Door Number Sixteen: Doing Nothing


     “How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward” ~Spanish Proverb

We live in a fast-paced society that promotes constant activity. We work long hours and spend our weekends cramming in all the activities and projects we don’t have time during the week to accomplish. Most of us are so busy when we do find ourselves with some downtime we feel guilty. Now while one of the doors to a successful existence includes having fun hobbies, one should also dedicate some of their life to doing absolutely nothing. This may seem to fly in the face of all conventional wisdom about the value of staying busy and engaging in hard work, but there are a number of reasons why one should consciously make time for inactivity.

Doing nothing allows us to process our thoughts. The problem with being busy is many times we fail to fully register every experience we have. For example, if you ask the average person to tell you what they want out of life you will probably get a myriad of answers ranging anywhere from a successful career to a happy marriage. Many times once those same people achieve those goals they will experience a sense something is still missing. A feeling that may come from the mind not having the time to figure out why it wants the things it does or if it even wants them in the first place. Something easily avoided if we just allow ourselves bit of rest from constant activity.

Doing nothing allows our body and mind a chance to rest.  Being active is great for our mental and physical health. It keeps us sharp and helps us lead a better quality of life. However, if we don’t take a time out every so often, we run the risk of burn out. Be it a physical injury in the case of exercising our body, or a minor mental breakdown in the case of constant mental engagement, too much activity without rest can be counter productive. Just don’t get too carried away and fall asleep in a mountain valley for twenty years.

Doing nothing helps us realize our true priorities. Keeping ourselves busy all of the time without stopping can cause us to lose sight of our priorities. We begin to jump from one activity to the next not because we want to, but because it has become part of the routine and we do not have the energy to break it. By finding a moment each day to reflect and let the mind relax we give ourselves time to think about what we would actually like to be doing. Like a pause button for life, it allows to consider whether we really enjoy what we are doing throughout our day or whether we should shift gears and try something different.

Opening the door of nothingness is important because it allows us to process our thoughts, gives us the rest we need, and makes clear our true priorities. Does this mean we should dedicate our lives to eliminating the things that make us busy? Probably not. Rather, it is important we take brief breaks from life. Even if there seems to be no time available to spend doing nothing, the short-term sacrifice of productivity is well worth the long-term gain. As with most things in life a fair amount of balance is the key when incorporating inactivity into your life. Unless of course you are looking to destroy Fantasia, then feel free to let The Nothing consume you.


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