Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Idleness is a virtue

We're busy doing nothing,
Working the whole day through.
trying to find lots of things not to do,
We're busy going nowhere,
Isn't it just a crime?
We'd like to be unhappy,
We never do have the time.

So the song says, and who are we to argue with those lyrics. Although as it turns out, it makes a very good point!

Do you ever feel like you're constantly chasing your tail, or that time is running away with you. Which would be lovely if it decided to run away to the Bahamas, but sadly we normally remain under our anticyclonic gloom filled skies. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had a little more time to do the things we want, or more importantly, to do nothing at all.

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want", is a quote is from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. Who was basically reminding us that sometimes it's best to do nothing at all. The trouble is we're all so busy, and when we're not busy, we're filling our time with other things to do that keep us busy. It's like we're addicted to tasks! Then if we don't do them, we end up feeling guilty about not being busy. 

Well I'm here to tell you to stop feeling guilty about it. Enjoy those down times when you're scratching around for something to do. Make the most of any and all moments nothingness. Savour the slothfulness and languish in the languorousness. You deserve some down time – we all do! In fact we actually need it!

I'm not suggesting that we all just start slacking off and just stay in bed all day, but 'nothing time' is almost as important to your brain's health as sleeping is. Pondering and procrastinating, and embracing all your day dreams all help your brain to function. Scientists and people far brainier than me have proven that mentally switching off actually helps you understand decisions better. You learn things quicker. You even become more creative and our productivity gets better. It improves our heart rate and can actually improve our bodies function of fighting illness. As it turns out, neuroscientists are now saying that always busying ourselves with something actually diminishes the quality of our lives. 

We can't all be inactive all the time sadly, but it certainly should be an item on our 'to-do' list that we seem to be losing touch with. You don’t have to become a monk or go on a retreat where you sit in isolation in a room and meditate for months in order to reap the benefits of doing nothing. You only need to silence your mind, and devote yourself to idleness, for just five to ten minutes a day. Preferably a few times throughout the day. 

Like all things, it's about balance of course, but the next time you're sitting at the bus stop, maybe leave your phone in your pocket. Take a walk without plugging in headphones now and again. Or just lay back on the sofa and procrastinate away to your hearts content. A lot of things in life happen at warp speed these days and if you don't slow down once in a while and stop to look around, you just might miss something wonderful. 

Do look after yourself, and each other.

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