irrelevant.

The author has a personable, easy to read writing style and strikes a good balance between self-deprecation and professionalism (something many well intentioned authors do not). Her anecdotes and examples are concise and relevant, and the book is a relatively easy and enjoyable read. If you're not familiar with most of the subject matter, it would be a great introduction; if you are, it may or may not be welcome review.

Overall, I did not feel that the author broke any new ground. I also felt like her strong, organized framework deteriorated near the end.
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