We live in a culture that has glorified busyness as a virtue. And yet, it’s no longer the status indicator is never should have been in the first place.
Instead, we now know all too well that the negative impact of this mindset is real, and instances of burnout, anxiety disorders, and stress-related diseases are on the rise. It’s not cool, and it never was.
Now it’s time to counter-intuitively embrace doing absolutely nothing as part of our productivity. The Dutch call it niksen (although I think doing absolutely nothing works just fine).
Become intentionally unintentional
If you’re currently alive, you’re always doing something — even when sleeping. But there are substantial benefits to being intentionally unintentional:
The idea of niksen is to take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless. The less-enlightened might call such activities “lazy” or “wasteful.” Again: nonsense.
Turns out idleness is not only okay, it’s good for you. Taking the time to do nothing can aid your creativity and problem-solving skills.
So rather than trying to power your way to a solution, resist the culture of busyness and make time to just don’t.
Your brain needs to idle
When it comes to learning new things, grinding it out is a bad move. Your brain needs free time to process new information in order to shift it into permanent knowledge.
There’s more. While we think staying constantly busy means we’re living a meaningful life, it ends up making us feel the exact opposite:
When your brain is bombarded with novel stimuli or information, says Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at the University of Southern California, it can struggle to generate purposefulness and meaning.
Failing to make time for simply doing nothing makes us feel out of control and lacking in purpose. And that’s exactly when burnout, anxiety disorders, and stress-related diseases arise.
Just about everything about the “hustle and grind” mentality is so absolutely wrong, it’s shocking. “Work smarter, not harder” means that doing nothing is a requirement, just like exercise, nutrition, and plenty of sleep.
If you want to “crush the competition,” you can — simply by living a better life. Got ’em.
Why Your Brain Needs Idle Time (Elemental @ Medium)