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The Thinking Life

How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction

P. M. Forni

St. Martin's Griffin

The Thinking Life Download image

ISBN10: 0312625723
ISBN13: 9780312625726

Trade Paperback

192 Pages



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Professor Forni, founder of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, is America's civility expert. In his first two books, Choosing Civility and The Civility Solution, he taught readers the rules of civil behavior and ways of responding to rudeness. Now, in The Thinking Life, he looks at the importance of thinking in our lives: how we do it, why we don't do enough of it and why we need to do more of it.

In twelve short chapters, he gives readers a remedy for the Age of Distraction, an age fuelled by the internet, Blackberries and cellphones, all of which make constant demands on our attention, diverting it from one thing to another. After suggesting ways we can find time to think more, Forni shows readers how we can improve our abilities of:

—Positive thinking
—Proactive thinking
—Effective decision-making strategies
—Creative thinking
—Problem-solving strategies

Just as Forni did with civility, he puts the importance of good thinking front and center in a book as simple and as profound as his earlier works.


Praise for The Thinking Life

"Being highly educated and extraordinarily decorated does not necessarily translate into good thinking. But if a Nobel Prize were awarded for gracious self-control, Professor Forni would be the proper judge. As with Choosing Civility and The Civility Solution, The Thinking Life serves well to refine even the most intransigent of us. Having just finished the book, I growled at my college-age daughter when she announced that her friends would visit our home late this evening. Then it immediately dawned on me that I was guilty of disobeying Professor Forni's thoughtful guidelines. Fortunately my heartfelt apology was accepted. And for penance, I promise to think first next time."—Peter Agre, Winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

"The Thinking Life is the most provocative and useful book I've read in years. As I traveled through it, Professor Forni gave me ideas about how to become more thoughtful, made me feel guilty, annoyed me with his grumpiness, and inspired me with his wit and optimism. You probably won't agree with everything in this book, but that is part of its brilliance: Forni's compels you to live The Thinking Life as you devour his little gem."—Robert Sutton, Stanford Professor and author of New York Times bestsellers Good Boss, Bad Boss and The No Asshole Rule

"I am always interested in what Dr. Forni has to say about becoming more civil, and this book talks about how much harder it is when we're constantly on our cell phones, Blackberries, Twitter and Facebook . . . Dr. Forni says serious thinking leads to the good life . . . and I am listening with both ears."—Gayle King

"An eloquent introduction on how to lead a more conscientious, thoughtful life."—Ben Casnocha, author of My Start-Up Life

"Urgently needed and compellingly readable."—Katrina Kenison, author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day

"Forni encourages the pursuit of thinking in an age when 'serious thinking is often the illustrious casualty in the digital revolution.' The author explores dependency on modern technology and its associated problems but primarily focuses on the greater value of thinking. He argues against those who write off the lost art of pondering, revealing the reality of wasted time and providing practical suggestions on how to create space in busy lives. He addresses multitasking as 'our attempt to do the maximum amount of things in the shortest amount of time with the minimum amount of thinking.' To illustrate his ideas, Forni effectively blends a combination of ideas from classical and modern philosophers, myth, current events and personal anecdotes. He chides parents and schools for not properly instructing the next generation in how to make good decisions, and how this is detrimental to society at large: 'I wish I could tell you that I had the good fortune of undergoing a solid home training in decision making, but I did not. I wish that just one of my teachers had managed to impress upon me and my schoolmates that being happy depends upon making sound decisions.' A deft exploration that urges us to think before speaking."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Why You Don't Think and Why You Should


—Maggie Jackson



About the author

P. M. Forni

Dr. P.M. Forni (1951-2018) was an award-winning professor of Italian Literature at Johns Hopkins University. In 2000 he founded The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins and taught courses on the theory and history of manners. He is the author of Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct (2002) and The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude (2008). Reports on his work have appeared on The New York Times, The Times of London, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times. He has been a on a number of radio and television shows, including ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Sunday Morning and BBC's Outlook. He lived in Baltimore, Maryland.

P. M. Forni

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