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The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction
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The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  189 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Professor Forni, founder of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, isAmerica's civility expert.In his first two books, Choosing Civility and The Civility Solution, he taught readers therules of civil behavior andways ofresponding to rudeness.Now, in The Thinking Life, helooks at the importance of thinking in our lives: how we do it, why we don't do enough of it and why ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by St. Martin's Press
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P.M. Forni recommends disconnecting from the internet for 3 hrs a day, at minimum & to make a daily appointment with yourself to reflect and focus only on thought, stop multi-tasking, stop over scheduling, stop answering "how are you?" with "busy", to focus on doing things right the first time, to stop entertaining ourselves / chronically avoiding our own minds

To this, I'm all ears.

"Every day, millions go to work predisposed to endure and leery to commit, which is just about the worst possi
2.5 stars. I have several issues with this book. But first, let me start with the (scant) praise. In The Thinking Life, Forni offers practical suggestions for thinking when we are constantly overwhelmed by pressure to do the opposite. I was especially intrigued by his description of the shifting historical usages of leisure time. While many of us associate leisure with recreation and pleasure, that connotation is relatively recent. Back in the day, leisure time denoted time away from work that w ...more
Chris Aldrich
While some might categorize this as a "self-help" or "business" book, it's really a broader reaching thesis which is perfect for almost any reader. It's both a descriptive as well as prescriptive manual for the human thinking machine. Similar to his previous two excellent must-read books on civility (Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct and The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude), this is a well-written, clear, and concise text whose aim is the noble go ...more
I bought this book after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. I had high hopes for this book. I was drawn to the idea of a productive thinking life, as opposed to the non-productive, anxiety-ridden, ADD type thinking I frequently engage in. Honestly, I've been trying to read it for a couple of months, and I just can't power through it. I find this book to be almost preachy in its tone. There are some broad generalizations about generations lacking self-control. There are also assumptions ...more
Hannah Emery
I found this book thought-provoking, in part because I completely agree with the author's premise that contemporary people (particularly millennials, a group of which I count myself among the leading edge) spend too much time in mindless distracting pursuits -- the particular targets of his wrath are Internet browsing and social media, but you could make the same general argument for TV Tropes, newsfeeds, binging on mindless TV or spending your day with your iPod earbuds in. Forni suggests that ...more
Ramesh Prabhu
Nuggets of wisdom from a gem of a book -- (The Reading Room)
I was pretty disappointed with this book overall - it has some interesting moments, but not enough to redeem it in my eyes. The author seems to spend a lot of time denigrating the current generation, technology, movies and tv, and pretty much anything else he can think of that isn't pure thought and meditation. The thing is, you simply cannot survive in this world without being immersed in popular culture, in social activities, etc. For example:

"He [Michael Phelps, after being caught on camera w
"....Insights can be prepared for by encouraging an imagination playful to the point of recklessness along with a sort of experimental fervor that follows hypothesis out as if it were truth---but lets it go once revealed as error. It also helps to cultivate a healthy distrust of authority, and a restless, ranging curiosity----not so much an anarchic spirit as the flexible feel for law that tricksters (in the tradition of Odysseus) have." Robert and Ellen Kaplan

"Can people be taught to become ous
Sheli Ellsworth
Do you spend every waking moment either on your phone, computer or watching television? If you do, you may be missing out on what John Hopkins Professor, P.M. Forni, describes as “the first necessary step toward life’s elusive grand prize—true happiness.” In //The Thinking Life,// Forni extols the virtues of introspection and reflection as the process by which we learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. In an age where every waking minute is spent on competing technology, the art of t ...more
This book was challenging in a good way. I was encouraged to be a more intentionally thoughtful person rather that a reactively thoughtful person. The book suffered from a lack of focus though. Several times he would apply topics to business situations that weren't introduced in that context and then sweep along to talking about personal relationships and then to a persons interior life. It left me wondering what kind of book I was reading. It wasn't the best written book. I enjoyed how the auth ...more
Barrette Plett
I was really captivated by the beginning, and pulled out a number of salient quotes. After the first 40 pages, or so, however, I felt it kind of lost momentum. Now I'm stuck trying to decide whether to buy a copy (I read one from the library) so that I can sit with it and digest it and do the response questions (as was my inclination at the beginning), or whether the first 40 pages really justify the investment...
Steve H
There are a lot of good elements to this book, but the text could use some editing to improve organization, tie ideas together, and sustain the overall argument of the book, which in its present form gets somewhat diffused. This is a cross between self-help (How to thrive in an age of distraction) and unsupported advice and platitudes. The author frequently refers to and recommends striving for "the good life," but doesn't really define the concept other than to repeat some ancient greek adages ...more
If I am anything, I am a thinking woman. If I am anything, I am TOO introspective, to the point of anxiety and fear, etc. So many things in this book I already do, and so many other things in this book just led me to have more anxiety. Like, oh no! I think a lot, but my thinking time could be so much more PRODUCTIVE or something.
Which i suppose it could, but really. really. this book was not for me. I have been kind of pretending to read it every once in awhile for a couple months now, but I am
Mark Pare
Not a bad book but it does have a very judgemental overall tone to it. The book languishes in several spots where the author seems to have an axe to grind. As a civility advocate this comes through several times in certain spots to the detriment of the book.

