Leadership lessons from Confucius: a restful sleep

restful sleep

When eating, he did not talk. When retiring to bed, he did not speak.

Put your smartphone aside when you’re about to eat your lunch and turn off the alerts so that you won’t be distracted. Nothing urgent will happen while you are eating your food. Take time to enjoy the texture and flavor even (perhaps especially) if it’s only a sandwich. Reflect on the pleasure that it brings you. Immerse yourself completely in the magic of the moment. There will be plenty of time afterwards to deal with any messages that you may have received during the course of it.

Put your smartphone aside half an hour before you go to bed. Your mind is still full of the stuff that you’ve consumed from it during the day. It will take a while to process it all and dial down the anger and frustration you feel at the stupidity and vapidity of the world around you. Take time to savor the power of the visual and auditory silence. Let your mind wander in directions that it’s usually far too busy and wound up to explore. The more you make a habit of this, the greater the likelihood that it will take you to places of tranquility and understating that you’ve never been to before – not to mention put you in the right mood to enjoy a long and restful sleep.


This article features a translation of Chapter 10 of Book 10 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 10 here.

(1) The key point of this passage is that Confucius concentrated solely on the activity at hand and didn’t allow himself to be distracted.

I took this image at the Temple of Confucius in Yilan, Taiwan.

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