Pico Iyer’s travel writing chronicles fascinating (and often jarring) examples of cultural mashups. Now he shows how travel can rescue us from our technological distractions.

Why you should listen

Acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer began his career documenting a neglected aspect of travel -- the sometimes surreal disconnect between local tradition and imported global pop culture. Since then, he has written ten books, exploring also the cultural consequences of isolation, whether writing about the exiled spiritual leaders of Tibet or the embargoed society of Cuba.

Iyer’s latest focus is on yet another overlooked aspect of travel: how can it help us regain our sense of stillness and focus in a world where our devices and digital networks increasing distract us? As he says: "Almost everybody I know has this sense of overdosing on information and getting dizzy living at post-human speeds. Nearly everybody I know does something to try to remove herself to clear her head and to have enough time and space to think. ... All of us instinctively feel that something inside us is crying out for more spaciousness and stillness to offset the exhilarations of this movement and the fun and diversion of the modern world."

What others say

“[Iyer] writes the kind of lyrical, flowing prose that could make Des Moines sound beguiling.” — Los Angeles Times

Pico Iyer’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Pico Iyer


Pico Iyer inspires Oprah to have “the biggest aha of my life”

March 6, 2015

On this weekend’s episode of Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey asks TED Books author Pico Iyer to explain more precisely what he means by the word ‘stillness.’ It’s not so much about meditation, he says. “It’s sanity and it’s balance, and it’s a chance to put things in perspective,” he says. Like so many others, […]

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In conversation

Want to be happy? Slow down

January 23, 2015

In this free-wheeling discussion at TED Global in October 2014, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard talked with journalist and writer Pico Iyer about how to spend time meaningfully.

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