Winter Reading

The spicy scents of pepernoten and speculaas hang in the streets of Groningen, meaning the winter break is slowly approaching. As the remaining leaves fall, students and staff are preparing for celebrations spent with family and friends, and visions of crisp forest walks and ample amounts of hearty meals make the commencement of the winter holidays highly anticipated. However, a sour thought lingers within many: what gifts can I give?

We contend to keep it simple: show your appreciation through uninterrupted attention and awareness. Switch off your devices and fully engage in the precious now.

However, that is easier said than done. The relationship we have to technology has certainly become too complicated for such a blanket statement to fully convince. Therefore, “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport is the perfect solution. Newport gives an overview of the original intentions behind our favorite devices, explaining how this has shifted toxically due to economic reasons, rendering us slaves to our screens, and making us susceptible to, as Newport puts it, solitude deprivation. He then proposes a step-by-step digital declutter which can ultimately empower the reader to spend his/her time more wisely.

“This is why clutter is dangerous. It’s easy to be seduced by the small amounts of profit offered by the latest app or service, but then forget its cost in terms of the important resource we possess: the minutes of our life.” (Newport, 2019)

What kind of gifts do you want to give (or hope to receive!) this Christmas?

Is simply being present one of them?

Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment by December 20th 2019 and we’ll send a copy of the book to two randomly selected people so they can read it over Christmas.


Maxi, a BSc Psychology student of the RUG since 2018, has a firm interest in environmental psychology, social psychology, and the intersection between philosophy and psychology. As a vegan and environmentally conscious individual, she recognizes the power of nature and hopes to one day preserve it for a living.

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  • Demetra Korogiannou December 12, 2019'

    This inspired me to be more cautious with the way i send time on my phone. But indeed better said than done! My presents are thrifted unique but also useful objects that reminded me of the person. Plus a tony’s chocolate for everyone since we dont have any in Greece!

  • Teodora December 12, 2019'

    This Christmas I would love to keep it low with instagram posts therefore, to be more present and also help the people around me this Holiday, to be more present.

  • Sarah December 12, 2019'

    I always love presents which are thoughtful and show appreciation. The mere gesture of wanting to make the other person happy, is what counts for me. So I feel like being completely present for the other person is a valuable gift in itself.

  • Martijn December 12, 2019'

    I’m hoping for some good quiet time with lovely people. Anything beyond and above is welcome but not necessary.

  • M December 12, 2019'

    I gained more insights into our consumer behavior from Consumer and Economic Psychology and felt like it’s my duty as a consumer to shift from mindless spending to conscious investment. So, I decided to write something on my wish list that doesn’t cost any money nor put a strain on our precious climate – time. Time to be with my loved ones. Time to ground myself in the present moment. Time to just be me without all the “must do’s” and time comprehend the fact that there’s a new decade around the corner.

    Merry Christmas!
    (or is it too early to say that?)

  • valeria December 13, 2019'

    despite the pervasive consumerism and gratuitous religious symbolism, christmas became a celebration of giving for me. the ritual of searching for gifts and through this feeling connected with the people i love is the gift i treasure the most.
    books are nice gifts too.

  • Ingo December 15, 2019'

    You inspired me to think more about the topic. Will try to reduce time on the phone in order to have more time for the important things in life.
    Thanks a lot!

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

  • Mike December 19, 2019'

    Thank you for this stimulating and nice to read article! I liked the choice of words and enjoyed the imagery.

    This Christmas I want to push the boundaries of my minimalism even more. I will try to consume less and be less materialistic. This year I did not wish for anything for Christmas. I will try to gift people my love and presence during the festivities. Most importantly though, I wish to nurture my compassion and understanding towards people that I struggle to interact with.

    Mindful Festivities to all of you!

  • Ivy December 19, 2019'

    The keyword „solitude deprivation“ really struck me. It got me to wonder about the influence on the development of personality of the individual, when it is rarely confronted with making choices about themselves to their own accord.
    Would being constantly interwoven with social media not be an escapism, in times where it might be more beneficial to face the own mind, good and bad?

    I am looking forward to finding out more about the potential influence of digitization on society and the individual. I especially wonder how society will handle the current limitlessness of the internet in the next decades.
    Great article, it got me thinking 🙂
    Happy holidays!

  • Yvonne December 20, 2019  

    I spend my holiday time to playing board games and puzzles with my kids. They already anticipate the joy and we will have lots of fun.
    I hope to teach them that there is more to life than computer games.

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