“The more space we give to stillness and silence, the more we have to give both to ourselves and to others” – Thich Nhat Hahn

“A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare” – W.H. Davies

The late Thich Nhat Hahn was a wise person indeed. He could see that the world with all of its rushing and busyness was not a rewarding place. There is a significant amount of research that suggests that the way we are living our lives, with speed and urgency to achieve the next thing, to rush to the next challenge, and to have what everyone else has, is making us ill.

The sociologist Harmut Rosa has recently developed a theory which proposes the metaphor of being on an escalator trying to get to the top yet the escalator is moving downwards. It is taking all of our effort just to stand still. This post is offering you an opportunity to reflect and think about your own life and where you are on the escalator. Are you running fast to stand still? Positive psychology offers us helpful guidance on how to connect rather than run.


Wanting more, conquering all

Rosa (2020) proposes that we are in a state of social acceleration. To be able to stand still we have to aim for more: More money, more growth, more qualifications, more technology to list just a few. For consumer businesses to stay profitable they need to continue to sell to the population. Inventing more things we don’t need, convincing us we must keep doing more and buying more. Here we are on the hedonic treadmill of life!

If we listen to our words we also will note we use a language of aggression. We want to conquer a mountain, overcome a challenge, and make something fit our needs. We consume the world as though it is something we have to tame, to make it do what we want it to. According to Rosa, this is creating alienation between us and the world. We are losing our connection to it.



In Rosa’s work, resonance is when we achieve a balance between being open to the world without judgement, and the world ‘reaching’ us in some way. These are the moments in life when we feel an internal bliss, a feeling that all is well or something in that moment is just right. We cannot force this moment to occur. The more we try and create the moment the further away it moves.


Awe, Savouring, and Appreciation

Awe is a growing area of research which is interested in understanding the complex emotions involved in that feeling of utter amazement and a sense of immense wonder and appreciation. Like resonance, we cannot guarantee a moment of awe, but by noticing and savouring the world around us we offer up the opportunity to connect to it in some way. Being open to whatever you might encounter will increase your chances of experiencing awe.

Savouring is another way of experiencing the world in an appreciative way. When positive moments arrive, it requires us to stay in that moment and experience all of it. We can also savour the past and think about the awe moments we have had, or savour the future and build up our positive association towards something that will occur. Of course, expecting something to bring us awe of resonance will not work. It will be what it will be and we have to accept that.



How often have you been still? Really still and quiet within as well as outside of yourself? Part of our alienation with the world is our inability to stop and just be. We don’t need to do anything, have a purpose, or expect anything from the moment. The process of being still is hard for many people to do but one that brings with it many rewards. If we are to ever see a sight that brings us awe, or to really and truly appreciate a moment of savouring, we need to still ourselves. Still our bodies and still our minds. Sit somewhere and allow the moment to bring to you what it wants you to see and hear. Really be in that space and expect nothing but your own stillness. Let your mind wander, your gaze move about, and be open to whatever confronts you.



It is getting harder to find a place where silence is truly present. Silence is underrated in our society with fast-action entertainment. The complete silence that generations before us would have heard as a normal part of their life is no longer accessible to many of us. Would we want that complete silence anyway? Just reducing the noise around you can make a vast difference to your wellbeing. Or being silent yourself and simply listening to the world around you. Find a spot that you feel gives you a bit of silence, put on noise-cancelling headphones, or just listen to whatever the world is sharing with you.


Try it for yourself

Have a think about whether you have given yourself enough time to be still and silent. Try it for a short time. See how different it feels to the usual rushing and action you deal with daily. Allow that escalator to travel down to the bottom. Stop trying to get to the top. Just ‘be’ wherever the escalator takes you.

I’ll end with another wise mystic, Osho, who said:

“In your silence, where there are no words, no language, nobody else is present, you are getting in tune with your existence” – Osho

Recommended Reading

Bryant, F.B. & Veroff, J. (2006). Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience. Psychology Press

Osho. (2012). Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness through Meditation. Macmillan

Rosa, H. (2020). The Uncontrollability of the World. Polity Press

Thich Nhat Hanh. (2015). Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise. HarperOne

Trip, P.D. (2015). Awe: Why it Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do. Good News Publishers


Read more about Lisa Jones and her other articles HERE


‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’


Find out more about positive psychology courses and training at 

Share This