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In this timely and essential book that offers a fresh take on the qualms of modern day life, Professor Alan Lightman investigates the creativity born from allowing our minds to freely roam, without attempting to accomplish anything and without any assigned tasks. We are all worried about wasting time. Especially in the West, we have created a frenzied lifestyle in which the In this timely and essential book that offers a fresh take on the qualms of modern day life, Professor Alan Lightman investigates the creativity born from allowing our minds to freely roam, without attempting to accomplish anything and without any assigned tasks. We are all worried about wasting time. Especially in the West, we have created a frenzied lifestyle in which the twenty-­four hours of each day are carved up, dissected, and reduced down to ten minute units of efficiency. We take our iPhones and laptops with us on vacation. We check email at restaurants or our brokerage accounts while walking in the park. When the school day ends, our children are overloaded with “extras.” Our university curricula are so crammed our young people don’t have time to reflect on the material they are supposed to be learning. Yet in the face of our time-driven existence, a great deal of evidence suggests there is great value in “wasting time,” of letting the mind lie fallow for some periods, of letting minutes and even hours go by without scheduled activities or intended tasks. Gustav Mahler routinely took three or four-­hour walks after lunch, stopping to jot down ideas in his notebook. Carl Jung did his most creative thinking and writing when he visited his country house. In his 1949 autobiography, Albert Einstein described how his thinking involved letting his mind roam over many possibilities and making connections between concepts that were previously unconnected. With In Praise of Wasting Time, Professor Alan Lightman documents the rush and heave of the modern world, suggests the technological and cultural origins of our time-­driven lives, and examines the many values of “wasting time”—for replenishing the mind, for creative thought, and for finding and solidifying the inner self. Break free from the idea that we must not waste a single second, and discover how sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all.


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In this timely and essential book that offers a fresh take on the qualms of modern day life, Professor Alan Lightman investigates the creativity born from allowing our minds to freely roam, without attempting to accomplish anything and without any assigned tasks. We are all worried about wasting time. Especially in the West, we have created a frenzied lifestyle in which the In this timely and essential book that offers a fresh take on the qualms of modern day life, Professor Alan Lightman investigates the creativity born from allowing our minds to freely roam, without attempting to accomplish anything and without any assigned tasks. We are all worried about wasting time. Especially in the West, we have created a frenzied lifestyle in which the twenty-­four hours of each day are carved up, dissected, and reduced down to ten minute units of efficiency. We take our iPhones and laptops with us on vacation. We check email at restaurants or our brokerage accounts while walking in the park. When the school day ends, our children are overloaded with “extras.” Our university curricula are so crammed our young people don’t have time to reflect on the material they are supposed to be learning. Yet in the face of our time-driven existence, a great deal of evidence suggests there is great value in “wasting time,” of letting the mind lie fallow for some periods, of letting minutes and even hours go by without scheduled activities or intended tasks. Gustav Mahler routinely took three or four-­hour walks after lunch, stopping to jot down ideas in his notebook. Carl Jung did his most creative thinking and writing when he visited his country house. In his 1949 autobiography, Albert Einstein described how his thinking involved letting his mind roam over many possibilities and making connections between concepts that were previously unconnected. With In Praise of Wasting Time, Professor Alan Lightman documents the rush and heave of the modern world, suggests the technological and cultural origins of our time-­driven lives, and examines the many values of “wasting time”—for replenishing the mind, for creative thought, and for finding and solidifying the inner self. Break free from the idea that we must not waste a single second, and discover how sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all.

