I came across this interesting article in The New York Times called The Case for Doing Nothing. I thought it was appropriate for this holiday season and to rethink how we’ll live 2021. The pandemic has been central to 2020 and has forced us out of our comfort zones. That causes stress, which can give us the opportunity to rethink what we deem important and how we choose to live our lives. It’s certainly had that impact on me. The pandemic has given me more space and time; it’s slowed me down. It’s provided me the opportunity to begin writing a book on the WW material for the general public, something that was a goal of mine back in the mid 1990s when I began studying mental training. 

The article states: “Running from place to place and laboring over long to-do lists have increasingly become ways to communicate status: I’m so busy because I’m just so important, the thinking goes.” If we’re honest with ourselves, then we’ll certainly see this association. For me, it’s one of the most difficult things to separate: my worth from productivity. Being busy shifts our focus toward striving for a future we think is better than today. 

The article gives us a way out of this busyness and false sense of importance. “There’s a way out of that madness, and it’s not more mindfulness, exercise or a healthy diet (though these things are all still important). What we’re talking about is … doing nothing. Or, as the Dutch call it, niksen.”

Niksen is getting comfortable with boredom. We’re comfortable with having no plan to do anything and just be. When we’re busy, our attention narrows toward the target of our busyness. Busyness points our attention toward the future. Boredom takes away the future. When we have nowhere to go, we are more likely to be where we are. 

That’s the challenge this holiday season and into the new year. Busyness can tie our worth to productivity and trap our attention. Boredom can separate these and allow our attention to expand so we can wonder about our lives. Wondering frees our minds to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. If we allow ourselves to be bored first–to wonder–then we’ll be able to pick more meaningful goals that we can work toward in 2021. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. 

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Donna

    I see that at the end that you came back around to that goal thing again. As if the boredom, or emptiness (as I prefer), also has to have an ultimate goal. Hmmm….

    1. Arno

      nice catch Donna. I guess the point is that both are important: goals and doing nothing. life seems to hold such dual ideas. Have a nice holiday season. a

  2. Greg Leach

    Thank you. The opposite of busyness need not be boredom but engaging in unstructured time, wondering or wandering works for me. “Not all those who wander are lost,” J.R.R. Tolkien.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family Arno!
    Stay mindful. Travel well, Greg.

    1. Arno

      Thanks for that note Greg. Yes, a little directionless wandering works. Been a long time since your visit down to TN. I trust you’re doing well. Best to you and your family. Merry Christmas. a

  3. Michael Vaill

    Hi Arno, thanks for sharing! I think of “boredom” as dissatisfaction with the emptiness that comes from having no plans. This is a product of living with expectations, which come from the end-result mindset that you write about. When we have a processes mindset, we experience emptiness with awe; each new day unfolds as a wondrous and original appearance in consciousness.

    I believe the biggest obstacle for this is the ego, which divides the observer from the universe it believes it is observing. When we realize that the observer is the observed, we realize there is nothing/nobody expecting end results, and there cannot boredom! It’s truly a life-long journey to understanding. I appreciate your blogs offering some insight and sparking discussion along the way.

    Here’s a short youtube clip of Krishnamurti on the observer and the observed: https://youtu.be/q9Ye6WbinMU

    1. Arno

      Nice insights Michael. Seems there’s value in being able to be with ourselves without the busyness being the “being” aspect. Doing nothing is hard because of how we’ve all been told to strive. We can strive at times and we can also do nothing. Thanks for sharing the youtube for Krishnamurti. I’ll check it out. a

  4. Nick Kuzera

    Thanks for this Arno –

    Similar to your habitual tendencies, staying productive to self ascribe worth is a trend I am conscious I live. Listing to the mind and understanding if the motivation is based in joyful resonance with the activity versus avoiding the niksen has been so helpful as has been scheduling time to rest and reflect. Thanks for the tools within the WW.

    Merry Christmas from Grand Rapids!

    1. Arno

      Nice Nick. Best to you during this season too. Do a little “nothing” this Christmas… a

  5. Rodrigo Chabalgoity

    Great idea for the next year. Mary Christmas and Happy New Year for you too. Abrazo

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