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The Art of Stillness

Pico Iyer on The Art of Stillness

Stashed in: #happiness, Silence, Meditate, Meaning of Life, Shakespeare, Books, Farnam Street, Good advice, Accelerating Returns

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“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~Shakespeare in Hamlet

“Sitting still,” writes Pico Iyer in The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, is “a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it.”

The Art of Stillness is a persuasively argued case for the pleasures of slowing down and being in one place. The adventure of going nowhere but inside ourselves.

Today we’re going faster and faster in search of contentment and meaning. This is largely a recipe for ensuring we will never be happy. The modern diet is a wonderful cocktail of movement and stimulation.

After a thirty-year study of time diaries, two sociologists found that Americans were actually working fewer hours than we did in the 1960s, but we feel as if we’re working more. We have the sense, too often, of running at top speed and never being able to catch up.


We’ve lost our Sundays, our weekends, our nights off — our holy days, as some would have it; our bosses, junk mailers, our parents can find us wherever we are, at any time of day or night. More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.

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