Do you feel like you could be doing something more productive? Do you feel guilty for resting? You are not alone.
It’s 2020 and it’s entirely normal.
The age where work can be done from a small, palm-sized object in your hand. The era when it’s become difficult to distinguish when our ‘doing’ really stops and rest truly starts.
Each morning, we might well be interrupted by an alarm on the very thing we work on. Our eyes open and our finger slides across the same screen we use to open our emails and check our diaries. A world full of notifications meet us before our feet have touched the floor!
Day by day, this drip-feed of ‘doing’, becomes the done thing.
Scrolling through social media is still doing.
Reading a book is still doing.
Watching Netflix is still doing!
We have transformed from ‘human-beings’ into ‘human-doings’. Even though it is against the very nature of our name! We have also seen some of the fastest technological advances in history, technology developed to make our lives easier. Right?
So why do our lives still feel so busy?
Let’s take a look around the world, where in some cultures, the art of doing nothing has a place in society.
- In Italy, you have the ‘dolce far niente’
- In France, there is the ‘joie de vivre’
- In Spain, the infamous ‘Siesta’
These cultures carve out time during the day to slow down, to eat properly, to digest, to socialise, to rest, to sleep, to enjoy living and doing absolutely nothing! There is no judgement being.
I recall living in France in 2012 where between the hours of 12-2pm everyday, the shutters went down, the office doors closed. And don’t even think about trying to get to a shop on Sunday…
The French were were busy ‘being’.
Because rest is productive. Rest is needed.
Without rest, we are no different than a factory machine working on default. Rest makes us human. Rest is to be embraced. We even engineered this process into our incessant technology, which also needs to be charged from time to time. Look around and learn. We need it.
Now it’s time to deal with Busy.
The ‘B’ word is thrown around as a common response to many ‘how are you?’ enquiries. It’s everyday parlance, an ordinary response.
But here’s the secret…
The most successful and satisfied people do not describe their day as ‘busy’. Busy to these standards means inefficient, it means unable to prioritise, it means not being able to say ‘no’ and not being able to preserve energy for higher purposes.
The things which really matter.
Busy is not something to be proud of. It is not a badge of honour. It is not something you should say lightly, because the more you say it, the more you believe it and the more it will become the reality in which you live.
Q: Well, how can I explain to someone just how much I’ve had going on this week?
A: Use words which empower your activity. Use words such as;
‘productive’, ‘effective’, ‘energising’, ‘diverse’, ‘dynamic’, ‘invigorating’, ‘abundant’
Your energy and actions will respond and uplift that which you do, even if it is a lot! Busy shuts down conversation, a person is less likely to be interested in conversation if you shut them down with the big B word.
But if you say, my week has been ‘productive’ or ‘abundant’, suddenly all the ears prick up and we want to know why!
Q: How can I slow down if I’m a busy person?
A: Make a list of things you do, prioritise those which are important.
Put a mark next to the things which GIVE you energy. Prioritise those.
Weigh up, if you really need to ‘help out’ on that extra activity because it doesn’t give you enough time to do the things which matter without rushing.
Simply and politely, respect your energy as a resource and say, “no thank you.”
Q: Doing nothing, does that mean sitting still? I can’t stop thinking.
A: Some call it sitting still, some call it meditation, others might say it’s a state of just being. It might feel strange at first but like with anything, the art of doing nothing is a practice.
It can help to focus the mind on something like the breath or some candles. You could put on some soft music . Connecting to your senses is very powerful way to step into ‘being’.
Observe the body and breathe, watch thoughts like clouds as they arrive and then watch them as they go.
See what’s really living in you and around you.
(Any time your mind wanders, bring it back to your focus point)
Q: What happens in this state of nothing?
A: Surprisingly, it’s not nothing!
This stated allows space for a connection to our intuition, space to observe our patterns and thoughts, our bodies and our environment, our fears, hopes and dreams.
Have you ever had a good idea in the shower? Well, that’s because you were doing nothing.
You were being!
Q: I can’t find time to do nothing!
A: Start with doing nothing for a few minutes as you wake up or a few minutes before you go to bed. Tying new habits onto things we already have in our daily structure is a safe method to ensure we keep them going.
Set an alarm that is not your phone in the morning and keep your phone away from you during your this time.
Increase these minutes, week-to-week and watch your ‘state of nothing’ and wellbeing grow!
Was this helpful? Do you have any more ideas on how to perfect the ‘art of doing nothing’? Do you struggle to quiet the mind? How do you feel when you hear the word ‘busy?’
Let me know your thoughts and share this post with a busy body you know!