Reclaiming Solitude

Hey everyone,

I recently listened to Digital Minimalism on audiobook and really enjoyed it. From author Cal Newport (who also wrote Deep Work), the book gives a sobering diagnosis of the state of our culture and habits as they relate to technology usage, often focusing on the role of smartphones in our lives.

One of the main concepts from the book is that solitude is helpful and necessary. Newport defines solitude as freedom from input from other minds. To quote Newport (writing on his blog):

Spending time isolated from other minds is what allows you to process and regulate complex emotions. It’s the only time you can refine the principles on which you can build a life of character. It’s what allows you to crack hard problems, and is often necessary for creative insight. If you avoid time alone with your brain your mental life will be much more fragile and much less productive.

Newport also goes into some detail about the benefits of walking and its historical place in American culture. With that in mind, I took a long walk today on our greenway. I’ve also deleted all social media from my phone, and I already feel a change in mentality.

I’m not suggesting that everyone has to approach this the same way. My wife, for example, does social media for her job. But I do think there are significant benefits to be gained here.

Pick up an (electronic) copy from your local library if that sounds interesting.

Pete’s Picks ✅

  1. YouTube Channel: I stumbled upon Beau Miles this weekend and am kind of obsessed. Beau is an outdoor educator/ultramarathoner from Australia who seems to always be getting into adventures. If you’re interested, start with this video. He’s also inspired me to start some hands-on projects around the house, to go along with the whole solitude thing.

  2. Article: Ed Yong is one of the go-to people writing on the coronavirus. He published an article this week in the Atlantic, which gives a clinical breakdown of our country’s failure to handle the pandemic.

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