30 review for In Praise of Wasting Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    4.30pm yesterday Start reading page one. 4.31pm Tablet makes noise. Stop to check email. 4.35pm Continue reading page one. 4.36pm Check phone, may be a test message. Well, it would be easy enough, evidently, for most people’s diary of reading this book to go like that. But I, and most people who are important to me, aren’t like that. We hardly ever turn on our phones, if we do, we forget that they are on, get the text message days later. Don’t have smart phones. I suspect Alan Lightman will never hav 4.30pm yesterday Start reading page one. 4.31pm Tablet makes noise. Stop to check email. 4.35pm Continue reading page one. 4.36pm Check phone, may be a test message. Well, it would be easy enough, evidently, for most people’s diary of reading this book to go like that. But I, and most people who are important to me, aren’t like that. We hardly ever turn on our phones, if we do, we forget that they are on, get the text message days later. Don’t have smart phones. I suspect Alan Lightman will never have the right audience. People like me don’t live in the way he rues. The people who might get something out of it aren’t going to. In fact, he pretty much concedes that it’s a do as I say, not as I do book. He did get a smart phone, later than other people, and was addicted within days. One of the things I love about having a proper computer, with a proper screen, is that it’s in its proper place. It isn’t part of me. It’s part of the room it sits in. Very occasionally it goes on a trip and reappears in another part of the world, part of another room. Never part of me. Going to my computer is a conscious act and this keeps addiction to a minimum. When I do go through periods of sitting there, ‘wasting time’ it’s for a purpose, pretty much that which is, after all, the message of the book. There are some things one can look at in a sort of Zen way, if you like, whilst sitting on a computer, whilst one’s brain is in the background, figuring something out. It can be calming, it can be a way of pushing stress away. I collect on Pinterest pictures of green. Perhaps for a person living in the middle of a European cityscape with no chance to take the daily meandering rural walks as a child Lightman wistfully refers to, these take the place. I hope they aren’t just an addiction. But I spend substantial periods away from my computer too. Lightman doesn’t talk about cooking, but much of the ‘drudgery’ involved is mindless, exactly the sort of time one’s mind can transport itself. Washing up, chopping, stirring. One of the reasons I resist using machines to do the work of chopping is that it would take away that time, it would replace it with ugly noise and forced concentration. Lightman also doesn’t mention knitting, the Zen of nice white women who are wealthy enough to do knitting for the process without concern for the time taken. A privilege we have, that our mothers didn’t, who knitted furiously to get that jumper we needed ready for the moment. I walk everywhere, unplugged. There was a period in my life when I listened to music while walking, but I seem to have left that long ago. I have never driven so the anger and stress of that appallingly wasted time has never been part of my life. On public transport I read. Or stare out the window. Or knit. Contemplate. Time – of course it’s our enemy in the end. We will run out of it. But on a day to day basis it is not my enemy, it has little to do with my life. When walking, if presented with the shorter path which has the pollution (in every respect, especially noise) of motors or the peace of the pedestrian path, the latter is taken almost every time. There is nothing special about any of this, they are choices we all make. Many choose to be plugged in so that they don’t hear the trees as they walk along the lake. Many choose to take a photo of their surrounds, rather than look at them. Many choose to evaluate their lives through the competition of Facebook. In the case of time, I’ve often been accused of having the time to spare, to for example, cook properly. But I make that choice. The person accusing me of it spends a lot of time watching football on TV. They don’t see the choice as they cook indifferent meals for their children, butchershop marinated meat, supermarket chopped vegetables. On the one hand, I suppose it is something I give people, cooking properly for them. On the other, for much of the process I get the possibility of the sort of time Lightman says he wants, but can’t give himself. Not really. He doesn’t even convince himself properly, let alone the rest of us. rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    As in Einstein's Dreams, time seems to be a central theme in Mr. Lightman books. And for good reason. We live in a world governed by time; we are always busy, trying to accomplish as much as possible each day, having left no free time for our inner selves. We do not see as often our friends because we have apps to keep in touch, we shop online, we are addicted to internet through all available means. The author points this out because all this daily rush brings no benefits to us. Among the issue As in Einstein's Dreams, time seems to be a central theme in Mr. Lightman books. And for good reason. We live in a world governed by time; we are always busy, trying to accomplish as much as possible each day, having left no free time for our inner selves. We do not see as often our friends because we have apps to keep in touch, we shop online, we are addicted to internet through all available means. The author points this out because all this daily rush brings no benefits to us. Among the issues presented in this book are: - Depression and anxiety rising in young people due to addiction to smartphones and social media; - Increased stress overall in population due to increasingly fast-paced society; - Dramatic decrease in creativity in children and other problems, all these based on research done over the years. There are numerous studies presented here which should raise awareness toward all above problems. Every day on my way to work I see people with the eyes in their smartphones, not even looking where they step; they write messages even when walking. But when it comes to meeting face to face, things get awkward; I think we are slowly becoming robots. Wasting time is a metaphor, of course. The author is trying to show that having free time and spending it free from internet, news, work, is to our benefit. The brain needs this kind of relaxation. Spending time with friends and family face to face, walking in a park, having a small vacation in a remote place with no access to media is what our body and mind needs after a day/months of work. It’s a small book but it’s sufficient to make you ponder on your daily routine. And maybe afterwards, to find some time to waste - I definitely try to waste as much as I can :D >>> ARC received thanks to Simon & Schuster/ TED via NetGalley <<<

