Books: Sharon Lipinski’s “365 Ways to Live Generously”, as reviewed by Amy Kellestine

This month’s book is for anyone who struggles to do what they know is good for them: exercise regularly, meditate daily, eat healthier, keep in touch with friends, or stay on top of the clutter of life.

Author Sharon Lipinski is a self proclaimed “Habit SuperHero” and certified corporate wellness specialist. She is also the founder of the nonprofit Change Gangs: Virtual Giving Circles (which pools donations from many people to make a bigger impact toward a specific cause). 365 Ways to Live Generously is her first offering to help readers transition from “I know what I need to do to make the change” to “I am making the change”. Since change takes more than education and good intentions, Lipinski has carefully curated and mapped out a year of actionable steps towards a more generous life.

The hefty tome clocks in at 460 pages. After a brief introduction outlining her inspiration and recommended usage of the book (there are 365 tasks or habits, so that you do a new task each day), she dives right into the daily content.

Each daily entry starts with a quote by people ranging from Stan Lee, Henry David Thoreau, and Aristotle to Theodore Roosevelt. Then there is a short explanation of research or context, and a practice. The practice could include anything from reflecting and writing in a journal about what you like about your mornings (Day 92), to taking a bold step like dancing with your fear (Day 322).

Each step fits into one of seven complementary categories (one for each day of the week): Physical Health, Mindfulness, Relationships, Connecting with Yourself, Gratitude, Simplicity, and Philanthropy. When each of these areas in your life is maintained, the author refers to the result as complete generosity. Essentially, complete generosity is looking after yourself and others so that you can all work to have an impact on systemic issues.

Some exercises are quite simple and wouldn’t take much longer than a few minutes to complete, such as mindfully brushing your teeth (Day 9) or calling a family member to let them know you were thinking of them (Day 249). Other tasks might take a bit more effort, such as finding your local blood bank and donating (Day 246) or meal planning and preparing food for an entire week (Day 131). Some may even stretch you out of your comfort zone, like identifying a social situation you’ve been avoiding and doing it anyway (Day 32) or reflecting on limiting beliefs that are holding you back (Day 138).

Additionally, there are monthly check-ins with twelve self-reflections and self-coaching questions. The author points out that these check-ins are not a “guilt-inducing exercise designed to shame you for all you haven’t accomplished yet. Instead, it’s a gentle reminder about what’s important to you and what you want to change.”

Overall, I really liked the approach of the book. I appreciated the thought that clearly went into the selection and ordering of each of the habits. I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the content and habits, but that is likely due to my choice to take the entire book in over a single weekend, rather than read it as the author recommended. I think the true test would be to try it day by day, over an entire year. Lipinski says, “Step by step. Action by action. Day by day. That’s how change happens. That’s how you create your best life.”

Who wants to try it with me?

Amy Kellestine headshotAmy Kellestine is an educator, engineer, Arati life coach and entrepreneur living in Edmonton, Alberta. She spends her free time camping, gardening, and volunteering for causes such as Cystic Fibrosis and nature conservation. She is a devoted mother and is passionate about helping others and writing.

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