In Search of Niksen

“Don’t forget that sometimes doing nothing,
is the something you need to be doing!”
 – Anonymous

What did you do today?  How often do you hear that question?  In answering it, we often feel a need to justify how we spent our time, and to identify that which was accomplished.  After all, time is precious and a failure to utilize it in a productive manner may appear to be a character flaw.  Unfortunately, in today’s world, constant engagement is all too often seen as a sign of success; we have become obsessed with being productive, we have become obsessed with being busy.

Even when we’re not working, many of us feel obliged to be engaged in some type of activity, be it working out, mowing the lawn, organizing the closet, running errands and of course, checking email!  Somewhere along the line, being busy became a badge of honor flaunted with peers, family and coworkers.  Who is working more jobs?  Who is completing another degree?  Who is maintaining a job, raising kids and getting them to practices?  Unfortunately that badge of honor comes with a down side; an increasing incidence of mental health issues including stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s also compromising our creativity and innovation skills.  So what is to be done when we tie our personal worthiness to our ability to productively utilize every moment of the day?  Nothing, or as they say in the Netherlands, “Niksen”

When was the last time you intentionally did nothing?  No browsing the internet, watching TV, listening to podcasts, or even reading a book.  It’s difficult because of our preconceived notions that doing nothing is akin to being lazy or is simply wasting time.  Nothing could be further from the truth, we simply need the occasional time-out.  And here’s the good news; it can actually serve to enhance our health and productivity.  When we intentionally take time to do nothing we:

  1. Boost Creativity and Problem Solving Skills – Doing nothing frees your mind to consider new and different thoughts and ways of doing things. It gives us a different perspective.  This is why we may get our best ideas while pursuing what many call “mindless activities”, such as taking a walk or a shower!

  2. Better Connect with Our Feelings and Needs – Doing nothing gives us time for that gut check that can later guide our actions.

  3. Rest and Restore Our Brain – When we sleep our brain is provided with rest and uses this time to restore.  The same thing occurs when we do nothing.  Think of it as a nap for your brain.

  4. Reduce Our Stress – Sitting quietly with your thoughts,or simply listening to your own breath can have a calming effect, working to lessen the effects of stress.

  5. Allow the Body to Rest – Our busy lifestyles have a physical impact on the body leading to fatigue and even aches and pains.  Incorporating short intervals of rest, even in the midst of chaos, addresses the fatigue and serves to rejuvenate and restore.

Accepting the idea of doing nothing is difficult and implementing it is even more of a challenge.  However, making it a part of your day will serve to help prevent burnout, and in the long run enhance both your creativity and productivity.  Now join me as I take 15 minutes to do nothing!

Embrace Niksen
Embrace the Challenge