The Art of Serenity: Finding Solitude In A Busy World


in Make Money, Uncategorized

(This article was written in October, during the solo portion of my trip. I lived in the Utah desert for 28 days, with no backpack, tent, sleeping bag, or technology)

“But nothing will help quite so much as just keeping quiet, talking with other people as little as possible, with yourself as much as possible.” – Letters From A Stoic, CV

I haven’t seen another human being in five days.

As I write this letter, I’m sitting on a creekside in Escalante Natio9nal Monument in Southern Utah. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and insects are buzzing all around me.

I’ve never been more productive in my life.

It’s not everyday that we get a chance to break away. There are distractions at every twist and turn, from family to friends to Facebook. Your cellphone is always buzzing, your notification window is always chiming, there is always something that wants your attention.

Just stop.

Is this who you really are? Or who you want to be? A lab rat who voraciously clicks on every incoming message, who ferociously reads every new email as soon as it arrives, regardless of whether it is important or not.

Just stop.

I’ve spent years trying to break out of unproductive habits online. I’ve installed RescueTime, Pomodoro timers, auto responders on my emails: you name it, I’ve done it.

Yet nothing manages to keep me away from distractions. Even going to a cafe with just a notebook ends up with a wasted day of checking my phone or talking with random cafe patrons.


Right now, five days into my solo experience in the Utah desert, I’m far, far, far more productive than I’ve ever been. I’ve written 2500 words a day, all while living in a cave and fashioning fire with two sticks.
It takes extreme measures to break extreme bad habits.

Ask yourself—when was the last time you were really alone in solitude? When was the last time you found yourself alone in nature, with no cell phone and no computer, for more than a couple days?

I now know how much life, nature, beauty, and productivity I’ve been missing by living glued to a screen.

Do you?

Just stop. Here is my advice to you: plan a 3 day, 2 night trip. If you’ve got it in you, go camping alone, with no cell phone and no computer. If that’s not your style, book a hotel and go there. Resist the urge to call others. Stay alone, stay in solitude.

Try spending time alone, really really alone, for the first time in your life. You might be surprised what you find.

“Let us act on this, then, wholeheartedly. Let us cut out all distractions and work away at this alone for fear that otherwise we may be left behind and only eventually realize one day the swiftness of the passage of this fleeting phenomenon, time, which we are powerless to hold back.” -Letters From A Stoic, CVIII


Kate October 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Somebody linked to this on FB and I’m always interested in “stoicism,” mainly being disciplined and enduring pain in daily life. The need to actually leave town and go camp alone in order to be productive seems kind of nuts to me, but maybe it’s because I already live a life of self-imposed solitude. Even though I have a Mac, a PC, an iPhone and an iPad at hand as we speak (and three phone lines) I use them, instead of the other way around. I don’t need to be physically away from them to stop handling them. I work full-time from a home office and my work requires intense concentration for 2-3 hours at a time, then I take breaks. I discourage personal calls during workdays, which cuts out lots of interference. I don’t play music in the background, never have the TV on, etc. I work in total silence. I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood. It’s as serene outdoors as indoors. My environment is rich and deep in silence and solitude and it’s not hard to achieve without leaving civilization.


Tanuja August 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Maneesh, I know this is an old post, but I just noticed it now and it really struck a chord with me.

You are younger than me (I think) and you’re so lucky to have discovered the importance of solitude early in life. Over the past 6 months or so, I have really given myself the chance to be alone and quiet and the results are amazing. I’ve never been happier, more confident or more intuitive than I am now.

Of course, I haven’t been able to completely break away like you’re suggesting here – mostly because of fear (completely disconnecting from everyone and everything scares me just a little). But, I am planning to give myself a little vacation next year and try it out.

When I was little, I was lucky enough to have parents who took my sister and me on vacations in nature. Of course, we stayed in hotels, but the best vacations I remember were the ones to the Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole was seriously one of the best and that’s where I want to escape to next year for 2 days.

