We live in a time where unfortunately, the concept of hustle culture has become dogma in our society. This mentality suggests that if we’re not always pushing and optimizing for better, utilizing every second of the day to get more done, we’ll never reach where we want to go—constantly falling short of our own ambiguous, unreachable bar. What you’re not told is that this non-stop hustling is served with a side of burnout, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, and sometimes even depression. We have this societal pressure to constantly feel ‘on’—having no life-work balance is seen as rewarding when really, it robs us of the ability to enjoy anything not labelled as ‘work’. Quite simply put: it’s toxic.
If/when we finally arrive at the arbitrary destination or achievement we set for ourselves, we’re sometimes left with a feeling of emptiness or numbness—an uncomfortable feeling and insatiable void that needs to be topped up with either more money, more likes, praises, comments, and other forms external validation. This problem is one that most of us in the western world can relate to and is the basis of Brad Stulberg’s new book The Practice of Groundedness. Stulberg coined the term heroic individualism as an “ongoing game of one-upmanship, against both yourself and others, paired with the limiting belief that measurable achievement is the only arbiter of success.”
In The Practice of Groundedness, Brad Stulbgerg brings us back to our proverbial roots and reminds us of the principles and practices that lay the groundwork for us to build long term fulfillment and happiness. He deduces that success is a byproduct of the compounding of consistent daily practices over long periods of time.
His book lays out how to avoid “chronically [feeling] like you never quite reach the finish line that is lasting fulfillment.” Paradoxically, Stulberg argues, it’s this obsession with outward achievement and external forms of success that will leave us internally unfulfilled.
To preface this review, I want to first mention that Brad Stulberg is one of my favourite authors and bloggers on the “science of success” and performance. Co-created with Steve Magness, The Growth Equation (formally known as Peak Performance) is a popular blog and podcast on “the art, science, and practice of success.” I devour their content (blog posts, podcasts, and suggested reading in their newsletter) and am currently a member of their Patreon community: where I have access to exclusive content, early access to their podcast, and a monthly book club.
While there is so much trite advice or BS out there when it comes to performance, Brad’s work cuts through the noise. His unique voice, up-to-date research, conversational prose, and willingness to intertwine personal anecdotes (and vulnerability) into his writing, makes Brad one of the most approachable and relatable writers on the topic of performance.
With that being said, I was beyond excited when it was announced that Brad would be releasing his third book and first that he authored solo (the first two Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox co-written with the very talented Steve Magness), The Practice of Groundedness.
Based on the caliber of Brad’s work I’m used to consuming on the regular, I had high expectations going into his latest read. Let me just say this: I wasn’t disappointed. Let me sing his praises to you.
Structure & Style
The book is broken out into two parts. Part one covers the principles of grounded success. Each principle includes an amalgamation of anecdotes or case studies (of athletes, entrepreneurs, etc.), the inclusion of up-to-date scientific research, psychology, stoicism, philosophy, Buddhism, and Taoism to back-up Stulberg’s claims. Each chapter ends with instructions on how to put each principle into practice.
Part two focuses on the execution, where the theoretical principles become grounded in pragmatism. Stulberg concludes his text by focusing on the principles and the process. By “cultivating acceptance, presence, patience, vulnerability, deep community, and movement”, we’ll be able to get to where we want to go much faster – the end goal is living a happy and fulfilled life which can only come intrinsically.
As someone who has and continues to struggle with Brad’s definition of heroic individualism, this was an important read and reminder to return to those simple everyday practices. One of Brad’s quotidian phrases, “it’s as simple and hard as that” hits the mark perfectly. While these practices are simple in theory, the implementation and self-discipline needed to actually do the inner work is hard. The more complex we make these everyday practices, the less likely we are to enact them. The Practice of Groundedness provides the tools to make these practices accessible and realistic to implement—allowing the flexibility to tailor each principle to our own unique situations and social locations.
When I first received the .pdf manuscript, I gobbled it up within a week then returned a month later to reread. This is the kind of book to keep on your nightstand and to pick-up often until the principles really sink in. While the elements of the book are relatable to someone like me: type A, high stimulus, workaholic, etc.—I believe everyone can take several important lessons away from this book.
The facade and highly filtered lens of social media has had a pernicious effect on our perception of success, including myself. Comparing myself to the facade of other’s accomplishments or “successes” and continuing to raise the bar of some arbitrary standard of success can take a serious toll on your confidence.
By reminding ourselves of the practice of groundedness, we’re more in control of our circumstances and our own happiness. There couldn’t be a better time for this book.
This has been my favorite piece of work by Brad Stulberg to-date, and I can’t think of anyone better suited to write this book. I give this book a 5/5 and can strongly attest that it’s one of my favourite reads in 2021. Highly recommended!
Where to Buy
Special Community Offer
If we’re able to generate 25 book orders from this community, Brad will do a live book discussion (which I’ll co-ordinate). If you pick up a copy and are interested in joining a live talk with Brad, just email me your receipt!