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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction by Justin Whitmel Earley

BOOK review
Started on: 1 March 2019
Finished on: 9 March 2019

Title: The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction
Author: Justin Whitmel Earley
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Pages: 204 pages / 193 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2019
Price: Rp 253,477 (

Rating: 4/5
*This e-book was received as a review copy from InterVarsity Press (IVP)
"As far as our habits go, the invisible reality is this: We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life."
Habits form us more than we form them. The modern world is a machine of a thousand invisible habits, forming us into anxious, busy, and depressed people. And the answer to our contemporary chaos is to practice a rule of life that aligns our habits to our beliefs. The Common Rule offers four daily and four weekly habits, designed to help us create new routines and transform frazzled days into lives of love for God and neighbor. Justin Whitmel Earley provides concrete, doable practices that will help us live more intentionally, which leads us to fulfilling our life purposes.

"I decided limits were a better way of life, and that's when everything changed. I had lived my whole life thinking that limits ruin freedom, when all along it's been the opposite: the right limits create freedom."

Since the start of this year, I've been really interested with the topic of habits—especially because so many of us (including me) are living on autopilot these days. When we live our day to day lives on autopilot, we might not realize what we spend our time on and what information we take in through all sorts of media that are surrounding us. I love how the writer, Justin Whitmel Earley, has experienced first-hand how busyness and always striving for more caused him to have severe anxiety. In this book, Justin Whitmel Earley introduced 8 "common rule" or habits (4 daily and 4 weekly) that will help us live intentionally and minimize the distractions that keeps us away from fulfilling our purpose. It is written in a very practical way which showed us the way to incorporate these habits into our daily lives. Even though I didn't really enjoy the writing style (because I think it's too textbook-like most of the time), I'm  still really eager to try and start doing some of these habits.
"Habits are how we stand up and get our hands on time. And because time is the currency of our purpose, habits are how we get our hands on our purpose."
"Let us see that habits shape the heart. Let us stop fearing that limits are a threat to our freedom. Let us see that the right limitations are the way to the good life. Let us build a trellis for love to grow on. Let us craft a common rule of life for our time, one that will unite our heads and our habits, growing us into the lovers of God and neighbor we were created to be."
In this review, I'm going to share some of the habits that I want to try out the most; especially because I think these habits are what I need to start living intentionally and get out of my autopilot mode. The first one is One Hour with Phone Off and Scripture Before Phone—they're actually two separate daily habits but I decided to combine them because they go hand in hand for me personally. Since the Screen Time feature was available on my phone, I religiously keep track of how much time I spend with my phone. At the start, I was shocked when I found out the amount of time I spent looking at my phone. After setting some limitations, I am now down to around 3-4 hours per day—and that's still a lot of time ๐Ÿ˜‚. The One Hour with Phone Off habit doesn't sound that difficult for me because there are a lot of time when I'm not using my phone; usually when I'm with other people or reading a book. But I think Scripture Before Phone is the challenging one for me, because right when I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I reached for is my phone—since that's where my alarm came from. In these chapters, the writer emphasized that smartphones fracture our presence: by working while on vacation, interrupting our dinner with news notifications, posting a conflict instead of talking to someone about it, and so many more. That's why the idea of having a time away from our phone makes us present and be available to the people who are actually with us. Besides that, the writer also encouraged us to start the day with scripture (reading the Bible) before using our phones. The idea is to fill our minds with the right things first, so that the rest of our day will go accordingly. Although it might be difficult to do, I think these habits are worth trying out ๐Ÿ˜Š.

The other habit that I'm going to try doing is Curate Media to Four Hours. The habits that are most relevant to me are related to smartphone and media, because these two seems to be overtaking my life these days ๐Ÿ˜‚. I stopped watching TV a few years ago and found my entertainment through Youtube videos. Last year I realized how much time I spent watching Youtube and decided to unsubscribe to several channels. Even though I think most of the videos that I watch now are informative and useful for me, this chapter in the book reminded me that it is important to resist the constant stream of addictive media with a time limit—which forced us to curate carefully what we watch.
"When the distractions fade away and the roar of silence begins, we're confronted with the question that haunts us: Who are we really, now that no one is looking?"
"This habit of curating media intake strikes at the heart impulse of the Common Rule. The good life doesn't come from the ability to choose anything and everything; the good life comes from the ability to choose good things by setting limits."
Overall, I enjoyed this book quite well and the purpose behind these common rule is really interesting. It has definitely encouraged me to live more purposefully and intentionally. I especially like how the writer ended this book, which is by talking about failure and beauty. Even though Justin Whitmel Earley wrote this book, he himself also experienced some failures while trying to apply these habits to his daily life. And he reminded us that it's okay to fail. Because to be able to live with purposeful habits takes one small step at a time. I also love how at the end of this book, the writer provided some adjustments to the common rule for all kinds of people: for small groups, skeptics, parents with busy lives, for the workplace, entrepreneurs, etc. It's a good way to motivate us so that we will not easily lose hope, because we can adjust these habits according to our needs.
"My best friend Steve and I used to talk about what it means to become great, and we thought it meant focusing on how you handle success. Then life broke us down—as it will anyone. Now we talk about how any life is characterized much more by its failures than its successes. We believe that a great life comes not by the way you avoid failure, but by the way you handle failure."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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