About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
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March 20, 2006

An Effortless Effort (Wu-wei)

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Posted by Zack Lynch

We all work hard at what we do, yet some of us seem to be continually moving forward with amazing ease while others appear to be fighting a daily grind. I am always searching for tools, ways to look at reality, through which I can obtain a higher level of continuous contentment in my never ending life-work. One perspective I've been working with lately comes from the Taoist concept of "effortless effort." A short piece in Fortune magazine last week summed it up amazingly well:

wuwei.jpegWu-wei (the state of effortless effort) describes a state in which the world seems to be working for us. We feel calm yet alert, focused yet receptive, drawing force from the storm while standing in its eye. Like the marathoner who feels pulled forward, we accomplish the most with the minimum of energy. In this state hard work does not feel like hard labor. Nor does it feel like play. It feels a lot like the Aristotelian concept of doing. Edison and his researchers felt it at Menlo Park. They didn't get much sleep, but many would later look back at the periods as the happiest of their lives. "There is no substitute for hard work," Edison said. And indeed, we go rotten without it.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues


1. Jake D on March 21, 2006 3:21 AM writes...

HI Zack, probably not coincidentally, I have been thinking quite a bit lately about wu-wei and the work of futurists. I tend to see futurists as creating conditions upon which preferred futures may emerge, as opposed to planners and strategists who have more direct goals and instrumental means.

Wu-wei, of course, is a disposition that could work well in most endeavors. I am glad it is being popularized, although I fear it is a concept that could become caricaturized rather easily.

comment-not commenting.

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2. Kensai on April 4, 2006 12:36 AM writes...

A question arises: can we teach / be teached Wu-wei?


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