I was on my evening walk yesterday after work when I came upon this scene. I paused my walk to take in the vista, just letting my mind daydream about anything I noticed and saw right then. After about five minutes of letting my mind go wherever it wanted, I walked on ... actually feeling quite energized.
There's a wonderful article in the New York Times about this mental process that so often gets ignored or demeaned because our culture puts priority on busyness and productivity. Being busy all the time is being used as a badge of honor these days ("I'm so busy because I am just so important."). Daydreaming, doing nothing, is seen as lazy, nonproductive, a waste of time when there's so much that needs to be done. In fact, many people grew up with the old saying, "Idleness is the Devil's playground."
The Dutch actually have a word for this experience of doing nothing - "niksen." It's essentially about stopping, pausing, in order to let your mind wander, like gazing out a window, or simply looking out over a scene (like I did) without any agenda in mind.
Psychologists have picked up this word and are using it as a prescription for mental health and well-being. Research has found that "daydreaming - an inevitable effect of idleness - literally makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas. Total idleness is required."
As a result of niksen, stress levels decline, a sense of calm and peace emerge, and the brain receives new energy.
That's exactly what I experienced on my walk.
So let's hear it for building into our lives more strategic stops designed for simply doing nothing - purposeful pauses for daydreaming. And in so doing, we can reshape our culture away from an obsession with busyness to a more human "being" experience. You might just enjoy it, too. #TheStrategicStop #changingculture #bringingmorehumanitytotheworkplace #niksen #dontbeafraidofjustdoingnothing #idareyou