The Lost Art of Doing Nothing
Don’t you think it’s time for a break? Plagued—as we are!—by nonstop pings and notifications, we have lost the knack of zoning out. Kicking back. Slacking off. Even when pandemic-induced lockdowns forcibly cleared our calendars, many who thought I’m free! filled their days with Netflix and doomscrolling. How can we reclaim our free time (planned or not) to truly rest and reset?
Cover of The Lost Art of Doing Nothing

When you find yourself feeling stressed; when you perceive that everyone around you are in a state of false sense of busyness and that causes you stress; when you find yourself in a state of ennui (or when you fear being bored); when you need a bulwark against the constant barrage of things that pull at your attention, there is an opportunity of applying a bit of niksen in your life.

Niksen is a Dutch word for to do nothing. It is having nothing to do and not finding something new to do. It is the absence of any other activity.

In recent years, the Scandinavians have inundated the world with their lifestyle trends, including the quest for lykke (happiness), hygge (coziness), and lagom (literally “just the right amount,” meaning being content with what you have). This is all wonderful, of course, but it has little to do with doing nothing. Remember: Niksen serves no purpose whatsoever.

What niksen advocates is to relax and lose yourself in doing nothing, absolutely nothing at all. Take a chill pill, in short. 🙂

Applying niksen in everyday life helps us be creative by forcing the brain to switch to the default mode network and find connections. The simple mindfulness exercise of focusing on your breath promotes calmness for a while. That oasis of calm is sometimes what we need to get up and carry on with our daily life.

I loved the illustrations by Lona Aalders. I picked up this book because of the cover. 🙂

The Lost Art of Doing Nothing: How the Dutch Unwind with Niksen by Maartje Willems, Lona Aalders (Illustrator). Translated from the Dutch by Laura Vroomen. Published in March 2021 by The Experiment.