I’ve Been Thinking

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I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life (2018) by award-winning journalist and producer Maria Shriver is a collection of uplifting vignettes and observations on faith, happiness, motherhood, and family. They are offered as prompts for introspection, particularly about finding meaning and purpose in life during turbulent times.

Shriver hails from a famously rich and civic-minded family. Her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was a younger sister of President John F. Kennedy. As a result of growing up surrounded by powerful and accomplished relatives, Shriver has spent her life seeking a personal calling. She longed to find her own place in the world, apart from the Kennedy family. In Shriver’s view, the personal quest she undertook is universal; every person has a special purpose in life, and every person has some gifts to share with others.

Shriver was raised in a family that taught her how to press forward in the wake of tragedy and loss. When stoicism didn’t work, she eventually learned the importance of slowing down to feel her emotions and grieve.

Shriver has undergone some challenging transitions, including a divorce and the difficult process of accepting that her children were growing up and living their own lives. To a certain extent, she has had to reclaim her sense of identity. Shriver believes that navigating difficult transitions is made easier by practicing gratitude and introspection, maintaining faith, and remembering to give back to others.

The key insights for “I’ve Been Thinking” book is:

  1. Accepting responsibility for decisions in life can result in greater self-confidence and autonomy.
  2. Focusing on the present moment can improve the most important parts of life, including interpersonal relationships and a sense of purpose.
  3. Internal fortitude helps people stay centered, no matter what is going on around them.
  4. Careful listening helps people see the common thread of humanity that connects every person, regardless of sex, race, culture, religion, or status.
  5. Incorporating prayer and meditation into daily routines helps cultivate a relationship with the divine and makes it easier to live with purpose.
  6. Seeking meaning is superior to seeking perfection.
  7. Mental health struggles are part of being human, not a sign of weakness.
  8. It’s vital to embrace the grieving process.
  9. Living an authentic life requires faith.
  10. Although it requires effort for most people, cultivating gratitude is an essential part of maintaining a positive outlook. It’s worth the effort.
  11. Time is a valuable resource that should not be taken for granted.

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