3 reasons why NOTHING is the most productive thing you could ever do

By Seamus Anthony

By Steve Mills

For most of our daily life, we are completely saturated with ideas and messages that do not originate from ourselves. Walk down the street and you are bombarded with advertisements, sit down on the internet and you are quickly mind boggled by the sheer amount of content available. The modern world has provided us with access to information that would be beyond the wildest dreams of someone even 20 years ago.

The paradox is with access to so much information about other things; we have become detached from a large amount of knowledge and wisdom about ourselves. There are so many distractions available, and so many different types of media to consume. The very fact that we may have to sit alone, with our own thoughts for even 30 minutes fills most people with a small sense of dread.

I am sure that this is not the natural state of human consciousness. In the past, you would assume that there were vast stretches of time, once food and shelter had been looked after, that men and women would be able to sit around and think. In this time they would have the power to consciously address the contents of their minds, rather than let themselves run on autopilot, never really exploring the depths of their inner life.

People in modern society however just aren’t used to the idea of having nothing to do, and we have been pre-conditioned to think that time not being productive or time spent with our internal thoughts and feelings is wrong. We get the idea that time with ourselves is time wasted, and so we push on without really taking stock of our own mental landscape. It seems as if the only types of introspection that people undertake on a regular basis are based on worry and anxiousness. People worry about the future endlessly, and they go over past events with an eye to what they could have done better.

Most people will do just about anything to escape their own company and feelings of “boredom.” They will read 5 year old gossip mags while waiting for the dentist, or watch endless repeats of shows on TV. They will surf the internet aimlessly, going to the same sites over again. But in reality, a little time addressing “boredom” is extremely well spent. When the mind finds that it has nothing active to address, it brings up unprocessed information, allowing it to come up to the surface, and be “seen” by your conscious mind. Your worries, your frustrations, your fixation on things like work, being productive or becoming free. All of these things which are always “kind of there” in the background become more real and tactile.

The three different points below are things that you can try to address next time you find yourself with a spare hour and nothing to do. Just sit and let the mind go where it wants, without your conscious interaction :

1. Use the time to break cyclic thinking
Realise that your mind is the most powerful tool and resource we know of in the UNIVERSE. There has been nothing more complex ever discovered. Although it may not fit in with a number of current scientific paradigms, I am here to tell you that for most practical purposes, YOU (the observer you) are in control of your brain and your thoughts.

If you find yourself in these times of introspection going over the same thoughts without ever resolving a solution, then make it your goal to break out of that cycle and get some closure. Look for patterns in your thinking, and devise some clear action points to get from where you are, to where you want to be. This is not worry time, this is looking at the deeper thoughts and addressing them head on.

As the Buddha said “Strive for your own liberation with diligence.”

2. Is there someone you need to call?
Quite often in times of introspection, my thoughts will (for no apparent reason that I can fathom at the time) find their way to a past or current friend or acquaintance. I think about something they once said, or what they are doing, or things that I may have said to them.

I can’t tell you the number of times that this has happened, and a week or so later I get a phone call or email from the person saying they really want to catch up with me, or I hear through the modern grapevine (facebook) that they are in need of something, or having a rough time. If you have thoughts about people that may have once been part of your life, perhaps it is time to give them a call “just because” and see what is going on.

3. Get to know your true self.

I am sure that there a lot of people out there in blogoland that don’t even know who they really are. I mean at a deep level, life is a process of discovering exactly who we are as people.

In quiet times, is there a voice inside you saying that the life you are presently living is not for you, that you yearn to do something different? Modern life is very good at pigeonholing people into neat little boxes, and railroading them into careers that sound promising, but in reality are a minefield of stress and boredom. Use the time to look at the possibilities, not just a few but the massive set of options that are available to everyone. I heard it said in the last week that people under a great deal of stress can only see 3 options at most to any situations, where in reality there may be 100’s

Also I am sure that there are people very well acquainted with their ego selves, as they see that aspect expressed every day, but not the true, deeper self that is connected to the universe and everyone else around you. That aspect needs time to come out on its own, in quiet and creative time. By listening to the quieter voices within, we get a sense of the whole of ourselves, and a more intimate understanding of the parts of our personality that make us unique.

As the Greek philosophers were fond of saying “Know Thyself!

To find your true purpose, click here to get the first Rebel Zen Ebook – Its FREE!

Hi, I'm Seamus Anthony. I am an author, artist and musician from Australia. Here at Rebel Zen, I document my journey as an creative artist and human and in doing so, hopefully help you in your own progress through your life of creativity. Go get your free E-book by me: "Taming The Monkey Mind".

6 comments Write a comment

  1. I would love to read about experiences of those who actually attempt trying to do nothing. In my childhood days, I used to marvel at the fact that my father could comfortably sit, do nothing and still be peaceful and happy. I always had to create a ruckus somewhere – externally or within my mind. It’s only after I connected within that I have been able to do ‘nothing’

    Avani-Mehtas last blog post..How To Pick Your First Anger Management Area – Anger Management Series Part IV

  2. Let me share a great nugget I got from an ex emergency room doctor. He said:

    “Don’t just do something. Just stand there.”

    In ER, they work under incredible pressures. To decide quickly, to act fast. But if you decide and act before gathering all the facts and forming proper perspective, you run the risk of misdiagnosing. The point was not to rush into decision, thinking doing something is better than nothing.

    Doing nothing is actually much better, and more courageous choice, than doing something “just because.”


  3. yes!
    And don’t be turned off by the desperate uncomfortable feeling you may have in the early days of learning to enjoy solitude or silence – “the nothing” It helped me to begin by simply turning off the radio or the TV, driving without any noise for an hour and hearing only myself…observing the thoughts …coming in and going out. I am so glad I found your site. Thank you for what you give.

    Harmonys last blog post..The Power Broker Bust (pt 2 of 4)

  4. Thanks for the great comments everyone. Embracing the idea of doing nothing is a tough one for a lot of people to handle.

    @Avani – Yes I think some people can do it naturally, but for most it is something that needs to be learned. Kids do it naturally sometimes, but quite often the will start to play up if the are not kept occupied by something

    @Writer Dad – Yes that kind of still is endangered for any parent. Seamus and I know what you are on about there.

    @Ari – Yes I find that quite often it is the most busy looking people that actually do the less productive work, and those that sit back and let situations emerge and settle do the best

    @Harmony – I know the discomforting feeling all too well, but am glad that you had the courage too simply enjoy the experience, let go and spend a little time with your thoughts.

    Steve Millss last blog post..Snoozer and the Old Dude

Leave a Reply