How To Enjoy Doing Nothing

How To Enjoy Doing Nothing

British writer, editor Tom Hodgkinson launched a quarterly magazine ‘The Idler’ in 1993. The magazine gets its title from a series of essays (1758 –...

British writer, editor Tom Hodgkinson launched a quarterly magazine ‘The Idler’ in 1993. The magazine gets its title from a series of essays (1758 – 60) by the same name written by Samuel Johnson, the compiler of the first comprehensive English dictionary in which he had famously quoted “Every man is, or hopes to be, an idler”.

"Go go go! ... skydivers, bungee-jumpers, skateboarders, snowboarders, jet-skiers, surfers, mountain-bikers, off-roaders... Get out there, dude! Awesome! Don't just sit at home! Do something. Do anything! Don't stop. Don't think.

Go for it! Just do it. The idler surveys this dismal mishmash of lifestyle options and decides: just don't do it. Just don't. Don't go – stop," Tom has written this in one of his articles.

He believes that people were freer before the industrial revolution and going back to that kind of lifestyle makes one more productive.

He suggests ways to unlearn being busy and learn to be idle and do nothing. He advises on how to switch off (

  • Banish the guilt: We are all told that we should be terribly busy, so we can’t laze around. When you understand that it hasn’t always been this way, it becomes easier to shake it off.
  • Choose the right role models: Most of the great musicians and poets were idlers. So feed yourself a diet of John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, and the like.
  • Sketch a flower: If you are new to idling and feel compelled to be purposefully occupied, sketching a flower at the kitchen table can be an excellent way to bring some divine contemplation into your life.
  • Bring back Sundays: Now, Sundays are as busy and stress-filled as any other day. Having a day of rest was a very practical idea. We were excused from all labour and devoted ourselves to pleasure and family. Take that ancient wisdom to heart and declare at least one day of the week as a do-nothing day. Don’t clean the house or do the laundry; don’t get in the car. Stay home and eat chocolate and drink wine. Be kind to yourself.
  • Lie in a field: Do some good by taking a break from “doing” and go and lie on your back in a field. Listen to the birds and smell the grass.
  • Gaze at the clouds: Don’t have a field nearby? Doing nothing can easily be dignified by calling it “cloud spotting.”
  • Take a nap: To indulge in a siesta after lunch is the most wonderful luxury. It softens tempers and guards against grumpiness. If curling up in your office isn’t an option, go somewhere quiet, like a church or a park bench, and close your
  • eyes for even just five minutes.
  • Pretend to meditate: Tell everyone you’re going to meditate, then go into your bedroom, shut the door, and stare out the window or read or lie down for half an hour.
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