“The Sweet Spot”: Christine Carter Helps You Get There

What is “The Sweet Spot” that sociologist Dr. Christine Carter, who’s called herself “a chronic overachiever and a recovering perfectionist” (Shape.com), believes we can find?

Her new book, subtitled How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work tells us it’s “where you have the greatest strength, but also the greatest ease.” It’s “about shifting the small gears, the ones that rotate relatively easily. And because all the gears are interlocking, when we tweak a small gear here, the large gears start to move—effortlessly—as well.”

It’s also how the author herself went from a lifestyle of “overwhelmed and exhausting to joyful, relaxed, and productive.”

According to Lou Fancher, Lamorinda Weekly, Carter’s view is that the most important question one can ask oneself may be, What elephant are you riding on?

…As in the part of Jonathan Haidt‘s The Happiness Hypothesis (see my previous post) in which he explains the universal condition of “the divided self” by using a Buddhist metaphor of the rider and the elephant.

From a summary of this concept on his website: “The mind is divided in many ways, but the division that really matters is between conscious/reasoned processes and automatic/implicit processes. These two parts are like a rider on the back of an elephant. The rider’s inability to control the elephant by force explains many puzzles about our mental life, particularly why we have such trouble with weakness of will. Learning how to train the elephant is the secret of self-improvement.”

Carter’s suggestions for training the elephant include taking more breaks, being more attuned to which daily routines can be put “on autopilot,” engaging in “satisficing” (stopping at “good enough”), focusing on the positive, and saying yes only when you really want to.

Mirel Ketchiff, Shape, asked Carter, What’s the smallest step someone can take that will have the biggest impact on their daily happiness and stress levels? “I’d say to establish a ‘better-than-nothing’ exercise plan that takes less than five minutes to do, for days when you can’t make it to the gym. Mine is 25 squats, 20 push-ups, and a one-minute plank; it takes me three minutes, but it works…And once a day, think of something or something you’re thankful for. Research shows gratitude is the foundation for personal happiness.”

Below Carter introduces The Sweet Spot:

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