Alex Soojung Pang’s book ‘Rest’ studies the way in which work and rest should coexist in equal and separate parts to improve every aspect of a person’s life. He dismisses the concept that working longer hours will improve the quality of work or produce more. Instead, he looks at historical figures who benefitted from deliberate rest to help reach important milestones as well as scientific studies showing the benefits of rest for a person’s creativity.
How can we benefit from historical figures?
The book looks at some of history’s big names such as Winston Churchill and how he managed to lead the country during a war while still having time for a daily afternoon nap. Some might say he was so productive that he had enough time to spare but Pang argues that it is the rest itself that allowed him to be more productive and creative.
As well as looking at stereotypical rest such as napping or laying on the grass and watching clouds float by, Pang is a huge believer in deliberate active rest such as competing in sports that vary from chess to mountain climbing. The book really opens your mind to the ways in which a person can rest by doing the things they enjoy and separate themselves completely from their work, yet doing this very thing can leave you coming back to work with more creative ideas as your mind has had time to subconsciously process them for you while you rest.
How has science helped us understand this broad topic?
Pang’s array of research on scientific studies revolving around rest is astounding. He provides in depth looks at so many studies conducted by famous researchers and what the outcomes actually meant. For instance, a study on the relationship between creativity and the act of walking. One would think that those walking outdoors may produce better results for a creativity test than those walking indoors yet the results were almost identical implying that simply the act of walking can stimulate creativity. These studies offer many intriguing looks into the mind and allow us to understand more about resting to be able to understand how we can use it in our daily lives.
How can I incorporate these teachings into my own life?
Due to the broad topic and the amount of case studies, there might be different solutions to resting that fit different lifestyles. For instance, Churchill may have essentially worked 2 shifts a day due to his nap while Darwin did 4 hours work in the morning, had a one hour nap, rested the remainder of the day and was still able to write the most important book in the history of science, “The Origin of Species”. If only most of us had the pleasure of a 4-hour work day. Pang suggests that a nap may not be a possibility for everyone due to typical work hours so Anthony Trollope’s approach of writing 3 hours in the morning and leaving for his day job can provide the time to focus on your passion consistently on a daily basis. “The world does not give us time for rest, we have to take it”.
My take on the ‘Rest’
I would highly recommend the book. I personally found it can open you up to the ways the mind works and recovers which can completely alter your outlook on how you should treat the two supposed ‘opposite forces’ and allow them to benefit each other. I now feel I will take much more consideration into splitting my work and my rest into focused activities which do not overlap so I can get more effective rest, which in turn can lead to better work and a more fulfilling lifestyle.