four stylish women in New York City

What do women really want? Flowers? Chocolate? Doors opened for them? To be tied up on a train track and saved in the nick of time?

Honestly, I have no idea. I have a hard enough time figuring out what I want—let alone all women on earth!

So let’s talk about something I do know about: what you want. You, apparently, want to read a blog post called “What Women Really Want.” Furthermore, it’s likely that at least some of you want to read such a blog post not because, ten minutes ago, you were thinking to yourself, “The best use of my time right now would be to read a blog post about what women really want!”—but, rather, because you saw the title and felt mildly intrigued, while also feeling disinclined to do something more cognitively demanding than clicking a link.

In other words, it’s possible that some of this post’s readers—not you, of course!—fell for the clickbait I so slyly threw out there. But, trust me, they’re not alone! I succumb to clickbait all the time. I mean, it’s called “bait” because it lures us helplessly in! Moth to a flame! Nonetheless, however you ended up here, I’m genuinely glad you did, because I want to tell you about a great book called Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

Newport dedicates three separate chapters of the book to three different ways that we can spend the free time we will acquire if we stop mindlessly clicking around on the Internet. According to Newport, these three uses of time are essential to human health and happiness, and yet are often neglected in the digital age:

  • Solitude
  • Conversation
  • Demanding activities

At this point, I’d like to share a passage from Newport’s book. It’s from his chapter on demanding activities, but, in my opinion, it applies to all three of his recommended uses of time:

“The value you receive from a pursuit is often proportional to the energy invested. We might tell ourselves there’s no greater reward after a hard day at the office than to have an evening entirely devoid of plans or commitments. But we then find ourselves, several hours of idle watching and screen tapping later, somehow more fatigued than when we began. . . . If you instead rouse the motivation to spend that same time actually doing something—even if it’s hard—you’ll likely end the night feeling better.”

Obviously, demanding activities are hard. (I’m trying to learn French at the moment, and facile isn’t exactly a word that applies.) But I would argue that solitude and conversation are also hard, at least for us moderns. With various technologies filling every waking moment, carving out time for solitude and conversation is hard to do. It’s also hard to learn how to enjoy being alone, or how to enjoy being social, if those aren’t activities that come naturally to you. But I agree with Newport that the hard work does pay off.

And if you have made it through this entire, 500-word blog post? Congratulations: that counts as a demanding activity! Will you also make time to be alone and to be social today?