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Celebrity Death Match Special: In Praise of Wasting Time versus Feed Me! - Oh wow! - Oh wow! - Good morning, Happy Chat Beast! - Feed me! Feed me! - Ah'm ae goin' ta feed you, Happy Chat Beast! - I'm so happy! Are you happy, Goodreader? - Aw noo! Ah doon't have enough likes! - Feed me! - Whut aem ah goin' tae dew? - Go to Granny, Goodreader! - Oh wow, Happy Chat Beast! Ye're right! That's whut ae'll dew! - Feed me! - So Granny, the problem is ah doon't have enuff likes, like. D'ye think ye could give me sumt Celebrity Death Match Special: In Praise of Wasting Time versus Feed Me! - Oh wow! - Oh wow! - Good morning, Happy Chat Beast! - Feed me! Feed me! - Ah'm ae goin' ta feed you, Happy Chat Beast! - I'm so happy! Are you happy, Goodreader? - Aw noo! Ah doon't have enough likes! - Feed me! - Whut aem ah goin' tae dew? - Go to Granny, Goodreader! - Oh wow, Happy Chat Beast! Ye're right! That's whut ae'll dew! - Feed me! - So Granny, the problem is ah doon't have enuff likes, like. D'ye think ye could give me sumthin? - Take this, little girl. A greet noo book by Alan Lightman. - Aw Granny, whut a lot of Eastern wisdom ye got! - All the better tae enlighten ye with, my dear! - But Granny, doon't that Eastern meditation require years of hard study like? - It's just a fookin TED talk ye daft little cunt, it won't taek ye half an hour. Post a fookin review and shut yer fookin trap. - Yes Granny. I'm so happy! - Feed me! - Here ye are Goodreads, me review's all ready! - Nice work little girl! - I'm so happy! Winner: the Internet

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The novelist, physicist, and MIT humanities professor argues that it is only with unstructured time that we can rediscover our true identity and recover our carefree childhood creativity. This work-as-play model goes completely against the modern idea that time is money and every minute of life must be devoted to a project. Lightman’s sharp, concise treatise ruminates on the cultural forces that have enslaved us in the West to productivity. In short, he blames the internet, but specifically smar The novelist, physicist, and MIT humanities professor argues that it is only with unstructured time that we can rediscover our true identity and recover our carefree childhood creativity. This work-as-play model goes completely against the modern idea that time is money and every minute of life must be devoted to a project. Lightman’s sharp, concise treatise ruminates on the cultural forces that have enslaved us in the West to productivity. In short, he blames the internet, but specifically smartphones. He insists on the almost mystical benefits of free time and solitude, which he calls “a gift to our spirit” and an opportunity to “repair our selves.” Discussed as part of an essay on wasting time for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    To be fair to this slender book, if I had realized that this was merely a book version of a TED talk, I would not have picked it up, as that is not a genre that appeals to me. That being said, Lightman is an appealing writer, and I like his advocacy of play as a source of creativity for children and adults. I am convinced by his suggestion that the brain needs more fallow time than our neoliberal, networked, hyper-segmented schedules generally allow. Though he gestures to capitalism's role in th To be fair to this slender book, if I had realized that this was merely a book version of a TED talk, I would not have picked it up, as that is not a genre that appeals to me. That being said, Lightman is an appealing writer, and I like his advocacy of play as a source of creativity for children and adults. I am convinced by his suggestion that the brain needs more fallow time than our neoliberal, networked, hyper-segmented schedules generally allow. Though he gestures to capitalism's role in this reduction of time to money, his point is not really to assess the structure or source of this busy-ness but rather to urge to the individual a new sense of mindfulness, wandering, and play. I was particularly struck by his example of a psychological test where participants were given a problem, then allowed to play Tetris (or some other video game), and then were asked for answers. The participants who did this--rather than go directly to the solution--scored better on creativity than the participants who were just given the problem to solve. This seems right to me. So much of my creative thinking and problem solving goes on while I'm doing other things--from taking a shower to cooking a meal to talking to myself. Lightman laments that contemporary life allows less and less space for that kind of absent-minded ratiocination. You're probably thinking that this is fairly obvious. And yes, basically, Lightman says what we've all thought and many op-eds have insisted: smartphones are taking over our brains and our leisure time! The pressure to make every minute count makes our brains noisier and our ideas poorer. He has some additional data and anecdotes to add but basically--and this is one of my bones to pick with the TED talk genre--he is confirming what we already sense to be true. Finally, my biggest gripe with the book is that Lightman doesn't acknowledge how gendered this is. I mean, never mind that he's implicitly worried about privileged people who are overworked--not the stresses of poverty or systemic racism, which would also make it more difficult to daydream, wander, and play--it also doesn't seem to occur to him that "geniuses" who get to take three hour walks to let their minds run wild probably also has someone else to make their meals, keep track of their appointments, mind their children, do their laundry. And that someone else, up until very recent history (and often even now!) is usually a woman. When my mind drifts, it drifts to the several tracks of tasks that need to be accomplished at work, in my home, and for my daughter. That mental space that is supposed to lay fallow, problem-solving and day-dreaming, is occupied by the responsibilities that are unevenly accorded to women in our culture. Even Lightman's one example of the woman genius, Gertrude Stein, had her partner, Alice B. Toklas, arranging the cows for her in picturesque scenes. There always seems to be someone to take care of the domestic work, the mundane details. Lightman's vision of mental freedom is predicated on a nostalgic fantasy of implicitly masculine autonomy. He celebrates his wife, a painter, and his granddaughter, discovering prisms, dance, and more, so I'm not saying that he's intentionally excluding women from his vision of the virtues of idleness, just that his very sense of unhemmed liberty and unfettered mobility reflects his experiences growing up and being educated as a white man. A Room of One's Own would be good companion reading (but then, it is for just about anything).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Max

