“The ultimate point of all our frenetic doing might be to experience more wonder. – Oliver Burkeman

I cleaned out my email inbox this past week. While I was deleting hundreds of accumulated messages, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts: “No Small Endeavor.”

The guest on the show was Oliver Burkeman, the author of “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.” An insightful quote from his book caught my attention:

“The world is bursting with wonder, and yet it’s the rare productivity guru who seems to have considered the possibility that the ultimate point of all our frenetic doing might be to experience more of that wonder.”

Burkeman and the host, Lee C. Camp, delved into a fascinating topic – the cycle that we often find ourselves in when we efficiently tackle tasks, only to find ourselves filling the newly created space with even more tasks.

The conversation really got interesting when Camp brought up a concept from a previous interview with theologian Rebecca DeYoung. She presented a unique perspective on the concept of sloth, traditionally associated with laziness. Instead, she viewed sloth as inattention to more important matters – relationships, life’s little miracles, and the deeper meanings that shape our existence.

Burkeman chimed in with an intriguing insight from a Buddhist tradition, where busyness can be seen as a form of laziness. 


By constantly engaging in a flurry of activity, we might miss out on the profound act of simply being and appreciating the world around us.

This concept struck a chord with me. I closed the lid of my laptop and went for a walk. I thought of a time when I lived with Contemplative Carmelite Nuns in Alhambra, CA, and encountered the clash between their contemplative stillness and the modern drive for ceaseless productivity. It’s a delicate balance – finding room for both mindful presence and purposeful action. And that was 1997 – long before smartphones and the internet. 

In today’s fast-paced world, maintaining productivity while making space for moments of wonder can be challenging, especially for those juggling parenting, work, and numerous commitments. With technology and entertainment at our fingertips, we often replace quiet contemplation with constant stimulation.

And then, suddenly, we realize that a substantial portion of our 4,000 weeks has slipped away.

Have we truly taken in the wonders? How often have we been inattentive to what truly matters, sacrificing balance for busyness?

The next morning, as I was reviewing materials for teaching my Wellness Coaching Course, I was reminded of the Ayurvedic approach to balancing everything in life – including nutrition. A satisfying meal is balanced and nourishing, a fulfilling life strikes a harmony between productivity and appreciation. As we fill our days with meaningful actions and pause to notice the miracles around us, we pave the way for deep satisfaction.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this delicate dance between productivity and wonder. How do you find your balance? Do you often catch yourself on the path of busyness or the path of contemplation/meditation? 

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