Busyness is addiction

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I do nothing daily. It is my meditation.

Doing nothing is something I crave. A go-to vaccine when it seems everything is slipping away is to sit around doing nothing.

It seems contradictory. Right? Do, and nothing do not go hand in hand. If there is a doing, then how can it be nothing?

What I intend to tell is- It is nothing that I do.

I lay dead in my bed motionless. No movement, no thinking. In a world filled with stress, anxiety, and a never-ending to-do list, it’s impossible to find time to do, well, nothing.

You are in constant pursuit of some goal or thought. To do nothing becomes a crime as you dread the feeling of inactiveness. It’s a radical idea molded in ways that are suited to oneself. If I lay motionless in my bed, you can try just being. Find your nothing is all that is required.

In the late 1950s, philosophers and scholars debated the effects of modernization and technological advances. They argued about the possibility of too much leisure time at their disposal and how to overcome that. 

Look around- Do you feel people have an overdose of leisure? If only, it seems people are putting in a crazy amount of time and feel depressed. 

So, what happened? I mean, the technological advancements were for ease of living. Do you find that around you? I see all grumpy and tired faces. People busy or pretending to be occupied.

We are a part of an always-on culture. The possibility of doing nothing seems nonsensical and illogical.

In these times of unprecedented advancements that have enhanced human potential, why does daily life feel awful and anxiety-inducing?

Why aren’t things easy and comfortable?

Busyness is addiction

We try to fill every hour of our day with something. We want to work around things all the time. Agree, there are critical things, but mostly they are not. We pick up various tasks and keep pushing ourselves aggressively and boast about it. Staying busy is our addiction. 

We get lost when there is nothing. It is like feeling incomplete. We pride ourselves on this busyness, believing it lends us purpose, and we are the most productive of all.

I love it too. Extracting every second of the daily hours given to us is what we are here for, except that it is not true.

I need eight hours of sleep, walking, gym, work, writing, and leisure- Everything. 

Toiling hard was my way. When things finally got away, I realized that what looked like being productive was merely being busy. I did less and thought more about doing more. There was no breathing space but unnecessary clutter.

Doing nothing doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping or laying dead in bed like me ( though you can try ). It is a non-scheduled period when you putter away. With our over obsessiveness with the work mentality that keeps us occupied, there has to be a zero period; The time you flow without planning your next move or a world-changing idea.

Jeff Bezos loves doing nothing

You think of Jeff Bezos doing nothing, and it baffles. Imagine the richest man in the world doing nothing while you keep slogging away and yet reach only as far. 

Jeff says- the most valuable time of his day is the time when he does nothing.

In a book called Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, he writes:

” I like to putter in the morning. I get up early. I go to bed early. I like to read the newspaper. I like to have coffee. I like to have breakfast with my kids before they go to school. So my puttering time is important to me.”

Fathom this. 

The richest man said he loves doing nothing. He further mentions that he takes his first meeting only by 10 a.m. because he likes to, well, just putter, or doing nothing if you may. 

Pretty sure people start their day with phones in their hand, throughout the poop session, and then feeling exhausted as some influencer posts a massively filtered pic of Maldives vacation. Discontent creeps in, and the days start with anxiety and the feeling of discontentment.

You toil away, even more, to mask the insecurities, immersing yourself into being more productive no matter what. Urge to get more results in long bouts of procrastination and anger. You end up in a vicious cycle of wanting and having with being busy as the only alternative to achieve it.

We hate to hear ourselves think

A study on behavior revealed a startling result. A few years back, some people were put in a room and asked to be with themselves. They had options of sitting by themselves or electrically shocking themselves.

What would you do?

Now, could you imagine the below:

A large chunk of participants chose to shock themselves over the idea of sitting alone with their thoughts.

It is a clear sign of how we hate hearing think to ourselves.

As a modern society, we relish being busy all the time. We look down upon people doing nothing on their weekends and tag them as dumb or lifeless.

Frankly, it has become acceptable to live in this toxic environment. The idea of staying busy and occupied tends to get more affirmative, rather than being thoughtful of self-thoughts. 

It has become a way of life. Try saying someone you took time out to do nothing or think, and you get looked at with disdain. 

What works is

Hey, you free today? 

Busy man. Tight and occupied.

Why do nothing

I say reverse your thought. What are you achieving staying busy and pretending to work all day?

Doing nothing is your answer to society, and the inner consciousness invariably asking you to be occupied. Casually Scroll through the internet or any advice by some mentor, and their tip is to get more done. 

The best way to be more productive and efficient is through the conscious choice of scheduling the unscheduled time; The time you do absolutely nothing.

Over-busyness is counterproductive

We have a messed up thought process, and we confuse effort with effectiveness. Our time on trivial tasks feels exhausting and worthy, so we often wrongly infer the day to be well spent or useful.

Busyness is an effective defense mechanism for warding off thoughts and feelings. It is when doing nothing that we connect and confront what matters.

Doing nothing does not equal not doing anything

Doing nothing is being. It is going with the flow where you resist dictate actions and seek some outcome. Doing nothing equals not doing something you invariably find useful and critical. What you deem important may or may not be valuable for you. Our definitions of value are skewed; to the extent of sheer madness. Posting a great pic (filtered head to toe) for comments and likes is considered a critical task. 

Acquisitions are paramount these days. People work their ass off to earn more and buy stuff as it gives them validation. The tussle to keep moving ahead leaves no breathing space to stop and think. 

So possibly “doing nothing” is the new meditation and a way of connecting within.

Claim your control

Popular cultures follow it: 

The Dutch call it Niksen which translates to ‘nothing-ing.’ 

Italians have dolce far niente, meaning ‘the sweetness of doing nothing.’

The Swedes have their safeguard mechanism preventing busyness, a practice called lagom, meaning ‘not too little, not too much. Just about right’

The Book of Secrets by Acharya Rajneesh (Indian philosopher) mentions various techniques to center your attention and overall well-being. Just staring at a point is one of the practices followed by Ramana Maharishi.

Doing nothing doesn’t equal being obsolete. It implies following a state of peace or downtime that gives you control.

It can be as simple as playing with your kids, having coffee, or as radical as staring at a wall without thoughts overpowering you. The idea is to find the perfect place suited for you to practice forced slowness.

Closing thoughts

It sounds easy, but how do you practice and make it happen if you are accustomed to wandering mind, ticking off lists, and hardly have enough time to think.

Try following a few simple routines:

  • Take a regular break to unwind
  • Find your margin and improve (the difference between activities you are responsible for versus your total bandwidth)
  • Schedule and un-scheduled time frame
  • Go on long walks without your phone

Doing nothing is un-doing of ourselves.

Thanks for reading.

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