When is it time to be still, to just stop itching to do something, anything, all the time? The answer to that question is almost always way more than we actually do it.
Many of us are not morning persons. I am one of these non-morning types. But, I still get up at ridiculously early hours and do what I need to do to get going on the day. I don’t do it because motivational gurus tell me it’s the way to be ultimately productive. I do it because it is the only way I know to fit in with what the rest of the world is doing—getting our collective asses up and going so that we might have productive days.
Doing nothing has been destined to a bad rap for quite some time. We are constantly told, “Life is short! Strike while the anvil is hot! Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today! You never know when you might breathe your last!” Well, maybe not that last one, but I think you get the picture: doing nothing is hardly ever reinforced as a necessary or even, good, thing.
While we’re busy taking stabs at being productive, occasionally we think of doing nothing. “How cool would it be if I were in a hammock just stretched out in the backyard right now?”
Even for those of us who work out in the morning, while we focus on the exercise at hand, our minds sometimes (naturally) slip to the conclusion of the workout, when we’ll be done. But, we are shamed by (those of us who have them) fitness instructors into working ever harder. When was the last time a personal trainer ever told you that you need to work on doing nothing more?
This is unfortunate because the simple truth is that those of us who can do nothing, not caring about what others think about this seeming lack of productivity, are among the ones dealing with the stress in their lives most effectively; you can only sweat out so much stress because once depleted of sweat, the body’s stress levels tend to come roaring back like a tidal wave. The dirty little secret of too much exercise is “gym rat syndrome,” that all that bouncing around creates. Regular exercise’s offsetting effect on stress is short-lived and begets all too much more frequent exercise when the body (and mind) should be afforded good stretches of doing nothing instead.
But, this isn’t about exercise or inactivity. This is about doing nothing and feeling good with that. How many of you are able to regularly check out and feel good about it? If someone would characterize you as lazy for doing nothing would it piss you off? If you can just be indifferent to the mindset that doing nothing equates to laziness, I would suggest you have developed enough self-confidence that when you do exercise, you will derive increasing, rather than decreasing, benefit from it.
Doing nothing is an important part of every day, maybe just like breakfast, although I typically don’t eat much at all for breakfast—some fruit or a small bowl of plain oatmeal. This might be the way those who do nothing well start off the day effectively (in terms of nutrition). Or not. Again, this isn’t about what you should eat, or anything else for that matter. It’s simply about doing nothing.
Would I pay to have someone teach me how to do nothing? Probably not. I say “probably” because if somebody, or their program, were interesting enough, I might fork over some money (for nothing of course), provided there was an ironclad, money-back guarantee. It is not lightly, that I would venture into being taught how to do nothing, though, especially considering I believe I have quite the mastery of this ever uncommon skill.
Sometimes people work like demons throughout the year only to go on staycations or vacations where they have a tough time staying off the grid and rejuvenating themselves doing nothing. They are not ever told to do nothing on vacation, either, mostly because if they do nothing while on vacation, there is nothing to tell co-workers upon their return to work.
“I did nothing while on vacation, Madge, and it was glorious!”
That doesn’t sound particularly interesting and we all can see how that might end the conversation abruptly. This is understandable considering I have yet to see doing nothing captured effectively on Facebook or any other social media status updates.
This is why there is a need for the general populace of this country to be shown how to do nothing (and not feel bad about it). We can’t all be superstars. Some of us are relegated to lives as benchwarmers. I say the world needs its benchwarmers just as much, if not more so, than its superstars.
Being a superstar is overrated. Once you’re at the top, there isn’t anywhere else to go but down. The crash is usually pretty hard, too. If you never rise to the pristine heights of success that people who obsess with being productive and successful do, you actually may live a happy life. Therefore, in these cases, success is overrated, too. This is especially so for those successful people who reach the end of their lives and find that happiness has largely eluded them.
Doing nothing well and doing nothing when given an opportunity are two different things, however. If you think the point of this article is to do nothing at every chance you get, then you have misunderstood my intent. What I am hoping for is that we may one day (in my lifetime) see a tombstone that reads, “He did nothing well, had his moments and smiled a lot.”
But, we’ll only get there if tolerance, humility, respect for others and the ability to laugh at ourselves actually become realities.