In praise of quiet and doing nothing

I like doing nothing.

That’s not something I hear many other people say. But I rather like saying the things people don’t often say or don’t want to admit.

I like naps and slow showers and playing solitaire while listening to music.

Although I’ve never read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” I’m going to guess taking naps and being fairly unproductive are not on the list. Nonetheless, those are habits I’m fond of.

But then again, I don’t want to become a CEO. I’ve never cared about society’s traditional definition of success. It’s boring.

To me success is living deeply and sucking out the marrow of life, to quote my favorite transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau. Living deeply means giving myself the space and quiet to think and contemplate every aspect of life. It means keeping my schedule fairly empty outside of work and running so I can spend my evenings studying the world around me and writing about it; so that I have the energy for my lifelong journey of creating the person I want to become. It means, essentially, doing nothing.

Because when I do nothing and free my mind from a specific task, it blossoms. In this space I give myself, I grow. I want to walk through the trees, notice how ice forms after a winter storm, notice the behavior of small animals and wonder at the stars. Through this lazy behavior, I find my true meaning of life. I’ve determined what success means to me rather than using someone else’s definition.

When I don’t have this space, I get frantic. My mind becomes useless. I’m exhausted.

My life is not built around accomplishments in a career or running; it’s focused on the process. Promotions and PRs come through the day-to-day work and growth, both physical and emotional. Accomplishments are valuable, but they are not everything.

There are plenty of other people like me out there: the introverts, the ones who need space from the world because it can become too much for us.

Once upon a time, I’d berate myself for wanting to stay in and think. Then I realized there was no point in being mad at myself for doing what I want to do. I actually love those evenings and prefer them to an evening out or joining a club or doing volunteer work. Once I let myself be myself, my life felt even more rich and those evenings seemed even more special.

If you like doing nothing, embrace it. Your brain will thank you.




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