Edward Slingerland explains why we find spontaneity so elusive, and shows how early Chinese thought points the way to happier, more authentic lives. We’ve long been told that the way to achieve our goals is through careful reasoning and conscious effort. But recent research suggests that many aspects of a satisfying life, like happiness and spontaneity, are best pursued indirectly.
The early Chinese philosophers knew this, and they wrote extensively about an effortless way of being in the world, which they called wu-wei (ooo-way). They believed it was the source of all success in life, and they developed various strategies for getting it and hanging on to it.
This book will not teach you how to be more spontaneous. Because of the very nature of spontaneity it is not something you can learn from a book. However it does show how not concentrating on a task will help achieve the desired outcome.
This book also explores the meaning of the Chinese concepts of wu-wei. The book is full of examples of the action-less doing of wu-wei (being in the zone) as well as examples from contemporary neuroscience. It even goes as far as comparing wu-wei to Luke Skywalker using the force in Star Wars.
This is not a self-help book, it doesn’t have a simple step-by-step guide on how to be more spontaneous. However it does have concepts that you can put into practice in every day life to try and be more spontaneous. Whether that be in sport, art, blogging or just falling asleep.
*I received a copy of this book from Broadway Books in exchange for an honest review.