NOW Live Events

Participant Spotlight: Oliver Burkeman

Oliver Burkeman

Oliver Burkeman is a journalist for the Guardian and a writer based in New York. His new book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking explores the upsides of negativity, uncertainty, failure and imperfection. He blogs about things for Guardian US and writes a monthly column for Psychologies magazine.

Oliver’s Past Events with NOW
At Wilderness Festival (August 2014)

Psychologies columnist Oliver Burkeman and Psychologies editor Suzy Greaves will lead a practical workshop in how to bottle the spirit of the Wilderness Festival by finding time for play, nature, solitude in the chaos of everyday life.

After a few relaxing days in the countryside comes the ‘holiday hangover’, the gloomy realisation that it’s time to get back to the daily grind. But what if that wasn’t inevitable? What if you could bottle the spirit of an event like NOW Live Events, and use it to find breathing space amid the responsibilities of work, family, and city living? In this event, we’ll explore:

• How to carve out time for play (and banish the feeling that you ought to be working instead)

• How to immerse yourself in wild nature in the heart of the city

• How to use the rhythms of time and attention to find space and quiet in a hyper-busy world

2 Minute Interview for Wilderness 2014:

How does your event relate to being in the NOW?

It’s about trying to preserve that sense of “being in the moment” beyond a special event like NOW and into the bustle of daily life.

What are you most looking forward to doing within your slot at NOW?

I plan events like this in quite a lot of detail, but it’s almost always the unplanned parts that are the most intriguing, entertaining or memorable, so the official answer is I don’t know what I’m looking forward to most.

Any tips on how the audience can most benefit from your event? 

Just show up! And perhaps don’t spend the whole time checking Twitter and text messages.

At Wilderness Festival (August 2013):

We’re told we need to “live in the moment” or “be here now”, and it’s clearly a much better approach to happiness than imagining that happiness lies somewhere in the future (which never actually seems to arrive). But how, exactly, are we supposed to go about it? I’ll talk about my adventures among Buddhists, New Age gurus and others, and discuss my own attempts to live in the now. I’ll focus especially on the topics of attention and distraction.There’s arguably nothing more important than attention: what you pay attention to, after all, ends up becoming your life. But many of us feel that our attention spans are getting ever shorter, and that our smartphones and iPads may be to blame. Can we seize back our power of attention? Must we spurn technology in order to do so, or can it help us in the task?

2 Minute Interview for Wilderness 2013:

How does your talk at NOW Festival relate to being in the moment?

I’m addressing the subject head-on. We talk as if “being in the moment” is a simple thing – or at least it would be if we weren’t so busy and stressed. But when you actually try to do it, it’s all too easy to become distracted by the attempt. (Anxiously asking yourself “Am I living in the moment?”, over and over again, would seem to be missing the point.) I’m fascinated by the question of how we can really manage it, and especially whether technology might be able to help us rather than hinder.

Do you have any tips on how the audience can best benefit from your talk at NOW Festival?

Do absolutely nothing whatsoever to prepare! Seriously. Though I suppose you could read Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Island’ if you want, or Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’… / @oliverburkeman