Thanks so much for the inspiration and all the great push-ups! :-)



Marc July 14, 2012 at 7:07 am

I have my own eccentric way of finding serenity. I like to combine gymnastic balance with hiking in the woods. I try to hone my sense of balance by walking on fallen trees, branches, and logs. I often bushwhack through swamps and cross streams by balancing on logs, some no larger than 2 or 3 inches in diameter. It is both relaxing and mind focusing at the same time. It is also somewhat dangerous. I’ve been doing this for two years. I do think I’m almost as good as the circus performers. I’ve thought of setting up a balance beam and tight rope in my back yard but that is too boring. Kind of a weird comment I know but I think it’s still on topic with this post.


maneesh July 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Have you ever checked out Mov Nat?


Marc July 15, 2012 at 8:06 am

Thanks for that. So there are other people who do this sort of thing. I’m more specialized in balance work. I want to be a “Wallenda of the woods”.

I get varying reactions from others. Some like to watch, some pretend I’m not there, and a few women have turned around and walked back the way they came. My unorthodox behavior must have triggered their internal stranger danger alarm.


gabriel k January 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm

ok, i know thats a shitty comment but its better than not writing it at all.
i like that. thats it. i want more content to think about. wish i found ur blog earlier.


Dilanka Wettewa November 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm

This is incredibly difficult to implement. I think we will reach a point where most of us will be literally so lost within the noise that it will be almost impossible to escape the bullshit of everyday life.

Is it important? Abso-fuckin-loutly. I think it all comes down to how the filter in which you view the world through is constructed. IE: what is your perspective/model as far as how the world operates? Go to Africa / Liberia or some other under-privileged fucked up place and you will see how unbelievably, insanely lucky you are.

Alone time is crucial. Meditation is even better. If you don’t want to / cannot go camping alone like Maneesh recommends, I recommend you try the Isolation Tank/Float Tank for ultimate self reflection.

Bon Voyage.
Thanks for the post Maneesh.


maneesh November 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm


First of all, thanks for your comments. They are always so well thought out and make me think about my writing. Your comments are definitely influencing my posts :)

It is difficult to implement only because we’ve MADE it difficult to implement. It really isn’t hard. Why should it be hard to go outside for a day and not use the computer? Because we have built a lifestyle of bad habits—realistically, we are designed to move around, not to sit on a computer all day.

Hope you can convince yourself to go outside today:)


Dilanka Wettewa November 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Hey Dude!

I agree that we have made it difficult to implement and that it’s not hard, but I think there is a bigger issue at hand here. Reward Systems.

People like sex because it feels good. (chemically in your brain). Same with money because it is a means of getting other things (house, car, other pleasurable things) that makes your life easier.

Modern day technology has sort of short-circuited this entire system.

Centuries ago, in the Savannah (you had a simulation of this by spending time in Utah — which is fantastic) we had to literally walk/run miles to EARN a 500-600 calories meal – and even then, it was comprised of healthy nutrients. We only had a few variables to worry about. (finding food, mating, avoiding danger) Now, we can go through a drive through and gobble up a pile of 5000K empty/junk calories in a matter of minutes AND considering the fact that we are built to take the path of least resistance our reward systems get re-wired.
(at least that’s my theory)

So, if we have literally re-defined our reward systems (subconsciously and gradually) to expend as much energy as possible in making money a top priority (simply because everything else is somehow connected to it in someway – especially when you throw in kids, wife, car, all sorts of b.s into the mix) – sitting on a computer actually makes sense. Strange huh?

I personally don’t like it, but it seems like it’s a natural progression of society – which is why I appreciate you bringing this type of shit up :) it makes my mind happy.

Oh by the way, have you tried getting inside a Isolation Tank? I think it’s EASILY up your alley and you would enjoy it immensely. If you are in San Francisco, Float Matrix is a solid spot:

Thanks Maneesh!
Dilanka :)


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