    It is a mess and ripetitve! A lot of words to say that you need free time to recharge yourself and to be more productive and creative in the future. Thank you Alan! He makes a lot of confusion among the concepts of creativity, productivity and resting of the mind. He correlates these concepts to the idea of wasting time but the links make no sense. And then......He starts talking about Mindfulness and a beautiful and simple concept as wasting time starts to become a bad idea.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I really liked his most recent books (looking at stars in Maine). This one is pretty shallow--you've heard it all before. We are too busy, we need down time to be more creative. Kids are stressed out and overscheduled--oh and the added "the indigenous Mongolians don't care about time." Yawn. But seriously, thoreau and many others have written this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    A TED talk in book form. At first glance, me reading a book entitled In Praise of Wasting Time while I am busy preparing for an out-of-state move, seems like a poor choice. However, it turned out to be what I needed at this juncture of my life. Lightman writes about the human need for solitude, for peace, for getting off the grid at times in order to recharge. It's a reminder to me of how to reach mental calmness and clarity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    Lightman's meditations on slowing down and allowing the brain to do its thing was probably really great and fantastic, but I felt so guilty the entire time because I was listening to the audiobook at 3.5X speed -- I just felt hypocritical.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Jones

    This book has helped me re-frame my anxiety over my relationship with the wired world into a much more positive and healthy frame work; where I have been down on my self for being an under-performer, lazy, a luddite, a crusty old fool, I now can see that there is a reasonable motive for my desire to spend time in my own head. Thank you Mr. Lightman.

  11. 4 out of 5

    mindful.librarian ☀️

    A tiny little book of connected essays that’s a great affirmation for anyone who has already decided to take a deep breath, and maybe something to hand to someone who desperately needs to stop living so fast.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ericka Clouther

