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How doing nothing can improve our well-being

Photo: Andrew Tanglao/Unsplash
Actor Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani in the hit sitcom Friends, once said in a television interview: “My favourite thing in the world to do…like my absolute favourite thing in the world to do…is nothing. I’m great at it! Because it’s so easy. There’s no rules. What are you going to do today? I’ll tell you – nothing! Pretty simple.”

If we were to put “doing nothing” to a vote, I wonder how many of us would say it’s our favourite thing to do or even be willing to give it a try. Not many, one suspects. Yoga and meditation or walking and jogging don’t count, for even those activities are doing something.

LeBlanc’s radical notion of “doing nothing” is precisely that – doing absolutely nothing. It could be anything that doesn’t involve a physical task or activity, such as sitting quietly at home or anywhere with only our thoughts to occupy us, gazing out the window, simply lying down and letting our mind wander, or observing the tide come in and go out.
But you know what a really good experiment would be? Setting a timer to see just how long we can stay away from our phones; for to be away from that intrusive gadget in our tech-obsessed lives would also be a significant way of doing nothing.
Paradoxically, doing nothing is probably one of the hardest things to do because we are used to a culture that values constant action and productivity. Our brains are likely wired to keep us busy and stressed in pursuit of our goals. From that perspective, the idea of doing nothing – or idling as we might see it – can be unsettling even though it gives us a chance to unwind and recharge ourselves, and come back with more energy.
There’s no doubt that doing nothing can have numerous mental and emotional benefits. Here are a few of them.
Reduces stress, resulting in a greater sense of calm and relaxation.
Improves mental clarity and focus.
Enhances creativity, leading to fresh ideas and insights.
Improves decision making, especially our priorities in life.
Strengthens our relationships, both at home and elsewhere.
Increases self-awareness.
Allows us to slow down, reflect on our thoughts and feelings, and appreciate the present moment.
Helps us to relax, sleep better, and generally improves our mood.
The next time life overwhelms us, it would be a good idea to hit the pause button and practice nothingness. It could do wonders for our mental and emotional well-being.
© PocketfulofHappiness

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We've gotten the message for so long that we need to 'be productive,' to do something, to make our time worthwhile. And yet, I think you have a good point that doing nothing sometimes is productive. It heals us and helps to keep us balanced. It's hard to remember that in the rush of daily life, but it is important.

Replying to

Margot, thank you for commenting. You make an excellent point. Being active or productive all the time doesn't necessarily mean fulfilment. In fact, it can be counter-productive often resulting in stress and burnout, which never does you any good. It's important to take time out every now and then, lead a balanced life, and prioritise self-care.

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