Call me lazy, but, yes – I’m practicing the art of doing nothing and is one of my to-do-lists recently. Oh, be sure it’s in the topmost.
This might be difficult for the overachievers out there, or even me and you, the common people because you try to make things happen in an instant. You constantly remind yourself that you’re not getting any younger anymore. That the clock ticks even faster every time you wake up.
Society’s voices are powerful to let you juggle life without breathing. The noises in your life seem to occupy most of your brain to do everything you could possibly do until you realize it is too late for you to sit on the porch, smell the aroma of your coffee, notice the flapping wings of a multicolored butterfly, and hear the humming of the birds sharing your home in the roof tiles or gutter.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk today and sniff the scent of gardenia or jasmine along the way without rushing your butt off to work?
How do you feel when you simply look at the sky and imagine what objects did the clouds form instead of pinning your eyes on your smartphones to pass the time?
You know, we are missing out on extraordinary things being extremely busy.
In this time of pandemic where there is a huge unemployment rate globally, it doesn’t pain you to practice the art of doing nothing for a few days before bouncing back to job searching.
It’s one of my expertise and I’ll show you how in a moment.
The Art of Doing Nothing – Where the Tradition Came From
Dolce far Niente is literally dolce = sweet, far = do, niente = nothing – the sweetness of doing nothing – the Italian’s way of life in which you can absolutely do nothing, wander your mind, no pressures, and just enjoying the moment.
For Italians, dolce far niente is best paired with coffee while watching the passersby. It feels like time is so slow that you get to appreciate the simplicity of life.
Eat, Pray, Love movie starred by Julia Roberts even adapted the idea of the art of doing nothing through a clip. It is a scene from the movie where Julia Robert’s newfound Italian friends in a barbershop are chattering about the Italian’s ideas of “relaxing” or “enjoying yourself” where they can take a nap, sip a coffee, and go home for a while even in the middle of the day. I wish every company culture would adopt that. Can we be productive if that’s the case?
How to Master the Art of Doing Nothing
Switch off your smartphones and TV
Three hours (at least) of disconnecting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email, and Netflix will rob most of your time. Frankly, you might even go beyond three hours scrolling to Facebook alone. The time you say a “quick peek” will turn into hours until your eyes are stuck in front of your gadgets.
If three hours is too much for a start, try 20-30 minutes twice a week. Stick to it. Practice it, until you get the hang of it.
Grab a chair, find a good spot – inside or outside your house. Sit still. Observe your surroundings. Daydream.
Do nothing in your bedroom
The best place to do nothing is in your bedroom. Just lay there, close your eyes, and don’t get distracted. Don’t forget to wiggle around after you completed doing nothing. (It just makes you comfortable.)
Do you remember when you were still a kid and your mom forced you to take naps in the afternoon? And do you know that a few naps reduce the risk of heart attack and lower your stress levels? Well, why don’t you try? It doesn’t have to be in your bedroom. You can even take a nap on the bus on your way home.
Hot bubble bath
Usually, a bubble bath is accompanied by a book or a wine on the sides. But mastering the art of doing nothing is best practiced with just soaking yourself into the hot water and letting the bubbles and steam invade every inch of your body.
Did I tell you that Italians pair the art of doing nothing with a porcelain cup of coffee? I know you have a few cups daily but this time, try to savor the flavor. If you’re not a coffee lover, hot cocoa or a flavored tea is a good alternative.
Sip your drink slowly. Savor the aroma and flavor. Feel the texture. Feel the temperature. Don’t let your mind wander. Focus and concentrate on your drink.
By doing nothing, you let yourself appreciate nature. You can do this at your porch, staring at the flowers or even weeds. Gaze at their colors, their lines, and the insects playing around them. Or you can do it in the park or at the lake.
Bodies of water are a commendable place to practice the art of doing nothing. Believe me, it’s worth it. I’ve done this a lot in my to-do-lists. Observing the water splashing and the carefree waves are so satisfying.
Don’t let your guilt eat you
You all have a long to-do-lists even before you start your day. Because you always measure accomplishment and productivity by how much you have achieved. Being guilty about the things you should be doing will not help you practice the art of doing nothing.
Bring back the essence of day-offs
A few decades ago, the idea of a day-off is to connect with family and friends. People move house to house to chat and laugh, eat and drink. Today’s concept of a weekend is an extension of office works, to finish what is left from the weekdays, to check emails, to scroll into social media. Can’t we turn back the lost practice of day-offs?
Get off the dishes
Generally, you wash the dishes right after everyone is done eating. Why don’t you take this time to practice the art of doing nothing for a few minutes? My parents always grab a chair and head to the front yard to chat and enjoy the view of the glittering sky right after meals. When I started doing the same and sitting idly, it feels refreshing, it clears out the troubles and stress you collect that day.
When stress gets in your way or being too busy is your way of life, people repeatedly suggest you relax, take a deep breath, then continue. Sure, you all know how to take your time off, be lazy, and do nothing. Yet whenever you do, your mind will automatically tell you to finish the other chores thinking that doing nothing is a waste of time.
I guess doing nothing is hard work after all. Perhaps that’s why it’s called an ART of doing nothing, it can’t be done overnight, don’t you agree?
Well, I think it is reasonable to include dolce far niente into your long bullets of to-do-list. A few moments of doing nothing not only reduces your stress levels but will allow you time to think and appreciate the small things in life.
Over to you…
Do you have your own art of doing nothing list you want to share? Or have you done a minimum of three out of this list? Why don’t you try it today? 15-20 minutes will do. Then come back and share if this helps in relieving your stress or any outcome you experience. I’ll be waiting.