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The Art of Doing Nothing

A woman's legs and hands are visible as she sits on a bed with a book in her and a cup of coffee in her hand.

In today’s world, finding respite and time to unwind is almost a privilege. We have been indoctrinated with the belief that the ‘modern lifestyle’ entails busy-ness beyond compare. If you’re not constantly occupied, you’re probably not doing enough. Productivity has become a major measure of self-worth in this fast-paced world of today.

Have we stopped to ponder – Is this healthy? Is it helping us in any way? Has it made us better or worse as human beings? Are we happy?

The answers are most likely a big NO to all of the above questions I just posed. This lifestyle of hustle and bustle is not favouring any of us at the end of the day. We’re all left feeling more isolated, tired, and unsatisfied than we’d have been a few decades ago.


With social media, even our definition of free-time has become warped in mindless scrolling and self-comparisons. We’re always on Instagram trying to find reasons to hate ourselves and change the way we are.

The Italians have got a bunch of things right, one of them being pizza of course. But they have a concept called ‘La Dolce Far Niente’ which means ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’. I was first introduced to this in Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love which was also made into an acclaimed movie starring Julia Roberts.

This might even be a bit of a foreign concept to some who have dedicated their lives to getting that perfect grade or dream job or running a successful business.

While all of this is super valid and fulfilling in its own way, I think a lot of us have just forgotten the concept of ‘just being’.

That’s what the art of doing nothing is all about – simply existing.

In an effort to do everything, leave no stone unturned, and getting ahead of ourselves, we’re always finding ways to fill our days with as many tasks as possible. Everyone wants to constantly be productive and ‘Get Shit Done!’

No doubt productivity is important, not just for our sustainability as humans economically, but for us to have routine and purpose in our lives. However, this need for purpose gets blurred very quickly when we forget the concept of rest and just being.

The art of doing nothing simply implies not engaging in any activity with a specific purpose or end goal. Not everything has to have a monetary outcome to it, and this is something a lot of us have lost sight of today.

There is a race to monetise every possible hobby and interest nowadays and while it’s so great that we have opportunities to do that, we’re also gradually sapping ourselves of the curiosity to learn and do new things just for the fun of doing them, not with an ulterior motive every single time.

As kids, even staring at the sky used to be something that would inspire us with excitement and joy. Contrarily and sadly, as adults, we don’t even take the time to stop and breathe to check in with ourselves anymore until its too late.

This is why doing nothing and just ‘being’ is so vital to our wellbeing. It helps us pause, reflect, and restart.

Some of the ways you can ‘do nothing’ this week are:

  1. Step away from the screen for 15 mins and just sit in silence with yourself. Don’t make an effort to be a certain way. Just be.
  2. Pick up a light read and get lost in it for some time.
  3. Sit in your balcony/garden in the evening and look at the sunset skies. No phones allowed but you can put some soothing music in the background if you wish to. (My personal favourites are lo-fi playlists on YouTube!)
  4. While drinking your morning/evening tea or coffee, don’t tune into any newspaper, podcast or tv channel, just sit with your cup and relish every sip.
  5. For one Saturday/Sunday, let your day off flow as it’s meant to. Don’t plan for anything, just go with what feels right.

Doing nothing is a lot easier than it seems. In our hustle promoting culture, it seems to be a feat in itself to go a few hours without being productive in some way but trust me, your mind and body will be thankful for it.

So just take a deep breath and let go. Always remember – your worth isn’t defined by your productivity.

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Arushi Tandon is the Editor at Unhurry and a Holistic Health Coach; you can find more about her HERE. For more such articles and content on health & wellness, don’t forget to follow us! 

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