I got out of bed and started a magazine called The Idler, in order to remind people of the forgotten, simple pleasures of doing nothing. I even wrote books about it. And, yes, you could say that idleness became my life’s work. So, based on all those years of tough-going research, here are my top tips for people who find it difficult to just be.
4. Go bumbling. Bumbling is a nice word that means “wandering around without purpose.” It was indulged in by the poets of 19th-century Paris. They called themselves flâneurs and were said to have taken tortoises around on leads, which gives you an idea of the tempo of their rambles. Children are good bumblers. Try making a deliberate effort to slow down your walking pace. You’ll find yourself coming alive, and you’ll enjoy simply soaking in the day.
7. Lie in a field. Doing nothing is profoundly healing―to yourself and to the planet. It is precisely our restless activity that has caused the environmental crisis. So 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.
If you are used to being very busy, a block of time with nothing to do can actually be frightening. What will you do with nothing to do? Initially your mind will race about all the things you should be doing, all the things you are missing out on, and all the things that you have to do when you are done doing nothing. Give it a try anyway, and keep practicing. It will get easier, and then it will become fun, and then you will do whatever it takes to make it part of your daily life.
Gratitude. Use this time to be grateful. Think of 5 things that happened in the past hour that you are thankful for. Let gratitude open your heart to joy.
Spontaneity. You have nothing to do, but if something comes up that makes your heart sing, lean into it.
Simplify everything. That might sound hard, but with practice it’s actually fairly easy, and leads to a quiet, content, lovely life full of space, with only the things in it that matter to me: my family, my writing, with some reading and workouts thrown in.
Block off some disconnected time. The Internet is amazing, but always being connected means you’re always pulled in a thousand directions at once. It’s hard to focus, hard to connect with others, hard to get out into nature and be active. So schedule some time every day for disconnection: maybe a block in the morning where you get your best work done, and a block in the afternoon when you get out and active, or connect with friends or family.
Wash your bowl. When you’re done eating, mindfully wash your bowl. When you’re done with anything, get in the habit of pausing before moving onto the next thing, and cleaning up after yourself. Put your food away. Put your clothes where they belong. Put your keys in one spot. Clean the sink before you leave it. This simple habit will keep you mindful while saving you lots of cleanup later.
In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.__________
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