They say you should learn to do nothing. How, I don’t know. Time for an exploratory study on doing nothing.
What is doing nothing?
Doing nothing is what you do when you put your brain in ‘park’ mode. Honestly, I have no idea how you actually go about that. I can certainly perform tasks that require 100% focus and, in so doing, effectively ‘park’ the superfluous parts of my brain. But do absolutely NOTHING? – I simply don’t believe that’s possible.
Doing nothing – men vs women
Men excel at doing nothing. They think nothing of watching sports programs 10 hours a week. Okay, I’m exaggerating and generalising in equal measure. I reckon women do nothing much less frequently. And even though they often spend hours and hours and hours chatting on their mobile phones, I can tell you from personal experience: that comes close to doing nothing.
Doing nothing per age category
I’ll briefly run you through the generalisation curve, with two age categories.
You have the nothing doers who embark upon lengthy cycling trips. Three times a week. Not that that’s doing nothing. But don’t those people need to work, clean the garage or write something for example? When all is said and done though, deep down I wish I was such a cyclist. The more youthful nothing doer is, in my mind, the gamer, the full-time apper, the couch potato. Curtains closed, lights on.
What does nothing?
Your brain, your body or what? Doing nothing with your brain goes hand in hand with exercise. It’s no coincidence that they encourage you to: clear your head with a nice run. Strange. If there is ever a time my brain is trying to think up all kinds of creative reasons for why running is a bad idea, then it’s during a run. And, so we arrive at an important point: doing nothing needs to be enjoyable, otherwise your brain won’t oblige.
The fun and not-so-fun ways of doing nothing
For me, running is the perfect example of when doing nothing is absolutely no fun at all. I do (did) it purely because it’s beneficial. Writing or working with a saw or sander on the other hand, is my fun version of doing nothing. Or doing something wholly unproductive with someone else. Like playing a game with the kids, baking a cake, going for a walk or watching TV together. Lazing on the veranda watching the grass grow, is yet another enjoyable way of doing nothing.
So, if I really must learn to do nothing, then please, at least let it be the fun type of nothing.
Resistance to doing nothing
You must always strive for productivity. Because, in my book, doing nothing is not an option. It’s not in my blood. Or to put it another way – I can do nothing about the fact that I am unable do nothing! But seriously, doing nothing is not as easy as it sounds. Truly doing nothing is similar to mindfulness and comes close to letting your mind go its own merry way. But without being interrupted by pesky thoughts. I really get what that is you know, mindfulness and doing nothing. And that’s where my resistance stems from. From the very thought of choosing to pass up those thoughts you don’t want to pass up.
You simply have to get on with it, that whole doing nothing lazy-business. Once you’ve mastered laziness, you then need to identify which particular piece of your brain is engaged in doing something or nothing. You must also distinguish between the fun and not-so-fun ways of doing nothing. And understand why you should practice productive laziness in the first place.
Must be a bit like a power nap, which is also used to boost post nap productivity.
I will have to find my inner whats-her-name….La Lazy.