Quote of the Day: Pico Iyer on the Joy of Quiet

dinner table photoJess Root/via

Home sweet home. My parent's cozy country cottage, where my cell and laptop get spotty-to-zero service.

Nothing makes me feel better — calmer, clearer and happier — than being in one place, absorbed in a book, a conversation, a piece of music. It’s actually something deeper than mere happiness: it’s joy, which the monk David Steindl-Rast describes as “that kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.”

I've been sharing this quote with my yoga classes, loving my literary crush and travel writer, Pico Iyer's, drawn contrast of happiness to joy. Happiness being a fleeting state effected by external circumstances versus joy, that long-lasting inner cultivation that can prevail even through loss, sadness and change.

Quiet, as Iyer sums up in his beautifully serene New York Times editorial, is a commodity gaining greater ground in this LinkedIn age of Facebook, Twitter and smart phones. While he's shunned FB updates and tweets for a life of quiet living in a suburb of Japan (yes, this guy's hopelessly cool!), he sharply observes without airs, the others of us easily shackled by digital distraction. He writes,

In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight.

Iyer's editorial doesn't just predict travel trends for the new year like "black-hole resorts" where one can cut their strings from the internet, he invites his readers to return to the refreshing but not new idea of slowing down.

I don't believe we have to take such extreme off-grid measures like Mr. Iyer, nor do I think we need to abandon the beauty of our social media interconnection. But his piece does provide good practical ideas to reap the mind-body joy of quiet--that just so happen to also be low-impact on body and planet: long walks, good books, yoga, meditation and Internet sabbaths.

Like he says, these aren't new ideas. They're actually quite antiquated, but decidedly novel in today's noise.

More on Slowing Down:
Slow Down London's 8 Week Course to Slow Down Your Life
Power Down, Unwind on the National Day of Unplugging, March 4-5
Artists and Gadgets Help Slow Down Fast Food

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