Doing Nothing Can Be A Life Changer

Social researcher and author Hugh Mackay writes of the current rare opportunity we have all been given, to slow the pace, to allow time to drift and dream . . .

Busyness is like a contagious disease; an epidemic. One of its symptoms is the way we now greet each other: revved-up by our busyness we say, “How’re you going – busy?” as if you have to be busy to be taken seriously. In fact, busyness is bad for our health and bad for our relationships. It can insulate us from our social responsibilities, from intimacy or even from our kids: Don’t disturb Mummy – she’s busy”.

But now, when the world has hit the pause button, we have been handed a rare opportunity to slow the pace. Less travel; less stress; less rush [unless you are working from home, supervising schoolwork and running a household]. Many of us dream of “doing nothing”, but when the prospect of some actual downtime looms, it can seem scary. Have no fear: as a sentient being, you can’t actually do nothing – that’s if you regard thinking as doing something.

Doing nothing really means doing something that isn’t structured, scheduled and focused on an outcome. How can we do it? First, put a clear boundary between your work time and your downtime. Second, put your smartphone away. Third, in the little bits of do-nothing space you have created, let yourself drift and dream. No agenda! No lists! Maybe try asking yourself a few overdue questions: Who am I really? What matters to me? What are my true priorities? Does my life reflect the values I claim to espouse? Do I spend enough time with people I love?

Do-nothing time creates a golden opportunity for the sort of introspection we’re normally too busy to engage in. Done right, doing nothing can be a life changer”.


HOW TO: DO NOTHING | Hugh Mackay | The Weekend Australian 18-19 April 2020


My thanks to Hugh Mackay. His next book, The Inner Self, will be published by Pan Macmillan in August.