Discussion Questions for Shauna Niequist: Spread Too Thin
1. If ever there was a book for a pandemic, author Shauna Niequist’s Present over Perfect is it. Reflect on the speed of your treadmill during this weird and wild season. How present do you feel in your own life?
2. Both Kate and Shauna knew they were burning out when they lost the use of some pretty important capacities, like the ability to move one’s arms or feel one’s feelings. Have you ever hit the brick wall of burn out? What were the signs? Did you heed them?
3. Shauna largely ignored the signs in her own life until a mentor responded to an e-mail of hers with these words: “Stop right now. Remake your life from the inside out. And I will help you.” Where do those words land in your body?
4. There are a lot of stories we tell ourselves about what’s required of us. (“I’m a hard worker.”) And a lot of stories our culture tells about what’s required of the moment. (“Carpe diem!”) What story are you telling yourself about what constitutes “the good life” right now? Is that story particularly gendered or Christian? Does it matter?
5. “What if later is a myth I’ve constructed about a version of myself [that] maybe [I] just never intended on being?” Kate asks. What’s your relationship to the notion of later? What or who compels you to live here and now?
6. Getting off the busy drug is a hard sell. “You have to confront some very troubling things inside yourself,” Shauna admits. What do you know about achievement withdrawal?
7. For a lot of people—caregivers especially—slowing down feels like a luxury. But Shauna says self-care isn’t fancy. It’s remembering to breath between meetings. Sitting outside for four minutes. Calling a friend when you’re too tired to speak the truth you need. What kind of self-care feels doable to you in this moment?
8. Sometimes it’s easier to be the mood board that people want us to be rather than a human being with all our idiosyncrasies. When is the last time you felt most fully yourself—garbage parts and all? Who were you with? What were you doing? Can you experience more of that in your life?
9. Achievement can sometimes feel like the same thing as hope. But Shauna offers a reframe she learned from a friend. Instead of our to-do list being a measure of our worth it can be a reflection of our values. What are three of your deeply held values? Given those values, what small but sacred things can you do today to live well?
10. Shauna knows she’s at her healthiest when she is easily delighted by the playful and poetic gifts of life. Led by your soul and senses, where are you noticing delight now?
Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Kate & Shauna’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?