TED Book: In Praise of Wasting Time

Lightman, who lives less than a mile from Walden Pond, takes a page from Thoreau, convincingly arguing that we must embrace play, solitude, and contemplation to leaven our hyperstimulated lives.

TED Book: In Praise of Wasting Time

In Praise of Wasting Time

by Alan Lightman
In today's frenzied and wired world, we are obsessed with the idea of not "wasting time." But have we lost the silences and solitude so essential to our inner lives?

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About the book

TED Book: In Praise of Wasting Time

In this vital investigation of the rush and heave of the modern world, Alan Lightman explores the technological and cultural origins of our time-driven lives. More importantly, he reveals the many values of "wasting time" -- for replenishing the mind, for creative thought, and for finding and solidifying the inner self.

A great deal of evidence suggests the value in wasting time, of letting the mind lie fallow for some periods, of letting minutes and hours go by without scheduled activities or intended tasks, of unplugging from the grid.

Lightman urges us, as both individuals and as a society, to break free of the idea that not a second is to be wasted and to discover that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all.

About the author

Alan Lightman is a physicist, novelist, and essayist. He is Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Lightman is the author of five novels, several collections of essays, a book-length narrative poem, a memoir, and several books on science. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, Harper's, the New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Salon, among other publications.

He is an elected member of the American Academy of Sciences and has won numerous other awards. Lightman is also the founding director of the Harpswell Foundation, which works to advance a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia.

TED Book author: Alan Lightman