    This is short and doesn't contain new information but would make a fine gift for someone who works too much or for a young person foolishly considering a job in business or law.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    I’ll always love Lightman’s writing, but it didn’t really seem like anything new was being posited here. We spend too much time on our smartphones and now we have anxiety? Yep. Kids need more recess and playtime to build creativity? You’re right. The concept of “billable hours” is burning people out? Uh huh... and? The irony of the title is that the amount of time we waste is contributing to our unhappiness - because we’re wasting it on the wrong things - but Lightman only offers evidence, not s I’ll always love Lightman’s writing, but it didn’t really seem like anything new was being posited here. We spend too much time on our smartphones and now we have anxiety? Yep. Kids need more recess and playtime to build creativity? You’re right. The concept of “billable hours” is burning people out? Uh huh... and? The irony of the title is that the amount of time we waste is contributing to our unhappiness - because we’re wasting it on the wrong things - but Lightman only offers evidence, not solutions. Maybe he needs more time on the playground before that particular book is written?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    A very timely book in today's busy, busy world. Remember when we were children, and could lie on our backs and just look at the clouds? And just let our minds wander? Some would call it "wasting time". What happened to those times? Today we are constantly rushing from one task to another. Always 'plugged in" to some electronic device, checking them over and over again to make sure we don't miss something. Even on our vacations! And what is the result of all this busy searching? Are we ever reall A very timely book in today's busy, busy world. Remember when we were children, and could lie on our backs and just look at the clouds? And just let our minds wander? Some would call it "wasting time". What happened to those times? Today we are constantly rushing from one task to another. Always 'plugged in" to some electronic device, checking them over and over again to make sure we don't miss something. Even on our vacations! And what is the result of all this busy searching? Are we ever really satisfied? News flash....you will never get to the end of the internet, never are going to be "up" on everything. And that's okay, the world will not end if we don't be the first to find out the latest Kardashian news, or what Sue said about John on Facebook, or to see the latest bunny ears photo enhancement of Kay on SnapChat! And that's what this book is about. Taking a step back from our time-driven lives and just "wasting time" for a bit. I like this line, "break free from the idea that we must not waste a single second, and discover how sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all." Did you know that Albert Einstein described his thinking process as letting his mind roam over many possibilities and making connections between concepts that were previously unconnected! I wonder how he could do that today, and still check his phone every ten minutes? That Hindu's discovered over 2500 years ago that the mind needs periods of calm, and to rest. A passage from a Buddhist monk reads "when a monk has gone into an empty place, and has calmed his mind, he experiences a delight that transcends that of men". Lightman explains how you need quiet time and stillness to find your inner self, that part of you that imagines, that dreams, that explores, and that is constantly questioning who you are and what is important to you. He explains that it really comes down to the big questions in life: how should you live in the world, and why should you live that way? For him, and for many of us, there are certain things we all want in life. 1) the pure joy of helping others, without expecting anything in return. 2) the belief in certain values that require action. 3) the desire to have an impact in the world, to make a difference. And 4) the desire to promote one's self or achieve personal gain, regardless of whether there is any positive impact on the world. And how can you determine how to do these things, if you are always rushing around, and not "wasting" time to listen to yourself? Lest you think that this is all well and good, but you don't have time for it, Lightman lists what happens to people who don't slow down. Think about your own children, how they don't seem as happy as you used to be when you were their age. The rate of teenagers reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year has almost doubled from 2010 to 2015. Experts say the main reason is the "massive and pervasive presence of the digital grid, with little opportunity or desire to disconnect". A Pew survey shows that the average American teenager today sends or receives more than 110 text messages a day! And that the source of the increased depression and anxiety is their "terror of aloneness'. their FOMO (fear of missing out). I think Lightman is really onto something here. And that we owe it to ourselves to take a step back from all the noise and distractions to just tune out for a bit and waste some time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    In the short book In Praise of Wasting Time, Alan Lightman asks us to reflect on how we view and use time. Too often, we rush to fill every spare second, striving to be more productive. Idleness borders on immorality and boredom is something to be feared. And now with smartphones, we’re always reachable and an endless amount of information is just a few swipes away. While productivity has risen dramatically with this busyness, so has depression and anxiety, even in our children. Drawing from psy In the short book In Praise of Wasting Time, Alan Lightman asks us to reflect on how we view and use time. Too often, we rush to fill every spare second, striving to be more productive. Idleness borders on immorality and boredom is something to be feared. And now with smartphones, we’re always reachable and an endless amount of information is just a few swipes away. While productivity has risen dramatically with this busyness, so has depression and anxiety, even in our children. Drawing from psychological studies and brain scans, Lightman claims our well-being depends on having time to ponder, reflect, and rest, and that losing free time is harmful to creativity and divergent thinking. To regain our sense of balance, he suggests looking at free time in a positive way, instead of as time wasted. He also provides ideas for incorporating more breaks into daily life. Some are not practical for most of us because they require changes in workplaces and schools (hopefully bosses, teachers, and administrators are among the readers); others can easily be incorporated into our days, such as purposefully spending a chunk of time technology free. His points have stuck with me. While in line at the post office this morning, I almost checked my email. Then I decided to take a moment to reflect on my day. A waste of time? Lightman would say not. And the only email I missed was a promotion from Shutterfly. In Praise of Wasting Time will be published on May 15. I recommend it for those who need a reminder to slow down and daydream once in awhile. The book developed from a TED Talk and is published by TED Books. I love that the most popular speakers are given another platform to expand upon their ideas. A benefit of books is that notes on the sources are included. There have been a few times that a speaker mentions a study or book that I’d like to check out, but it’s difficult to catch names and titles during a speech. And all TED Books are short enough to be read in a day. Just be sure to take Lightman’s advice and set aside time to reflect on what you learn. Thank you to NetGalley and TED Books for the opportunity to review In Praise of Wasting Time. For more of my reviews, please check out my blog www.vagabondreader.com.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pete Wung

