The art of doing nothing

Why doing nothing can lead to something

It’s easy to kick ourselves when all we want to do is nothing. We feel guilty of the supposed waste of time and productivity we could have had. But, what if I was to tell you that sometimes, doing something comes from doing nothing at all.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Blaise Pascal

As an example, this post you’re reading is from my blog. The idea for that blog and my newsletter came from staring out into space one day and doing nothing. I’m not saying this will be the same for everyone but it’s possible. 

I knew I wanted to do something but I was so focused on figuring out what that something could be that I poured all my energy into trying to create, yet, I couldn’t come up with anything. I felt guilty for laying around and staring out into space, as it was a supposed waste of time. However, that same moment of doing nothing is when the ideas started to flow and eureka! Here we are now.

I’m sure other writers (and fyi I’m not saying I am a writer but I do write) experience this when they know they should be writing but are just staring at their screen thinking, “I’ve got nothing!”. Then, somehow in a random moment of doing nothing (for me generally walking) the creative mind awakes and bam! The story flows.

I’m sure you might have examples of this in your own life too.

Just think about it, how many times have ideas struck you when you’re sleeping, lazing around the house or doing mundane tasks such as cleaning, ironing or washing the dishes? I bet it’s been a few.

You might ask, why ideas and creative thoughts stream in the middle of doing nothing?

Now, I’m not a doctor and I’m not going to play one on the internet. My 2 cents on this, is that in the realm of doing nothing, our brain finally has the freedom to digest information and let it’s creative juices run wild.

If you look across your own experiences, I bet you can find those moments where the really quiet moments led to something. I’m not advocating that doing nothing all the time is going to lead you to get the next big idea. If that’s what you’re hoping for then I’m sorry, you’re going to have to find focus and effort to get big things in life. However, your brain needs quiet time to actually breathe and the space to entertain big ideas. And this is exactly what allowing yourself to do nothing could bring.

The beginning of something great can come from moments of nothing but you’ll need to deploy effort and focus in making them a reality. Just doing nothing all the in the hopes of your mind coming up with lots of creativity and then not acting upon it, is just being lazy.

So, don’t discount those moments of doing nothing. When you’re so focused on doing something or feel like you should be doing something and you just can’t get to it. Perhaps, taking moments of doing nothing will lead you to that something.


For more thoughts like this, please subscribe to my weekly newsletter where I share insights, experiences and reflections on learning, personal development and managing the monkey mind.

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