Friday, March 4, 2011

Contentment: A Do-Nothing Day

Yesterday was a Do-Nothing Day. That does not mean it was unimportant, uneventful or worthless. I didn't spend hours numbing my brain by staring at a TV or computer display. I actually accomplished a lot yesterday.

Here I often spend those days

Do-Nothing simply means that I do not start with an agenda. There are no concrete goals. I just concentrate on the moment and find out what the day will bring. Do-Nothing Days are luxurious. Usually a Do-Nothing Day is the best kind of day.

Do-Nothing Days are not only a luxury, they are a great privilege, not to be wasted. With so many people around the world struggling every day of their lives with survival, or demanding jobs, social and family obligations, being able just to exist for a few hours or a day without worrying about food, shelter, health, safety, appointments, or taking into consideration others' opinions of what you are doing, is a blessing and a responsibility.

And others' opinions -- criticism -- is what you sometimes will hear if you tell people you are "doing nothing." You're a good-for-nothing, lazy, a bum, a slacker. In our culture, the standard wisdom is that you should always be doing something: you must accomplish. It's your social and patriotic duty to have a job and earn money so you can contribute to the economy by going shopping, and by doing so to create jobs and keep the whole, increasingly precarious house of cards that is the world economy standing. Idle hands are the devil's tools. You must be productive.

Frankly, I think one of the best things one can do for the planet is to have a Do-Nothing Day. It is peaceful; you are not destroying anything, polluting, contributing to global warming or wasting resources on superfluous and silly things. And if you like, it's free, without cost.

A Do-Nothing Day consists of simply appreciating the good there is in the world and enjoying without consuming, without wasting. How does one do that? Here are some things that
I try to do:

Be in the moment, here and now. Be constantly aware of your surroundings and of what you are doing. Try to silence the inner critical voice, the internal dialog that goes on inside your head. If you just asked yourself "what internal dialog?" well, that's the voice I am talking about. Don't fret about problems or unfinished business. Do not plan or think about tomorrow. Do not criticize yourself. Just observe and be self-aware in the current moment.

Concentrate on the gifts nature has given us. Use your senses to appreciate what is around you: colors and textures; air movement and temperature changes; aromas and tastes, natural and human-created rhythms and sounds. This is easier to do at first if you concentrate on one sense at a time.

Breathe and smile. No further instruction needed. This makes you feel good.

Dedicate time to think about the good things, all of the positive things you have in your life.

If you talk with friends, really listen. Practice listening, making contact and focusing on that person.

Do-Nothing does not mean you have to stay home and sit in a chair, although for me spending some time alone in a pleasant place is important. These can be good days to work on creative projects, or mop the floors for that matter (but you shouldn't do those things unless you feel like it). Many of the things I list above can be done while you are involved in other activities.

Do-Nothing Days often turn out to be days of pleasure and accomplishment. They are days of full living, because to-do lists, obligations and "work" take a back seat to just enjoying being a sensitive, thinking animal alive on this planet.


  1. I love Do-Nothing days. I only do the things I enjoy. It might mean spending most of the day reading a good book, or crafting or sunning myself by the pool. If people think I'm being a lazy bum, well...that's their problem, not mine.

    I indulge in Do-Nothing moments each and every day. It helps to keep me balanced mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

  2. Reminds me of Ram Dass

    Be Here Now

  3. Ron is right. You are a little bit like Ram Dass, Marc. My do nothing days usually involve a hammock.

  4. Hey, did you notice the face created by the shadows in the top right hand corner?

  5. What a nice post to read, couldn't agree more.
    I aspire to take Slackerness to an all-time-high. Or low, depending on your philosophy. This after way too many days with alpha-numeric pagers, Plectrons, Motorola radios, cell phones, landlines, computers yada yada yada.
    I am now living in the moment, or as it's called in Buddhism - mindfulness and loving kindness. Metta!

  6. Thanks, friends, for your comments. Of course I didn't invent any of this on my own, and have taken ideas over time from various philosophies and writers. These are things that work for me. It's a start. I am a novice. It's working, little by little.

    Yes, Barb, now I notice the little face in the shadows. I think it must represent that "little voice" that I can't always manage to quiet down.

  7. My philosophy and motto has always been, "doing nothing is doing something".

    Just discovered your blog. I like your writing and photos a lot.


  8. Babs: Thanks for your interest and positive comments.

    I just took a look at your blog, and am adding it to my list. Looks like we have some interests and attitudes in common. It will be interesting to "read you" as time moves along.

  9. I just discovered your beautifully written posts and hope to visit some of the earlier writings. We hope to experience some Do-Nothing Days in our new Merida home. Will only be down sporadically for a year or so, but have "put it out to the Universe" to possibly speed up the time-line.

    About fifteen years ago I sat in on an impromptu gathering with Ram Das and about 20 other men at a retreat in upstate New York. We sat cross-legged on the floor and listened to him for about 2 hours. Amazing man. I will never forget that experience. John

  10. John, thanks for the comments. If your experience is any like mine was a few years ago, once you" put it out there" to speed up the time-line, if its really for you, things will start to move pretty fast.

    I've recently discovered your blog. I'll keep an eye on it...



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