    Alan Lightman is a very well regarded writer. His Einstein’s Dream is a playful piece of writing which explores Einstein’s relativity idea by playing with time and demonstrating relativity through clever writing. This book, although not as whimsical is a valuable warning, guidebook, and inspiration. Lightman delves into his daily existence and found that he was caught up in the accelerating pace of modern life. Much of the acceleration comes from the rapid pace of technological development and h Alan Lightman is a very well regarded writer. His Einstein’s Dream is a playful piece of writing which explores Einstein’s relativity idea by playing with time and demonstrating relativity through clever writing. This book, although not as whimsical is a valuable warning, guidebook, and inspiration. Lightman delves into his daily existence and found that he was caught up in the accelerating pace of modern life. Much of the acceleration comes from the rapid pace of technological development and he found himself being caught up in this era of computers, smartphones, instant messengers etc. He does a bit of research into what these brand new and invasive habits are doing to our minds and our lives. Needless to say, he found the changes in our habits lacking and he also experiences what we all do: that the dictates of this life is forcing our cognitive ability changed, and not for the better. Lightman does a bit of storytelling and a bit of information relating, all to illustrate to us the predicament that we find ourselves in. The book is well structured and Lightman makes his points carefully and concisely. The chapters are well written and hits several notes of recognition in me and drew me in. He stays away from being pedantic and did not prescribe solutions, leaving the solutions to us the readers to contemplate and discover for ourselves. He did give us some salient examples. It is a good monograph that I can refer to in my worst days of being lost to time and be able to recover my equilibrium and slow my time down. I can use this book to abandon my chronos temporarily and indulge in my Kairos. (Read the book, it is Chapter 7.) One note. This is a publication of TED, and this is the second book from TED that I have read. So far the content has been good but not in depth, much lik the TED Talks, it serves to keep the reader’s mind engaged without delving into the subject in a deep manner. It is a good start, I hope they keep it up.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Professor Lightman offers a compelling case for the need of unstructured time, time to "develop the habit of the mind for contemplation and reflection." We need to embrace solitude and have time to explore and create. We need to "unplug" from our devices and learn how to be quiet, allowing creative connections to form. The most constructive thought I took from his book is, "I suggest that we should think of the time spent in creative thought, in quiet reflection and contemplation, in mental reple Professor Lightman offers a compelling case for the need of unstructured time, time to "develop the habit of the mind for contemplation and reflection." We need to embrace solitude and have time to explore and create. We need to "unplug" from our devices and learn how to be quiet, allowing creative connections to form. The most constructive thought I took from his book is, "I suggest that we should think of the time spent in creative thought, in quiet reflection and contemplation, in mental replenishment, in consolidation of our identity and values in positive terms- not as what it is not, but as what it is. It is time to restore our psychological well-being. It is time to promote growth as human beings. It is time to unleash our imaginations. It is time to protect our sanity. It is time to understand who we are and who we are becoming. 'Wasting time' engaged in the activities I've described is far from immoral uselessness. It may be the most important occupation of our minds." I see the need for this use of time. What isn't easily discovered is how to actually find the time to do it. As a society, especially in the United States, we put so much emphasis on progress and accomplishing more that I find it hard to see how our culture can or will change to accommodate a slower, quieter pace. But it is worth thinking about and trying to implement it as an individual.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    In our society, we’ve become addicted to always being connected, having instantaneous communication, and constantly being entertained by one device or another. This has improved many parts of our lives. But there are consequences. In Praise of Wasting Time presents some of the research both of problems with our constant connection and benefits of wasting time and urges us to just stop on occasion and enjoy life. Take a walk and think. Write in a journal about wherever your mind takes you. Play a In our society, we’ve become addicted to always being connected, having instantaneous communication, and constantly being entertained by one device or another. This has improved many parts of our lives. But there are consequences. In Praise of Wasting Time presents some of the research both of problems with our constant connection and benefits of wasting time and urges us to just stop on occasion and enjoy life. Take a walk and think. Write in a journal about wherever your mind takes you. Play a mindless game of solitaire while your subconscious mulls over a task. The weird thing is, all evidence points to spending a little bit of “wasted” time will actually improve creativity, happiness, and productivity. I highly recommend reading this book (and putting the ideas into practice). It’s short so you can read it in one or two sittings if you want. It could change your life for the better.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    Lightman explores how the increased speed of communication has driven the increased pace of our daily lives --both at home and at work. Our downtime and time for silence and reflection has suffered -- and the impact of that lost quiet or unplanned, unconnected time is profound. Ironically, I caught myself looking over at my phone a couple of times while reading this -- highlighting some of the points he was making. Despite being really engaged in his arguments in the essay, I was still looking a Lightman explores how the increased speed of communication has driven the increased pace of our daily lives --both at home and at work. Our downtime and time for silence and reflection has suffered -- and the impact of that lost quiet or unplanned, unconnected time is profound. Ironically, I caught myself looking over at my phone a couple of times while reading this -- highlighting some of the points he was making. Despite being really engaged in his arguments in the essay, I was still looking at external stimuli, seeing if something had come in to my email that I needed to deal with right away. I enjoyed this extended essay based on his Ted Talk and appreciated that in addition to making his point (well supported in research), he also offered some strategies for protecting "wasted time".

