the discomfort of doing nothing
In a 2014 study, researchers asked people to either sit alone and do nothing for up to 15 minutes, or give themselves a painful electric shock. two thirds of the men and a quarter of the women pressed the shock button. the crazy part is, it’s not at all surprising. such is the world we live in, that self-administering an electric shock is less painful than being alone with your thoughts.
the thing about doing nothing is that it takes a kind of bravery. it takes a kind of bravery to think “I see the way things are; and I’m going to go against the grain, against what is commonly accepted, against what is normal.” it takes bravery because perhaps you tell your friend, or your mother, or your partner you lay down for 20 minutes and they say something like “well some of us have the life” or “I wish I had the freedom you have” and it brings up doubt. it brings up fear. a fear that people might see you as lazy, a fear that you missed out on achieving something while you were doing nothing. it takes bravery to see that fear and to stop what you’re doing and do nothing anyway. because you know that afterwards you feel better. you know you work better, you think better, you care more.
and every time the busy-ness creeps back up, you rest less and you do more, it becomes harder to stop. the resistance rises. you finally manage to stop and the thoughts are loud. the doubts are loud. the excuses are endless. but day by day, breath by breath, it gets easier. it gets easier because you’re willing to accept yourself more. you’re willing to accept yourself even when the doing nothing doesn’t feel good. even when the people around you think it’s weird. because you were brave enough to go against the culture. you were brave enough to stand up for yourself. to sit with your thoughts. to do nothing. you were brave enough to say no the the quick fix, the shortcut. not many people are brave enough for that.