Sunday, June 8, 2008

Doing Nothing

Today evening I sat in my balcony for almost three hours doing nothing. Actually, it was not literally "doing nothing," because I was rocking my chair on its two rear legs, and staring at the greenery of the trees in my university campus. There is something about the greenery of trees that is very soothing. And there is also something about "doing nothing"; it is indescribable, because the experience has been different on different occasions. I have felt guilty (for not working instead), exhausted, lazy, nostalgic, creative, rejuvenated, and more, but never bored. I won't go over the details of each of these types of experiences. I will just say that there is something about this "doing nothing" that it is very attractive. How can feeling guilty and exhausted be attractive? True, there is nothing attractive about feeling guilty, but the guilt feeling is not because of "doing nothing" per se, but because of not being accepting of the state of "doing nothing." The feeling of exhaustion has been more like the way you feel after a vigorous exercise, so that's fine with me.
Modern culture propagates the idea that "doing nothing" is something very bad. Being ambitious, conscientious, hardworking, and achievement oriented seems to be today's motto. Following this motto, we are probably more successful materialistically, but not necessarily more happy. We don't even use the things we buy for our happiness. We buy swings for our yard, but rarely have the time to sit and laze around on it. We take vacations, but carry our work with it. To be fair, not all of us carry work on vacations, but most of the time we definitely carry our worries with us - worry about unfinished work, missed opportunities, and what not. End result is that we don't even enjoy our vacation properly. I personally think we'll do a lot better if we took vacations of "doing nothing" daily; it does not require the planning and execution work that often goes into vacations. "Doing nothing" requires nothing. It only requires quietude, and preferably being closer to nature (even if it is a single tree). This I think will bring us closer to love and truth. Certainly not everyone regards love and truth highly. For example, business literature shows that agreeableness (love) and openness to experience (seeking truth) are among the lesser important personality traits in organizational settings. So yes, don't listen to me, and "do nothing" at your own risk.


  1. you are right about the value of 'doing nothing' for short periods. In fact cognitive behavior therapists recommend- 'do nothing- but just stare at a tree outside your window for at least 10 minutes a day. Great stress reliever.

  2. Ah! I love the idea ...but often I delve deep into abstract thoughts when I am doing nothing, and finally feel sleepy out of exhaustion.

  3. I tried doing "nothing" and ended up doing nothing literally. Its really risky guy, especially when there is so much to be squeezed into the span of 24 hours.