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Success-Energy Lab: In Praise of Doing Nothing

“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

~ Winnie-the-Pooh, fictional character created by A.A. Milne

I’m off enjoying a much anticipated visit to Scotland to see my in-laws, so I’m sharing another of my favourite summer reminders and a video reboot that’s worth exploring. Even in summer, there’s one thing that I believe most of us need to do more often, and few of us know how to do well. NOTHING.

It got me thinking. When was the last time you did …NOTHING?

And I’m not talking about killing-6-hours-binge-watching-House-of-Cards NOTHING, I’m talking about … NO. THING? You just twitched didn’t you.

Watch the video below, or read the transcript that follows, and then carve out a bit of time this week to do nothing.

For many of us, it’s a foreign concept ‘Nothing? What is this thing you speak of?’

Our days are jammed from first light to good night. Every moment is filled with meetings, emails, phone calls, driving here and there, groceries, house work, yard work … multi-tasking through life. And if we have a free moment, our phones keep us company. Down time gets distracted away by Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, in a frenzied effort to stay relevant, caught up, connected. Instead, we’re feeling frazzled and fried.

Which is why it’s so necessary to pause every now and then, to slow down, to do nothing in a bid to make sense of ‘busy’. Most of us are used to being in constant motion. We defer to ‘what’s next’ or to ‘what’s happening elsewhere’ All. Day. Long.

Doing nothing calms the mind and creates a sense of peace that brings about some pretty powerful benefits. And it’s not about being lazy or passive. It’s about getting comfortable with calm…and to completely enjoy and savour the moment…guilt-free. Doing nothing also helps you get clear.

If you’re always on the go, and always connected, your first efforts at nothing will feel awkward. Go with it! Sit for ten minutes. Slow down long enough to disconnect from ‘busy’ and just be. Long enough to get a bit uncomfortable. Bored even!

In the same way an uncomfortable yoga pose can lead to more flexibility, the discomfort of boredom can enhance creative thinking. Yes, there are scientific benefits to being bored! In a 2014 U.K. study, people who were bored before solving a problem, generally had more creative solutions. Need more scientific benefits of slowing the heck down? Watch video #14 – A Parasympathetic Pause to be reminded!

And then breathe. Breathe in silence and allow your head and heart to talk to you without all the noise of stress drowning out what’s really important. When I sit and breathe in silence, it grounds me, and I’m rarely thinking about TV programs or social media or what I should be doing around the house. My mind usually wanders toward how I feel, the health I want to create for myself, the creative things I want to tackle in my business, the way I want to ‘be’ as a person, the things I want to do that fulfill me. Powerful stuff.

Breathe quietly & allow your head & heart to talk to you without the noise of stress drowning out what’s really important.

And I get that it’s not always easy to do nothing. So I’m going to share a few more ways that you can disconnect from ‘busy’ and practice ‘nothing’:

First off, GET RID OF THE GUILT. Busy is not a badge of honour. Instead of measuring success by the quantity of tasks you accomplish in a day, be in the moment and focus on quality. I’m talking 10 minutes here people. Not ten hours.

Disconnect! Getting lost online can drain your energy, and hours on social media is a waste of time. If disconnecting for a day makes you twitchy, start in small doses. Turn your devices off an hour earlier each night, go tech free Saturday til noon and during your breaks at work, or have breakfast without staring at your iPad.

Turn off your TV. Sure TV can be an escape from stress, but too much of it robs you of time, energy and the chance to explore …nothing. Give up TV for an hour and replace it with a walk around the neighborhood. Fresh air and connecting with nature. Nothing better.

Take a nap. A daily snooze can reduce the risk of heart attack and lower stress levels. Nap at your desk or on the sofa (why not?). OR go to a quiet park and close your eyes, listen to the birds and smell the grass…for a quiet intermission of nothing…in nature.

Leave the chores. You don’t have to load the dishwasher the minute everyone is done eating. YOU DON’T. The world will not stop spinning if laundry folding waits. Sit, relax a moment or two. Do NOTHING. And don’t overthink it.

Morning is the easiest time to do nothing. The world is quiet, most people are still asleep, and your mind hasn’t yet fully latched on to all the busy stuff that comes with a normal day. So before that happens, take 10 morning minutes for sacred do-nothing-time. The pause may come at the expense of a bit more productivity, but the clarity you gain will be worth it.

Try these three simple steps.

  1. Sit down  2. Breathe  3. Repeat #2

And for those few blissful minutes, luxuriate in the awesomeness of doing…NOTHING.

Until next time, I’m Michelle Cederberg helping you transform your work and life,  one recharge at a time.


Michelle Cederberg, MKin, BA Psyc

Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)
Certified Exercise Physiologist (CEP)
Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC)
ORSC Trained Team Coach

Live Energetically ~ Do Work You Love ~ Get the Most Out of Life

Twitter: @4worklifeenergy


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