The Art of Doing Nothing

Doing nothing calms the soul. Doing nothing creates peace. Doing nothing helps create meaningful action. Doing nothing lets you start your something.

Doing nothing isn’t easy. We all want to be productive and get stuff done, so we consume ourselves with being busy. Meetings, emails, phone calls, text messages, instant messaging, commuting, and multitasking have all become a part of our busy lives. Doing these things make us feel busy, but are we actually getting anything meaningful done?

We live in a world that views doing nothing as laziness. But doing nothing isn’t about being lazy or passive. Doing nothing is about being still. The amount of time doesn’t matter whether it’s ten seconds or ten minutes. What matters is that you’re still. You need to slow down, stop, and center yourself.

The Art of Doing Nothing

When you start doing nothing, you start working towards meaning. Our natural state is not to be idle, but to be in constant motion. But in order to make sure our motion is going in the right direction, we first need to be still. We need to remove the noise of our busy lives, stop our movement, and let gravity pull us down.

If we remove false needs, goals, expectations, and purposes, we strip away the need to do much of what we do. We can then be left with an emptiness that can be filled only with what’s necessary, with what’s natural, with what’s beautiful.

~Leo Babauta, The Effortless Life

In order to start doing nothing, you need to be able to stop doing things, especially in the mornings, that deter you from doing that. So make sure you:

  1. Don’t check your emails.
  2. Don’t read the news or any social media.
  3. Don’t watch TV.

Early mornings are the easiest times to do nothing. The world is quiet, most people are still asleep, and your mind is generally free of all the busy stuff that comes with a normal day. Treat your mornings as sacred times to do nothing each day. This process of doing nothing and being still involves three steps.

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

Ten seconds of breathing at the start of your day can make all the difference. When you inhale, feel the air going through your nostrils and filling your lungs. When you exhale, feel the air leave your body through your mouth. Control your breath. Focus on your breath. And do this as long as you need to eliminate all the noise and thoughts in your head.

Once your mind is empty, you’ll be able to be fill it up with everything that is meaningful. You’ll be able to prioritize what you need to accomplish for the day. You’ll lift the burden of trying to always be busy. You’ll start aligning yourself with your most authentic values and principles, so that you can start living the life you were meant to live. You’ll be inspired for real action to make your dreams come true.

Doing nothing by sitting still and breathing can transform your life. You’ll be more centered and confident. You’ll be more compassionate and mindful of others. You’ll be grateful for every moment of your life. And you’ll be happier because you are more grateful and content.

When you wake up each day, start your day off right by doing the most important thing first. Do nothing. Sit still. Breathe. Meditate. Pray. Then open your eyes. You’re now ready to take on the world.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.

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