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    The irony that I'm writing this review on my smartphone is not lost on me. I'll read anything Alan Lightman writes, and I've been feeling really uncomfortable with the amount of screen time I am exposed to each day, so a manifesto about unplugging from the wired world was a welcome read. I hate looking around and seeing everyone (myself included!!) glued to their phones, and was validated to find that Lightman recommended sitting outside with a book for half an hour each day, something I make a The irony that I'm writing this review on my smartphone is not lost on me. I'll read anything Alan Lightman writes, and I've been feeling really uncomfortable with the amount of screen time I am exposed to each day, so a manifesto about unplugging from the wired world was a welcome read. I hate looking around and seeing everyone (myself included!!) glued to their phones, and was validated to find that Lightman recommended sitting outside with a book for half an hour each day, something I make a point to do daily. I need to get better about the reflexive phone checks every 5 minutes when nothing-- and I do mean nothing--that important could possibly have happened since the last time I checked. I liked the glimpses into his other novels, including the lizard-in-a-rocket story from his childhood which appears in "Good Benito," and which I finished earlier in August.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

    In this book based on his TED talk, Alan Lightman extols the the virtues of downtime, time devoted to letting the mind wander and be at its most creative. In a culture that practically worships speed and productivity, it's a bit sad that this book is even necessary, but Lightman, a scientist, does his research on both our culture and the virtue of slowing down to think. A short, quick and worthwhile read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I loved this book. It is hard for me to remember that simply drifting, looking from a train window at trees, lying on the beach hearing the surf - just doing nothing for considerable amounts of time - can not only make you calmer but enrich every aspect of your life. Beautifully done!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Arup Guha

    This is a timely book. It could have been a great book that opens our eyes to one of the ills of the modern civilization, similar to Michael Pollan's Cooked, but I guess that would have required a lot more research. Moot point is if we continue like this, AI wouldn't have to exist separably from natural intelligence. We would lose all our creative potential, one that separates us from the machines, and would become AI ourselves, mechanically responding to every query, solving tactical problems, This is a timely book. It could have been a great book that opens our eyes to one of the ills of the modern civilization, similar to Michael Pollan's Cooked, but I guess that would have required a lot more research. Moot point is if we continue like this, AI wouldn't have to exist separably from natural intelligence. We would lose all our creative potential, one that separates us from the machines, and would become AI ourselves, mechanically responding to every query, solving tactical problems, compulsively connected to the grid.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chloe (thelastcolour)

    an enlightening and inspiring read. i think i need to make some changes to my life. highly recommend if you're looking for something short and sweet.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Blaise

