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A Case for Doing Nothing

woman enjoying nature
I've Got To Have Peace of Mind

Our world is busy, and one thing I learned from shut down was the value of simplicity. The simplest things can help us thrive: taking the time to smell our food, not having to eat while we work, spending hours in traffic, or multi-tasking. Taking time. Metabolizing Life.

As a child, I would listen to elders comment on the family, "You all do not know hard work." When I considered all they suffered and endured for my comfort, it felt shameful to choose rest. During a time of transition, I was constantly being asked, "When are you hosting another event?" "Why aren't you promoting? You're going to lose momentum." I had to fight the urge to defend taking time for myself, it was not easy. In a world that thrives on constant productivity and the pursuit of progress, it seemed counterintuitive to justify doing nothing. The years of comparing myself, people pleasing, wallowing in feelings of shame and guilt, was coming to an end. Maneuvering life's back to back failures was exhausting, and choosing rest felt like weakness. It was time to pivot.

After spending a year on sabbatical, I found that idleness can not only be beneficial, but essential, for personal well-being and success. Allow me to present my justification for doing nothing:

  1. Mental Restoration and Creativity: Our minds are constantly bombarded with information, tasks, and responsibilities, leaving little room for reflection and creative thinking. Engaging in periods of deliberate inactivity allows our brains to rest, recharge, and regain focus. It is during these idle moments that the mind can wander freely, leading to fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and heightened creativity. By doing nothing, we provide space for the subconscious mind to make unexpected connections and generate novel solutions.

  2. Embracing the Present Moment: In our fast-paced lives, we often find ourselves caught up in planning for the future or dwelling on the past, neglecting the beauty of the present moment. By consciously choosing to do nothing, we cultivate mindfulness and learn to appreciate the here and now. Whether it's observing nature, savoring a cup of tea, or simply taking a deep breath, these moments of stillness can bring a profound sense of peace and contentment. They remind us to slow down, be fully present, and find joy in the simple pleasures of life.

  3. Reflection and Self-Discovery: Constant busyness can easily lead to a loss of self-awareness and a disconnection from our true desires and values. When we allow ourselves to do nothing, we create an opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. By pausing and examining our thoughts, emotions, and aspirations, we gain clarity about our purpose and what truly matters to us. This self-discovery process can be transformative, helping us align our actions with our authentic selves and make more intentional choices in life.

  4. Enhancing Productivity and Efficiency: Paradoxically, taking regular breaks and doing nothing can actually improve productivity and efficiency in the long run. Research has shown that sustained periods of work without breaks lead to diminishing returns, as our focus and cognitive abilities decline. On the other hand, incorporating deliberate moments of idleness into our routines allows us to recharge, replenish our energy levels, and maintain peak performance. By taking short breaks or engaging in unstructured leisure activities, we return to our tasks with renewed vigor, improved concentration, and enhanced problem-solving abilities.

  5. Cultivating Emotional Well-being: The constant pressure to be productive and achieve results can take a toll on our emotional well-being, leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Taking the time to do nothing acts as a powerful antidote to these negative effects. It allows us to disconnect from the demands of the external world, release tension, and find inner calm. Engaging in activities such as meditation, mindfulness, or simply indulging in leisurely hobbies promotes emotional balance, reduces stress levels, and enhances overall mental health.

So let me pose a question, What could YOUR version of a sabbatical look like? How would your life change with a fresh burst of inspiration and energy? Your change could be small, taking a walk in nature and spending time in the sun, cooking a nourishing meal, or feeding your brain with audiobooks or non-work related podcasts. During my sabbatical, spending time with friends and family revived me, solving puzzles to get off my electronic devices and relax, and even a nap could be life changing.

You are worthy of taking space, to breathe life into your work, your relationships, and your future. Feeling fascinated by your own life is not a luxury. It's a necessity. In a society that often values constant action and productivity, embracing the art of doing nothing can be a radical act of self-care and personal growth. It is a deliberate choice to prioritize our well-being, foster creativity, and reconnect with our authentic selves. So, in the midst of life's busyness, remember that sometimes, doing nothing can be the most productive thing you can do.

Morgan Harper Nichols
There's No Rush by Morgan Harper Nichols


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