top of page
  • Writer's pictureReflective Resources

Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity by Edward Slingerland Book Suggestion

Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity is a deeply original exploration of the power of spontaneity—an ancient Chinese ideal that cognitive scientists are only now beginning to understand—and why it is so essential to our well-being

In Trying Not To Try, 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 been taught 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. (See previous post on Zhuangzi) Slingerland shows how new research reveals what’s happening in the brain when we’re in a state of wu-wei—why it makes us happy and effective and trustworthy, and how it might have even made civilization possible.


In Trying Not To Try, Edward Slingerland blends Eastern thought and cutting-edge science to show us how we can live more fulfilling lives. Trying Not To Try is mind-expanding and the perfect antidote to our striving modern culture.

If you are interested in listening to more about this idea. You might like to listen to this TED Talk Trying Not to Try: the Power of Spontaneity | Edward Slingerland | TEDxMaastricht

4 views0 comments


bottom of page