As soon as I saw this title, I knew it was something that I wanted to read. Already a big fan of just taking time out to “be”; I long to spend more time without distractions and todo lists, and chores and noise. This book promises to provide you with “a real-life guide to stepping back, slowing down, and creating a simpler, joy-filled life”. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Straight away I loved the simplicity of the book’s cover and the fact that it’s not a mammoth, heavy read. It’s filled with useful observations and thought-provoking tips, much too many to discuss here. However, these are five things that resonated with me.
So what does “doing nothing” involve? – here are some tips from the book:
- “Your brain should be in idle mode, and you should feel relaxed and peaceful”
- “It should feel easy to walk away from the activity”
- “Physical intensity should be very low or nonexistent.”
- “Your mind and body should move and work with little effort.”
- “It should also be fun! This isn’t a chore or obligation.”
Rachel goes on to say that doing nothing should be a joy and you should develop your own parameters. What would doing nothing look like for you? Think about it. For me, it would be drinking coffee whilst gazing out of the window; a gentle walk along the lake shore with no particular destination; or relaxing in my room with a blanket and a good book.
If you’re struggling with the concept of “doing nothing’ – then rebrand it – Don’t think of it as wasting time or being lazy; think instead of the many restorative effects it can have on you and those around you. Amongst other things, it can help reduce stress; improve your health and digestion; strengthen your relationships and even help you to become more productive at work. Struggling to find the time? Start with what Rachel calls the “fringe hours”, the hours before you go to bed and get up in the morning. Start with small changes. Instead of reaching immediately for your phone or the kettle in the morning, train yourself to be still for five minutes…just to be. Start small, and build on it.
It enables you to develop a new perspective – a glass is half-full kind of perspective. As Rachel says, “The usual delays in life like traffic, or someone being late for a meeting, are no longer irritations but rather opportunities”. Those delays can offer you the chance to relax a little, to rest, to think, to daydream. Practising thinking this way must surely be a good thing, and a chance to lower our stress a little.
It can have a big effect on your lifestyle – Think of doing nothing as “mental decluttering”. The same way that you clear your home, you can use this process to help declutter your mind. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media channels or watching TV, you can be more intentional with your time, your thoughts and your motivation. You can really think about what’s important to you and where you are in life. Do you long to travel, or for a promotion at work; or do you want to work less and live a simpler lifestyle with fewer expenses?
It offers many tips on how to cut back on our addiction to “the white noise of life” – the social media, the billboards, the adverts, the constant distractions. It offers advice on how to cut back on these distractions and achieve a calmer state of being. Tips range from the simple to the more challenging. To start off simply, you might want to turn off the podcast on your way to work, to enjoy the silence; to take in your surroundings instead of your phone screen. Feeling a bit braver? Go offline one day a week – just accept calls and let everything else wait for the following day. And my personal favourite, go somewhere really quiet … I’m thinking of somewhere like Crummock Water where there’s no phone signal and no crowds; but anywhere quiet will do … is there anything better?
All in all, I’ve loved this book and there are so many tips I want to try. A favourite quote to leave you with? That would have to be one from the start of the book, that reminder that we’re “our own CEO. You say how you spend your time. And if you want to spend it floating on a blow-up flamingo in the community pool rather that at the always-turns-ugly office trivia get-together, that’s your right.”
I’d love to hear what your thoughts are about spending time “doing nothing”. Is it something you practise regularly or something that’s new to you? Please comment below if you can 🙂
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