Learn the art of doing nothing

“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

I’d forgotten how much I like doing nothing.

By that I mean properly zoning out. This morning I spent time staring into space, watching clouds scudding across the sky. My mind wandering aimlessly.

This came about after reading Editor Jo Elvin’s letter in today’s You magazine in which she describes the time she makes for doing absolutely nothing at all.

It got me thinking about when I made time for pure emptiness and couldn’t remember. There are days that I don’t do the things I say I’ll do but rarely days I promise to do nothing and be OK about it.

We are programmed to be busy from a young age. Adults say things like ‘make yourself useful’ or ‘find something to do’. We grow up with a weird mania to hustle. We assiduously complete tasks and structure the routine of our lives. God, isn’t it just tiring? Don’t you just want to stop?

But doing nothing, it seems, is socially unacceptable. We could even be accused of – quelle horreur! – being lazy.

Our modern multi-platform, 24/7 networked society means we are occupied almost every waking minute of the day. There are even memes about planning an early night and still scrolling through Instagram at 3am.

Being idle wasn’t accepted or taught as something thats useful itself but research shows it can be restorative and helpful. It allows thinking space where we may find solutions to problems, see situations from a different perspective or experience bursts of creativity.

I enjoyed the peace and calm of having nothing to do. Unfortunately I didn’t have any epiphanies but that’s fine – maybe I will another day.

Perhaps it’s time to master the art of doing nothing…

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I'm a writer, journalist and communications officer based in the South West of England. I write about wellbeing, the outdoors and life in a rural playground.

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