Benefits of Stillness

While running Sunday afternoon, I had Ryan Holiday’s book Stillness is the Key playing on Audible. With less than a half mile left of my run, Ryan (he reads it himself) begins reading the chapter Limit Your Inputs and begins it with a quote.

A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

-Herbert Simon

I stopped there on the sidewalk and took a note. This was worth thinking about.

When I am engaged in a book, whether listening to it or reading from the page, research has shown that I am getting more from that than if I were reading something similar on a screen but with links I can click on for more information.

You would think that having access to all that information would lead to a more thorough and broad understanding of whatever the book was trying to convey. This is not the case, however. The access to all of that extra information comes at a cost.

We pay the same cost when we scroll on our phones, believing we must be up to speed on the most current events. We’re better off diving into one article that we find interesting and giving it (and only it) our full and undivided attention. If the other stuff we’ve missed out on turns out to be important to know, that information will evenually make its way to us. It’s OK not to be first.

You may have noticed that lately you’ve been forced into a stillness. This COVID-19 outbreak has many of us cooped up indoors. Local events have been cancelled as well as many nationally televised events. As the Stoics would put it, this obsticle in our lives has become the way.

Find opportunity in this stillness. Quiet your mind. Create some headspace. Meditate on the moment. Take advantage of this forced stillness and let yourself create some great habits that you can take with you if and when this crisis ends.

Featured photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

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