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  • Writer's pictureLaura Roeven

Deliciously Doing Nothing

We need nothingness. The Dutch call it, deliciously doing nothing, “lekker niksen”. Our brains and bodies can relax with nothing. No internet time. No doing. Just delicious being. Nothingness can reduce stress, anxiety and produce feelings of wellbeing.

“I sat in my backyard all afternoon and did nothing. Whenever I do nothing I feel I've accomplished a lot.” ― Marty Rubin

History offers examples of our brightest minds doing nothing in order to come up with the theories that have changed human history. Einstein and Newton appeared like they were doing nothing. Staring off into space, wondering, being still. Being able to do nothing and wonder allows the brain time and space to put things together.

In an age and time when nothing is “off”, we have to choose the off switch. The Economic Policy Institute reports that productivity has increased by 108% since 1948 and continues to climb. There are only so many hours in the day. The world will keep us moving, watching, working and interacting. There is a silent demand for “on”. Not choosing “off” creates a perpetual “on” that can drive up anxiety and stress. The off switch has to be turned by us.

“What you do today will affect you 90 days from now.” ― Johnnie Urban, Stop The Madness: How the Highly Sensitive Person Can Thrive in a Chaotic World

What I discovered about lekker niksen, nothingness, is that it is hard. It took me a bit to get the hang of not looking at screens or finish that one thing. To combat doing, I started building fires in the evening. I am creating this as my ritual in the darkest days of winter.

Creating a fire in the hearth, I stoke, poke, and tend to the light and heat radiating out of the firebox. It’s grounding to watch the different colors show up with the varying heat and combustion. I notice that I review my day and find things to appreciate. My mind quiets and I imagine. Sometimes it’s future imaginings. Sometimes it reviews something that didn’t go well and untangles it. But mostly, I tend to the fire. The physical effects are relaxation, warmth, pleasure, and a feeling of abundant time. That’s a rare feeling in a culture of rush, produce, do. Johnnie Urban said, “What you do today will affect you 90 days from now.” Imagine 90 days of a little nothing and all that can be accomplished by it.

Lekker Niksen everyone!


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