Just not a great read. One man's opinion.
Jennifer Stringer
I heard the author on NPR and thought it was an interesting interview. A lot of the advice seems fairly obvious, but it's surprising when you think about it how "multi-tasking" has crept into so many aspects of life. The book breaks down the different qualities required for a thoughtful life-style and ends each chapter with a list of exercises designed to cultivate a more thoughtful life. Not wanting to take the time, I didn't do any of them. (Yes, I recognize the irony)Many involved writing or ...more
This book was shared with me by one of our Media Specialists in my high school. I returned it on the last day of school, but only after ordering my own copy on Amazon.

A person once accused me of 'thinking too much.' I found both the statement and the person really stupid(!). Over the years, though, I've often wondered why people don't (appear to) think more....

Then there are my high school students. Asking them to THINK is like pulling teeth. Dr. Forni helps me understand why. His ideas confirm
this little volume would't convince anyone to join the world of thinkers. It's too philosophic in tone and quite dry. Makes the point that we are over stimulated to death by information and most modern people would be healthier to take ten minutes to look at their toes. Nothing new about that opinion. I know people who couldn't remain silent for ten minutes if you paid them. Not mentioning any names.
I really don't worry about the technical overfunctioning of today's young people. They'll get ti
I read about a 1/3 of this book and then I put it down and never felt inclined to pick it back up. Finally, I was forced to finish because it was due at the library. I enjoyed the ideas that Forni broached. I especially enjoyed the chapters on positive thinking and being a thoughtful person. There is a lot to be said (or thought) for the ideas he proposed. People do spend too much time rushing around without considering their actions or words. All of could benefit from a more thoughtful approach ...more
Marci Stone
The thought behind this book is interesting. We don't learn how to think or are not taught how. We just move from one decision to another. Spending time thinking about what we want and then consistently thinking about how to get it is powerful. After expressing those thoughts though...the book loses steam. It becomes more of an overall this is how you should live your life and this is what you should be thinking about.
Scottsdale Public Library
Life is A Balancing Act

I read “The Thinking Life: How To Thrive In The Age of Distraction”. P.M. Forni dispenses nuggets of wisdom on the rewards of disconnecting from too much social media, the internet, and smart-phones (who is the smart one?). And do what? Take time to reconnect with yourself, thrive and improve your quality of life through attention, reflection, proactive and creative thinking to name but a few. A timely and engaging book. Hit the pause button on your gadgets and take a time
There's nothing radically new about the concepts in this book, but it's a quick read and worth the reminder. Well written. Here's a small sample, "the thoughtful take genuine pleasure in making others feel good about themselves. They are validators. chances are that when they build others up, sooner or later they enjoy some form of reciprocity. People can't help liking those who valikdate them, and they want to make them part of their lives." Simple, but powerful reminders of how to be survive i ...more
Dianne Oliver
some nice quotes and thoughts on putting down our distractions, and really focusing in on our thought life. he gave some interesting ideas of where and how to begin this process. some things were basic, but we are so inundated with media and rarely give serious thought to our lives that I found this to be a good reminder. I would recommend this for parents wanting ammo and cause/effect for their limiting phones and social networking. It is current, but also refers often to the ancients.
Bonnie Irwin
Many parts of this thoughtful little book are worthy 5 stars--recommendations to unplug, reflect, think before acting or speaking, etc. But some of the self-help suggestions are rather elementary. I like the way the author starts and ends with Marcus Aurelius. We can still learn a lot from our ancient forbears. I plan to use part of this books, especially ideas about engaging and living in the present with students this fall.
There is definitely good food for thought in here, and the questions at the end of each chapter fuel things further, but...there's something missing here. I finished the book a moment ago - perhaps if I took time to reflect before posting this review (already I am bucking his suggestions) then I could elucidate this gap. In any case, being a short book, with pockets of insight, I do recommend it - just enough.
Bill Lalonde
If you can get past the way the author seems to assume that every reader is an upper middle class manager, this is a solid if slim tome advocating for a more thoughtful life. At times it seems too dismissive of the utility of emotions, but given the premise this is a reasonable reaction to the excessive affective diarrhea that captures the modern zeitgeist.
Dave Wilson
This is an inspiring little book in the vein of "Think and Grow Rich". Not only is it filled with observations and insights about how searching for information has replaced the art of thinking, it also has many useful checkpoints and exercises to get back to thinking and avoiding some of the distractions we have grown to love in the 21st century.
May 21, 2013 K.m. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: guide
A good core idea, that it would be universally beneficial for each of us to engage in productive introspection. Forni covers topics such as decision making, attention, proactive, and creative thinking--all good to cultivate, he's just not the most interesting writer and does occasionally slip into preach-mode. Not groundbreaking, but useful.
This book was pretty uneven for me. There were parts of this book that I really liked and other parts that I didn't care for at all. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I did particularly like the sections on finding time to think, nurturing outstanding thinking and choosing to be thoughtful.
Marcia Chapman
I really enjoyed this book which mostly reinforced how I already view life but it inspired me to work harder.
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Dr. Pier Massimo Forni is a professor in the Department of Germanic and Romance Languages and Literatures, Johns Hopkins University. In 1997 he co-founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, an aggregation of academic and community outreach activities that is aimed at assessing the significance of civility, manners and politeness in contemporary society. It has been reconstituted as The Civility I ...more
More about P.M. Forni...
Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude

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