Reflections on Kate Murphy’s article, “No Time to Think” in the NYTimes, Sunday Review, July 27, 2014

Kate Murphy, a regular contributor to the NYTimes on social-cultural matters, started her phone interview with me by saying she was stunned to learn that 83% of people would rather give themselves a shock than spend time in quiet self-reflection. What is this, she asked, and I was glad we could talk about the deep anxieties people experience today that are both generated, and covered up by, a speedy pace that eliminates any possibility of self-reflection.

SPEED – always going faster and faster — lets you falsely believe that you are seeking the American dream of success, that you can have it all, and there will be no costs. Just keep going. Don’t stop to think, don’t question. You’ll be left behind if you pause a moment for self-reflection. There’s the cost!

I talked with her about addiction as a three-pronged necklace: out-of-control behavior, constricted or wild emotions and distorted thinking. The thinking tells us that action is all there is, which leads to a nation of impulse-dominated people, behaving like four-year olds on the playground.

One of the key mantras I restate throughout the book is: Pause, Ask yourself “what am I doing?” Take a breath. Reflect. Without a working capacity for, and value of, self-reflection, we truly abdicate self responsibility.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Kate Murphy’s article, “No Time to Think” in the NYTimes, Sunday Review, July 27, 2014

  1. Stephanie Brown

    Dear Ms. Livingston:

    Thank you for your kind comments and your reflections on speed in your life. I am sorry you have had a brain injury, yet it still sounds like you can appreciate many good parts of life. You also capture the feeling that is so rampant in our culture — sitting at a red light is just too long. So many people are poised in the ready-position to GO, to pounce, to hit that green light and they don’t slow down at all.

    I hope you find peace and serenity. Thank you for taking the time to write.

    Best, Stephanie Brown

  2. jana livingston

    i like what you say and how you say it – i have read a book of yours that i found quite profound- sober- i have since had a barin injury and i remember blurbs- and your name= so whatveber it was- it was good-~~~~soo the reason im responding- is i felt that – some of what you have gifted me- has really helped to heal my family- and even me!
    it is clearly a longer story- but i will always read what you have going on-
    i spent some time doing a ‘vision quest’ which is crying for a vision on a mountain and there us a 24 7 fire- and it takes quite a few people to put people on the hill= but reflection- mmmmmi have seen how iff people cabn get with WHO THEY THINK THEY ARE- the beauty of ‘being in the hill’ is amazing- and i lately- am feeling like every red light is 15 minues long= ot i look at the clock at 11;11 or 333= day or night-
    im quite sure that there is an element of light and beauty
    that you bring to the tabl
    goin to chile to see my son and his girlfriend whom i have not yet met-
    hoping to be a grandma=peace

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