The art of nothing…

bestWhy wasting time and indulging in nothingness is the new skill to acquire this summer

One of my favourite things to do in this summer heat is to gaze out of the window, daydream, and do nothing ­ nothing at all. Some may call it wasting time, but in the age of `busyness’, idleness is the way to be ­ in fact, it’s the only way to give your mind some much-needed peace, and recharge your batteries, both at the same time.

Take a leaf out of the Italian way of life: La dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing). The idea here is that doing nothing is actually an activity in itself. For eg., did you know that doing nothing can develop your problem-solving ability, make you creative? Or, the fact that it can make you a solution-oriented person? Research says all these qualities are borne out of letting your thoughts wander randomly. In short, when your brain gets time for self-reflection, the quality of your life automatically improves.

The world over, whiling away time is actually becoming a movement as people realise the pointlessness of running on a treadmill of activity. It has depleted their strength to the extent that they can’t function like normal human beings anymore. Says author Manjiri Prabhu, “Doing nothing is actually far more productive than people think. For me, it also includes not thinking of doing anything, taking long walks, connecting with nature, watching movies and listening to music, chatting with friends, family or playing with dogs.These things nourish my soul.“

`DISCONNECTED TIME’ AT WORK

New studies have shown that indulging in hours, even days, of nothingness is a smarter way to live and work. Realising the need to give people’s brains the muchneeded vacuum, companies such as 3M, Pixar, Google, Twitter and Facebook, have made `disconnected time’ a key aspect of their workplace. To be disconnected, is possibly, the first step to an idle mind. In fact, such is its importance in today’s world that France has actually passed a law that came into effect this January. It gives citizens the “right to disconnect“ af ter office hours. In short, they cannot be forced or asked to check official emails or respond to them after work hours.

THEN AND NOW

Earlier, whiling away time was the rhetoric for not doing something useful with life. But in the age of 24×7 `connectedness’, even as we think, we are giving our mind a rest, our fingers are fu riously working on smartphones or laptops while other people’s lives and comments occu py our headspace. Add to it the fact that we love saying “I’m busy“ to everyone.

A fad apart, `busyness’ is a sort of self serving indulgence we love to revel in. Ex perts worldwide have started warning about the ill effects of this addiction that creeps up silently. Recent studies have shown that our brains get a dopamine hit each time we experience something new. So every time we scroll through our Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp mes sages, we get a `high’.

Idleness or `nothingness’ as a feeling cannot be easy to come by in such a scenario.

WHY WE ARE AFRAID…

Life coach Jasmin Waldmann says people shy away from doing nothing simply because “it’s scary!“ She explains, “You are confronted with your inner self, and not all of it is `sunshine’.“ Thus, instead of letting our thoughts wander off to some hard questions, we tend to be happy with mindless activities -phone, social media, TV, etc -that lets us live in the happy bubble we have created around ourselves. Author Sanil Sachar’s reasons for the unease is a little different. He says, “Everyone is running to outdo others in this made up rat race. There’s a fear of doing nothing because people think someone else is doing something you should be indulging in.“

So, how does one go about the idea of being idle? Next time, your car stops at the traffic signal, give your mind a break instead of muttering under your breath.While waiting for a film to begin or a friend to join you for coffee, don’t keep playing with your phone ­ just let your mind rest. In the midst of work, let your mind wander to far-off places, or just let it be blank. As someone said, a blank slate is the best place to begin afresh.

by : NONA WALIA

SOURCE : SUNDAY TIMES

 

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