Deliberate Rest

Designing rest for a busy world

Category: Amsterdam

Get Brainwashed: Talking about work and rest with

When I was in Amsterdam, I took some time to do an interview with the Web magazine Brainwash about REST, work in contemporary society, and creativity. The first section of the interview is now up.

In this section I talk about busyness, why it’s so pervasive and persistent, and how Western thinkers used to consider busyness a kind of moral failing or sloth (channeling the great Josef Pieper and his book Leisure the Basis of Culture).

I think another section will be up in the near future!

“Je brein werkt door als je bewust rust:” I don’t know what it means, but apparently I said it


An article about REST is out in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. It quotes me as saying “Je brein werkt door als je bewust rust.” It might also be a warning. Or a joke.

I can’t tell. I don’t speak Dutch, so I have no idea.
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“What we used to know about rest” in Thrive Global

I didn’t make a note about this when it came out last week, but I have a piece in Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s new project, about “What we used to know about rest, and what we should reclaim,” based on my experience in London and Amsterdam.

The School of Life Amsterdam

Writing those two cities always makes me feel like I’m describing the life of a 17th-century lens grinder or religious dissenter.

Business Insider on “How rest makes you more creative and productive”

When I was in Amsterdam, one of the magazines I talked to was the Dutch version of Business Insider. Now, the English version has published a translation of the article, which will teach you have to “use a strategy practiced by everyone from Darwin to Google to be more productive without becoming a workaholic.”


Truly, the world is flat!

If you want, you can also read it in the original.

Talk at the Westerkerk

On Wednesday I gave my talk at the Westerkerk in Amsterdam, sponsored by the School of Life Amsterdam.


I expected that the Westerkerk would be a cool venue, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a giant church, made more impressive by the fact that it dates from the seventeenth century, and is just beautifully proportioned, constructed and maintained. And it turned out to be the perfect place to talk about the place of rest in busy lives: its congregation was Protestant merchants who grew wealthy off trade, but they saw fit to place in the middle of their busy city a monument to prayer and contemplation and rest.


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Off to Europe next week

My new Red Oxx bag

I’m spending this weekend with family and dogs, and starting to get things together for my first REST-related trip abroad. I’m going to be in London to promote the Penguin Life edition of Rest, then will go to Amsterdam for the release of the Dutch edition of Rest and a talk sponsored by The School of Life.

I’ll be blogging the details of the trip on my personal blog, and if time allows may also post some to Twitter and Flickr; though I prefer to save up my experiences until the end of the day and write about them, rather than try to document them in real time.

If I lose my Amsterdam talk, I’ll have help finding it

The first translation of REST is actually going to appear before the American edition: my super-fast Dutch publisher Kosmos (who also published a translation of The Distraction Addiction) is going to bring out a couple weeks before the book drops (as the kids say today) in the U.S. Which is why I’ll be speaking in the Netherlands at the end of November.

My plan is to deliver my main talk (sponsored by the School of Life) without slides, since I’m in a fabulous space that I don’t want to compete with. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to try to confine people’s attention to Powerpoint slides when you’re in one of Europe’s great churches.

Normally I do my best to write my talk before I leave, but I will sometimes tweak it a little on the way. Fortunately this helpful guy will be at the Amsterdam airport in case I leave my talk on the plane:

Speaking at the Westerkerk: Come for the rest, stay for the magnificent 17th century architecture!

I’m going to be going to Amsterdam in November to promote the Dutch edition of my new book REST, and one of the events I’ll do is a talk organized by the School of Life on November 23.

I was looking at the logistical details, and it turns out that the evening will be held at the Westerkerk, a 17th-century Protestant church that’s one of the largest in the Netherlands and looks absolutely spectacular (and has a great view of the city).

When I was younger I did a lot of choral singing at churches, so I’m more familiar performing in this kind of environment than your average non-religious person. Indeed, I find myself writing about subjects that aren’t precisely religious in nature, but do overlap with religious issues, or are explored by theologians and ministers.

And one of my favorite contemplative computing talks took place at a Buddhist monastery in upstate New York.

Talking about contemplative computing

Nothing like an audience of thousands of divinities to call out your A game!

So perhaps speaking the Westerkerk will offer a chance to reflect a bit on the religious or spiritual dimensions of rest (what a rich topic!), and at least note the degree to which rest has been seen not just as a respite or idleness, but as an opportunity for restoration and common with the divine– turning it from the absence of work into a time with its own purpose, a purpose that we often forget in our more secular world.

Too often we see rest as either disposable (which it’s not), or just as a negative space defined by the absence of work– which it shouldn’t be. Thinking of it this way impoverishes rest, and reduces our appreciation of its potential and value to us. Arguably, observance of the Sabbath provided a framework for experiencing rest as valuable, and the retreat of religious observance has left us in need of a new foundation for making sense of rest in our lives.

“Work less, sleep better” at the School of Life, Amsterdam

So this is what I’m doing on November 23: appearing at The School of Life in Amsterdam, in an event titled “Work less – Sleep better.”

The Dutch translation of REST will be out that week, so I’ll be in the Netherlands to support the book.

I’m one of two speakers; the other will be Ysbrand van der Werf, a neuroscientist at the Spinoza Institute who has a new book coming out on sleep.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam, except to change planes at Schipol Airport, so this will be fun!

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