The Next Right Thing Book Summary - The Next Right Thing Book explained in key points
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The Next Right Thing summary

Emily P. Freeman

A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions

4.1 (130 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman is a guide to making decisions with clarity, especially in times of uncertainty. It offers practical advice and reflections, encouraging readers to quiet the noise around them and listen to their inner voice.

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    The Next Right Thing
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    Doing the next right thing is about shifting your focus from outcomes to the present moment.

    Around her fortieth birthday, author Emily Freeman realized that she wanted to go to grad school. It wasn’t that she needed it to further her career, or even that something was lacking in her life. In fact, she had a job she loved and a family that she loved spending time with. She just thought that it would help her delve deeper into her journey of spiritual growth alongside like-minded people.

    Still, that didn’t feel like a legitimate answer to the oft-asked question of why she wanted to go to school. Though it was possible for her to take time off work, and her husband was supportive of the idea, the potential outcomes of the decision plagued her for weeks. If she were to enroll, she feared that the commitment would take a toll on her time with her family. But if she didn’t do the course, wouldn’t she regret it?

    Chances are, if you’ve ever had to make a difficult decision, you were similarly focused on the outcome. But what if there were another way to approach decision making?

    What if, instead of trying to control the future, you just tried to do the next right thing?

    Versions of this advice have been preached by everyone from Martin Luther King Jr. to Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s also a practice that can be observed in the actions of Jesus Christ.

    Think about when Jesus raises Jairus’s daughter from the dead in the Gospels. We might expect Jesus to deliver a sermon about how Jairus and his wife should kneel at the foot of God for the miracle, or about what the daughter’s life now has in store. Instead, he tells them to cook her lunch. This simple task was Jairus’s next right thing.

    That might seem like a banal request from the son of God, but it holds an important lesson – namely, that we should be focused on the present moment. Instead of agonizing over mapping out our futures, we would be better off living our lives one next right thing at a time.

    In the end, Freeman’s next right thing was to enroll in the grad program. Though she never found the clear-cut explanation for her decision that she had been seeking, she knew it was an opportunity both to grow into a fuller version of herself and to bring her closer to her faith.

    Your next right thing will likely look different than your neighbor’s. The following blinks will suggest some practices that might help you find yours.

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    Key ideas in The Next Right Thing

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    What is The Next Right Thing about?

    The Next Right Thing (2019) takes a fresh look at common decision-making wisdom. Drawing upon personal anecdotes as well as stories from the Bible, these blinks offer soulful advice to guide you through decision fatigue or chronic hesitation so that you can find your next right thing.

    Best quote from The Next Right Thing

    The decision is rarely the point. The point is you becoming more fully yourself in the presence of God.

    —Emily P. Freeman
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    Who should read The Next Right Thing?

    • Christians interested in finding spiritual guidance
    • Recent graduates or people going through a time of transition
    • Ditherers looking to become more decisive

    About the Author

    Emily P. Freeman is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling books Simply Tuesday (2015) and A Million Little Ways (2013). Her podcast The Next Right Thing aims to enrich her listeners’ personal and spiritual lives.

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