Book Summary: Trying Not to Try by Edward Slingerland

Trying Not to Try by Edward Slingerland Book Cover

In “Trying Not to Try,” Edward Slingerland introduces readers to the concept of “wuwei,” a Chinese idea that translates to “effortless action” or “non-striving.” The book explores how this idea can be applied to modern life and how it can help us achieve success and fulfillment without sacrificing our well-being.

Chapter 1: The Paradox of Effortless Action

In the first chapter, Slingerland explains the paradox of effortless action and how it differs from the Western concept of striving and self-improvement. He argues that wuwei is not about laziness or passivity, but rather about finding a balance between effort and non-effort that allows us to achieve our goals without becoming overly stressed or burnt out.

Chapter 2: The Roots of Wuwei in Ancient China

In this chapter, Slingerland delves into the history of wuwei and how it has been practiced in China for thousands of years. He discusses the role of wuwei in Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, and how it has been used to achieve everything from spiritual enlightenment to political power.

Chapter 3: The Science of Effortless Action

Slingerland introduces the concept of “flow” and how it relates to effortless action. He cites research on flow and other related concepts such as “choking” and “optimal experience” to show how effortless action can lead to peak performance and fulfillment.

Chapter 4: The Art of Non-Striving

In this chapter, Slingerland explores how wuwei can be applied to various aspects of life, including work, relationships, and personal growth. He offers practical advice on how to cultivate effortless action in daily life and how to overcome obstacles that may arise.

Chapter 5: The Power of Non-Striving

In the final chapter, Slingerland reflects on the power of effortless action and how it can help us achieve success and fulfillment without sacrificing our well-being. He argues that wuwei is not just a Chinese concept, but a universal one that can be applied to any culture or belief system.

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Conclusion

Overall, “Trying Not to Try” is a thought-provoking book that challenges readers to rethink their approach to success and fulfillment. By introducing the concept of effortless action, Slingerland offers a fresh perspective on how we can achieve our goals without sacrificing our well-being. Whether you’re looking to improve your personal life or your professional life, “Trying Not to Try” is a must-read for anyone who wants to achieve success without stress.

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