There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness.

What did Henry David Thoreau mean by:

There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness.


This quote speaks to the paradox of our existence. It implies that life is constantly filled with new experiences, ideas, and opportunities (an incessant influx of novelty), yet we often find ourselves stuck in repetitive routines and mundane realities (tolerating incredible dullness).

The first part of the quote – "There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world" – highlights the constant change and evolution in the world. Every moment, every day, there are new ideas, technologies, cultures, and perspectives emerging. Nothing is static; everything is in a state of flux and transformation.

The second part – "and yet we tolerate incredible dullness" – points to a human tendency to stick to what is familiar and safe, even if it’s monotonous or dull. We often resist change, cling to routines, and prefer the comfort of the known over the uncertainty of the new. This can lead to a life that feels stagnant and dull, despite the constant novelty around us.

Applying this idea to today’s world, we can see this paradox playing out on a global scale. On one hand, we live in an age of unprecedented innovation and change, with new technologies and ideas emerging at a rapid pace. On the other hand, many of us lead lives that are routine and predictable, stuck in jobs we don’t enjoy, or in relationships that no longer serve us.

In terms of personal development, this quote can serve as a reminder to embrace the new and novel in our lives. It encourages us to step out of our comfort zones, to seek out new experiences and opportunities, and to not settle for a life of dullness and monotony. At the same time, it also reminds us that novelty for its own sake is not the goal. Instead, we should seek out the new and novel that truly enriches our lives and helps us grow as individuals.

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