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Pico Iyer (Monday Motivation #2)

For today’s Monday Motivation post I want to share an interview I read in a magazine last week, with Pico Iyer, an essayist and novelist, who recently wrote a book about the art of sitting still.

Last week I was reading ‘Happinez’, one of my favorite magazines. I was flipping through it and not really in the mood to read full-length articles. I was just scanning photos and quotes (love that Happinez is full of quotes and pretty pictures) when I turned the page to an interview with a man called Pico Iyer, who I hadn’t heard of before. I started reading the interview, with no real intention of finishing it, but I just couldn’t stop reading. I ripped the pages out of the magazine and reread them multiple times.

Physical vs. mental wellbeing

Why was this interview so inspiring to me? Lately I’ve come to realize how important it is to take care of your soul. I work out and eat healthily but none of that matters if my soul feels neglected. If I’m feeling down, or sad, or angry I can feel how those emotions influence my physical wellbeing. I either get very tired, or I get a headache, or my heart starts skipping beats. The same is true for feeling good or happy: I feel stronger, more alert, more energetic. I am convinced that mental health and physical health both contribute to overall wellbeing and one is not more important than the other. This is also the focus of my blog.

In light of these revelations I was struck by what Pico Iyer said in the interview in Happinez. He said that he believes it is much more important to work on your inner wellbeing, compared to physical health. He stated that, like many others, he frequently goes to the gym (as ordered by his doctor), but while we’re all busy running on a treadmill or lifting weights, we spend little time improving our psyche. He said that three to four times a year he visits a convent in California, which he believes gives him such a psychological boost that it improves his life for 97% (while only taking up 3% of his time).


What also struck me, is what he said about balance. Pico Iyer traveled the world as a travel journalist and is a very busy man. However, he believes in the importance of ‘sitting still’. More importantly: he believes in balance.

“He who travels too much should learn how to sit still. He who sits still too much should learn how to travel” – Pico Iyer

This quote is a translation from the article (which was in Dutch) but I love it. It’s all about balance and learning to take new perspectives on life. Pico said: it’s not about the places you visit, but the perspectives you choose to take. The best way to change your life is to change the way you look at your life. By sitting still Pico learned that going nowhere is a big adventure, which can make you understand every other place you visit. It’s a way to fall in love with the world we live in and cut through all the noise. Also: although he had commitment issues, stillness inspired him to finally propose to his wife. Being still taught him that if he wanted to enrich his life, it was a hurdle he had to overcome.

The Art of Stillness

Pico Iyer believes so strongly in the importance of sitting still that he wrote a book about it (which I ordered right away!). It’s called “The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere”. I haven’t read it yet, but I am hoping for more wisdom in how stilness can change your life. I’ve recently started reading books on meditation and I really want to explore it further. I also have a new-found love for traveling the world (which I never really had before) but think it might be a form of escapism. I would love to live a life where I can be happy by both sitting still and experiencing everything life has to offer. I loved the words of Pico Iyer and hope they inspire you too in some way.

Happy Monday people!

Emmelyn X

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    Book review: The art of stillness - Emmelyn Croes
    December 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    […] I wrote in my previous post, I had never heard of Pico Iyer before, but I was moved by what he was saying. It was just what I […]

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