    Lovely book with an important message. Easy to read and full of interesting tales and thorough research. Makes you pause and reflect on time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    (Alice) Aley Martin

    Lightman takes his time to ponder, then explain with ease... and keen insights into the human experience. Nicely written

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Gesker

    Ugh. This may be the whitest book I've ever read. it is so easy for him to wax poetic about slow lifestyles in other countries while he is obviously a son of privilege with 10 Buddhist retreat and artist wife. Someone up his family tree busted his butt for him to be so disdainful of modern hubbub all the while benefiting from it himself here. Nothing new. Rant against the digital age and supposed decrease in child creativity and sociability. Trust me, my two children are far more insightful and Ugh. This may be the whitest book I've ever read. it is so easy for him to wax poetic about slow lifestyles in other countries while he is obviously a son of privilege with 10 Buddhist retreat and artist wife. Someone up his family tree busted his butt for him to be so disdainful of modern hubbub all the while benefiting from it himself here. Nothing new. Rant against the digital age and supposed decrease in child creativity and sociability. Trust me, my two children are far more insightful and creative than this dinosaur. Sorry I have to go to work to feed them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    I went into this book expecting a discussion of the merits and benefits of wasting time, and insofar as the book stayed with this topic, I loved it. 5 stars for those parts, I adore Lightman's writing style, it whetted my appetite for his Maine book, etc. There were also interesting historical bits about how we got here, scattered throughout. And interesting memoir bits. But way way way too much of the book by wordcount is about how awful and terrible being connected to the Internet is, and those I went into this book expecting a discussion of the merits and benefits of wasting time, and insofar as the book stayed with this topic, I loved it. 5 stars for those parts, I adore Lightman's writing style, it whetted my appetite for his Maine book, etc. There were also interesting historical bits about how we got here, scattered throughout. And interesting memoir bits. But way way way too much of the book by wordcount is about how awful and terrible being connected to the Internet is, and those sections are fairly superficial, don't consider the ways people usefully waste time using the net as a tool (he could learn some things from the chronically ill on this count, I think), and - as previously mentioned - they are far too repetitive. Would have been a much better book with twice as much lovely argument in favor of the proposition and a third as much jeremiad against Lightman's perceived greatest antagonists of its accomplishment. Also his physicist's habit of significant digit approximations is wall-drive-upping. A mean IQ of 120 among creative people does not mean they have "an average IQ". Children showing less creativity beginning in 1990 is not blameable on the widespread adoption of the internet just because the latter happened only 4-5 years after the former. Still, a worthwhile read for the lovely and compelling parts. Also it's a beautifully made book, a joy to handle.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pat Bousliman

    Quick read, but important. We spend too much time on our damned phones looking at news about the latest thing trump has ruined.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    The book is both a reminder and revelation of the concept of time and how understanding its nuances can chart the path towards more wholesome existence. We live in a world that is wired to celebrate convenience and efficiency, where time is monetised and speed of communication brings upon a sense of immediacy such that it is almost impossible to get off the grid. We are the creator and the beneficiary as much as we are the perpetrator and victim of modern life. Rather than going to the extreme o The book is both a reminder and revelation of the concept of time and how understanding its nuances can chart the path towards more wholesome existence. We live in a world that is wired to celebrate convenience and efficiency, where time is monetised and speed of communication brings upon a sense of immediacy such that it is almost impossible to get off the grid. We are the creator and the beneficiary as much as we are the perpetrator and victim of modern life. Rather than going to the extreme of deactivating our social media accounts or boycotting electronic devices, a habit of mind should be cultivated to embrace the idea of free-grazing mind, of divergent thinking, of spontaneity, of play, of solitude, of contemplative space, of unison with unconnected thoughts that may hide from plain sight should we purposely try to track them down. The book mentions an interesting narrative of creative thinking process that comprises of four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification. A relaxed mind not preoccupied with finding answers is central to the the incubation (or a less fancy name in some cases - stuckness) and illumination stages. I'm grateful for that fraction of my childhood that didn't come with Internet, when I spent days playing with my cousins or building empires with Lego. Oh the luxury of idleness, quality of slowness and digestible rate of information. "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand" - Henry David Thoreau

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