In praise of doing (absolutely) nothing

I’m practicing sitting still, doing nothing.

I sit outside. I let the sky, clouds, trees, birds, sound of cars, the sun, passers by keep me entertained. It requires no special equipment, nor any special skills, to sit still. It’s free. It can be done anywhere; preferably outside. A bird might shit on you, but that’s life. Getting fresh air and a dose of sunlight is worth the risk.

I sit still.

Quitting social media is the easiest part; so is getting rid of your smartphone, weekly digital sabbaticals, going for a walk instead. The hardest part is the time that remains, infinite.

What do you do with all that time? You can fill it right back up, with 100 things to do offline. There is no shortage of things one can do offline, depending on their interest, skill set, resources. Not everyone can, or wants to, go hiking, or build furniture, or plant a garden, but there is something for everyone to do in the offline world. No matter what we choose to do, however, doing things offline requires more effort than scrolling online.

Except for one thing.

There is one thing that is available to all of us, at any time of the day, without any special skillset or gears: doing nothing. Sitting still. On a bench at the park, soaking up the sun, the clear sky, trees, checking out the overly excited puppies and enjoying the sound of birds.

If you have time to read this post, I can safely assume you are not so busy to find time out of your day to experience the delight of doing nothing. Even if you are so busy, we can all find pockets of moments in our days to do nothing, sit still, for a few moments: in traffic, waiting for your drive thru coffee, waiting for a meeting to start.

I won’t lie and say it will be easy.

A mind used to constant stimulation, chatter, keeping busy will rebel. It can feel painful, even physically uncomfortable, to sit still and do absolutely nothing. But these feelings only last the first few moments. A few seconds or minutes of resistance, before easing into the joy of doing absolutely nothing.

Still. Calm. Lovely.

Don’t just do something. Stand there.”

Until next time,

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  1. Nance Carney Avatar
    Nance Carney

    I really like this post, and the quote. Thank you for these posts, Mehret.
    I’m closing this computer now to let my mind out on a wander.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mehret Biruk Avatar
      Mehret Biruk

      I hope you enjoyed some time away from your computer. Thank you for reading!


  2. Austin Avatar

    It’s wild how much things have changed in just a few decades – when I was a kid we had to drive to the video store to rent a movie, otherwise we could only watch TV or re-watch movies we had already seen. Aside from these things, no one was really using the internet and certainly no one had smartphones. Our brains didn’t evolve with all this stimulation and distraction – it’s no wonder why many of us experience problems as a result. I guess in the past many people had no real choice but to spend a lot of time sitting and watching the world, but now it seems like a struggle to even sit and do nothing for a few minutes of the day. Your post is a great reminder – thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mehret Biruk Avatar
      Mehret Biruk

      All I want is to spend a lot of my time to sitting and watching the world around me. It feels… right, I don’t know how else to explain it, and when we’re not filling our time with fake busyness, there’s so much time left to just be and observe the world around us.
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts 🙂


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