Why are we so productivity-driven? Is it that we fear taking leisure time is only for lazy people? If you do think that, you need to read this post.
You know the story of the wife that asks her husband, “What’d you do today?” to which is he responds, “Nothin’.” “Well that’s what you did yesterday,” she complains. He then tells her, “Yea… but I didn’t finish.”
The Failure to Plan Rest (or Doin’ Nothin’)
The thing about good jokes or funny stories… they are so often TRUE! Maria Popova in her brilliant blog, Brainpickings, says…
“Today, in our culture of productivity-fetishism, we have come to see the very notion of “leisure” not as essential to the human spirit but as self-indulgent luxury reserved for the privileged or deplorable idleness reserved for the lazy.”
I wish Maria had it all wrong. I wish we genuinely treasured our leisure time. I wish we could admit that “doin’ nothin’” is not only pleasurable, it is necessary for our body, spirit and soul. Even God did nothin’ after six days of hard work.
But no. Not us. We have to be productive—even in our leisure. Our “leisure time” is all about taking our kids to soccer, doing left-over chores, grocery shopping, buying gifts, washing the car or getting it washed and on and on. That’s not doin’ nothin’.
We have somehow come to feel that if we aren’t doing something, then our self-esteem is worth nothing. Busyness has become an indicator of value. One of my favorite quotes from Susan Ertz goes something like, “Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” We’re at a loss without a booked calendar or problem to solve, when the deepest innards of our soul whisper, “Just chill. Gimme a break. I need rest. I NEED to do nothin’.
What IS Doin’ Nothin’
Okay, so I already hear your argument, “what does “nothin’” look like? Do I sit on the corner of my sofa and twiddle my thumbs?” Well, maybe, but probably no. I think the key is that whatever you are doing, it doesn’t HAVE to be done. If you do it, cool. If you fail to do it, no big deal.
For me, doing nothin’ could mean just reading or watching a movie or playing hearts on the computer or even, and perhaps most important, napping.
Here’s a story I think I’ve written about previously. Briefly, it has to do with a driven rich guy on a safari in Africa who continues to have his workers walk far too many miles each day. After about a week he walks out of his tent ready to begin the day only to discover the workers all just sitting around “doin’ nothin’.”
He asks the leaders “what’s up?” and is told the workers have moved too fast and now they are waiting for their souls to catch up.
Isn’t that what you and I need? Just a free day for our souls to catch up. Even if you don’t acutely feel the need, you still need it. And, ironically, after your “soul has caught up” you will discover even higher productivity. Remember, on the seventh day God rested.
What To Do When You’re “Doin’ Nothin
Now is the time when I am supposed to give a couple of tips. I’m afraid all I can talk about are suggestions and options and ideas.
- Doin’ Nothing’ first and foremost means choosing to do things that are not necessary and even more unnecessary to complete.
- Doin’ Nothing’ doesn’t really belong on your calendar. The more impulsive the better.
- Doin’ Nothing’ has no time limit. It can last 15 minutes or 5 hours.
- Doin’ Nothing’ is not typically very productive. But this is not a hard and fast rule. For instance, you may work on a painting or drawing or woodworking or crafting, which can be called productive. But there must be absolutely no stress involved—only pleasure. And completion must not be required.
- Doin’ Nothing’ almost always includes a nap. A few minutes to a few hours will do wonders for your soul.
Give Your Soul a Chance
Photo courtesy of annebaek at istockphoto