It may seem that we all know how to “do nothing”; doing nothing is all about laying around and letting the time pass, right?
Most of us cannot relax and enjoy the “nothingness” because, even by doing nothing, we often have our minds set on other things. It appears then that “doing nothing” is far more difficult than you’d expect. Believe it or not, but doing nothing is a skill to be learned, an art to be mastered.
It has long been recognized by our society that work defines who we are, sets us free, and makes us creative and contributors to the common good. But, work can be compulsive, an addiction we fail to acknowledge, which can lead to grave consequences such as burnout.
Indeed, learning how to do nothing will improve your life by melting the stress away and making you work effectively. If you’re still not convinced, here are the main five reasons as to why you need to master the art of doing nothing.
1. “Doing Nothing” Isn’t Really Not Doing Anything
Technically, the state of existing cannot be associated with the literal act of doing nothing; we’re always doing something unless we’re dead. According to psychologists, idleness is not always a passive form of action if we learn how to enjoy the moment. But usually, we define “doing nothing” as doing nothing USEFUL.
The problem is that we do not always distinguish usefulness from uselessness; we do not recognize our real interests. For example, working harder to earn more money to purchase more stuff is not useful. In this context, “usefulness” as we define it, dispatches you from the present making it impossible to enjoy the moment. So, maybe “doing nothing” is actually synonymous with being fully alive.
2. Creative Thinking and Boredom
It is quite normal that sometimes, due to excessive work, we hit a mental block and can’t go forwards; at that moment, coming up with a single idea becomes impossible. The reason behind that is very simple: our minds are exhausted and need a break.
The mind has this fascinating capability of solving problems unconsciously while we’re getting on with day-to-day life. That’s what we call the “incubation effect,” which explains why many artists as well as authors and other creatives incorporate long walks in their daily routines.
Boredom, on the other hand, might be effective as it often motivates people into escaping it by finding interestingly creative ways to pass the time. Meanwhile, aimless thinking opens our minds to new ideas, unlike oriented thinking, which fixes one’s focus on specific goals that they need to achieve.
3. Doing Nothing Is Essential for Your Brain
Maximizing productivity is often linked to increased effort, and work hours; ever since the industrial revolution, humans have been treated like machines: the more they work, the more they produce. But neuroscientists are finding that our brains depend on the off-time in which we do nothing not only for the sake of resting and one’s energy but also to process the data our minds receive during the day, to consolidate memory, and to reinforce learning.
4. Doing Nothing Will Help You Focus More
As mentioned before, doing nothing is not that easy. Resisting the urge to act or to think of something takes willpower. In Buddhism, busyness is perceived as a form of laziness. It is a failed attempt to withdraw your attention from even the simplest random things.
On the bright side, learning to do nothing will help you regain your attention at other times, too. It is recommended to reserve a time for “doing nothing’ like any other task that you schedule. Just try to forget daily obligations, focus on your senses and relax. Just don’t expect your friends or colleagues to understand if you decline a social event because you’re busy doing, well, NOTHING.
5. Too Much Busyness Is Counterproductive
We always confuse effort with effectiveness; we value exhaustion as effective and useful, but that’s not the case. An exhausted person cannot be creative, which is why you need to take a break from time to time to regather your energy and move forward even faster.