It was 7 PM, dinner was ready. “Do you mind if we don’t talk and just eat,” he asked. “No, of course. I’d prefer that actually,” I replied half absent while clearing the table. We ate in silence, the only sound you could hear was the noise of our chewing and the wind outside.
In this scenario, you might think that we had an argument or even a big fight that day. Reality is that we were both just very tired.
In our current productivity-obsessed society it’s becoming difficult to enjoy doing nothing. I’m talking about the art of doing absolutely nothing – not even checking your phone or reading a book. The art of sitting on the couch and being alone with only your thoughts. Or even spend time having no thoughts if you’re capable of that. Go to your “nothing box” as I’ve heard a few men say.
Maybe you find it scary to be alone with your thoughts. I personally try to be as busy as possible when I don’t want to deal with something that hurts to think about. You might do the same. But did you notice how much better you feel after you take the time to finally deal with it after all that postponing? Sometimes it might take days, even weeks, before you feel better, but you always do feel better in the end.
Maybe being alone with your thoughts is not scary for you, but you just don’t seem to be able to do nothing. You need to reply to one more email, one more message, check one more time Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. What if someone needs you and they’re trying to get in touch with you? Maybe check just one last time? But it’s never one last time. It usually never ends until it’s finally bedtime. We’re always connected because we can and technology makes it easy. While it has positives, it also has a few negatives.
Maybe it’s not about being scared of being alone with your thoughts nor about the inability to disconnect, but it’s about the inability of doing nothing because it makes you feel useless. As I mentioned before, we live in a productivity-obsessed society and doing nothing can be perceived as a waste of time.
There are a lot of maybe’s, a lot of uncertainties around what’s causing us to be restless and constantly busy. The only certainty is the result: not many of us are capable of being mindful. Not many of us are capable to focus only on one thing, to focus only on the Now and forget about the Past and the Future.
If you’re feeling tired most of your days because of your schedule, there are ways to train your body and mind. Instead of trying to simplify your entire life, start off with simplifying just one thing. For instance, you can try to single-task today: close all the tabs, put your phone away, and only focus on that one task. Or practice saying no: clear your schedule of just one commitment. If you can’t let go of your daily tasks and commitments, you can try to be truly present with your friend/mom/significant other: put away your phone, try to focus on what they’re saying instead of drifting away with your thoughts, and just be with them.
Taking time to do nothing is often such a low priority that we don’t rest until we’ve burned out completely. Do you take time to just be?