The Lost Art of Doing Nothing
- All Flourish: Health + Wellbeing, Holidays + Travel, Inspiration + Motivation, Parenting, Babies, Children + Family
Image: Martin Davidson
The Lost Art of Doing Nothing
By : Pamela Weatherill
“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
Winnie The Pooh
Do nothing. Now when was the last time you wrote that on your ‘to do’ list? For many of us there is a feeling that life has sped up without our permission and that there is no such thing as catching up or getting everything done. That being the case, it really shouldn’t matter if we spend a little time doing nothing. When taking in the big picture, surely there is no such thing as getting behind in your own life?
Why then is it so hard to do nothing?
When trying to define what it means to do nothing, I automatically start reminiscing about school holidays in my teens, when I would happily sit and read all day or sit with friends and talk about ‘nothing and everything’ for hours. On completing a quick vox pop survey of family, friends and colleagues on their personal definitions of doing nothing though, a pattern began to emerge.
It seems that even when we think we are doing nothing, we are in fact doing something. For example, when asked, people would say the last time they did nothing was on holidays or on the weekend. They would follow up with examples of what this meant to them – the final list was long but it always included an activity of some sort: sleeping, meditating, reading, catching up with an old friend, listening to music, crafting or taking a stroll. It seems to me that doing a Winnie The Pooh and “just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering” has become a lost art.
What might be an easy way to get ‘do nothing’ onto our To Do lists would be to carve out time for ourselves. To be alone with our thoughts, and choose to listen to nothing but our thoughts – and like Pooh, not bother about the shoulds and tasks that might appear in our heads when we do so. Remembering to stop opens up opportunities to hear things we might not otherwise hear when we are busy being busy.
Just choosing to ‘do nothing’ is a powerful decision. I remember spending a day going through a rather overloaded in-tray. Usually proud of my efficient time management, just the sight of the in-tray was making me feel somewhat of a failure. I learned an important lesson that day. So many of the ‘important’ things in that tray could no longer be actioned, due dates had passed and moments for action been missed. The lesson? My world didn’t collapse!
When I pondered what it was that I did do with my time instead of dealing with the in-tray that week, it was actually an impressive list of proactive activities. In the end I had worked on what mattered – and where I did nothing, there were no disasters. I attacked my in-tray tasks a little differently from that day on.
If doing nothing just isn’t your way of dealing with life’s tragedies and adventures, think of the situations where you felt useless to respond, and felt like there was nothing you could do. What in fact did you do? Perhaps you sat and listened to a friend’s problem or took soup to a sick friend. I figure that sometimes when we feel we are doing nothing – we are undertaking powerful actions, actions that really make a difference, and concentrating on the things that really matter. So if you can’t quite do nothing – do a simple little something that makes a big difference.
- Getting Started on Doing Nothing (created with thanks to family and friends):
- Buy or make a knee rug. Doing nothing with a rug to cuddle up to feels like luxury.
- Learn meditation. Meditation will help you slow down to the pace of life on a daily basis.
- Get gold fish. Stop during the day to watch them feed.
- Stop to smell the roses, take in good news, people watch or watch nature at play. If you must do something, keep it simple.
- Lie in this weekend. Make up a thermos the night before and pop it by the bed, grab some mindless reading matter (how long since you read Winnie the Pooh to yourself?), and don’t get out of bed for at least two hours later than your usual rising time.
Now having had some practice. Write ‘do nothing’ on your To Do list. And keep to it.
About the author: Visit Pamela's website www.pamelaweatherill.com.au
|You may like...|
|Book Review: The Fry Chronicles||Woman on a Wire||Book Review & Interview: Beneath the Shadows, by Sara Foster||Book Review: The Handmaid's Tale|