The Art of Doing Nothing

Jennifer FlatenThis blog by Jennifer Flaten

It was one of those internet lists, I believe it was entitled 10 things your grandparents did better than you…or something similar.

I clicked on the link and read the list; it contained many predictable items like sewing and canning. Sure, I know several people who can and sew, but for a majority of people, they simply figure it is easier to buy it from the store.

One of the last items on the list was actually quite a surprise-Doing nothing.

Huh. Doing nothing. At first, glance you would think doing nothing and being good at it isn’t something you should be bragging about, but then I thought about (yes, while sitting quietly) and determined that I think more people should try this.

The author or would it be compiler of the list said her grandmother was a master of sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and staring out the window. That’s it, not making a dinner list, not trolling the internet, not trying to reach the insurance agent. No, she is just sitting quietly with her thoughts…or perhaps, even, with a blank mind.
Maybe it is because my grandparents raised me, but I too am a master at sitting and doing nothing and I am proud of it.

You can call it woolgathering or daydreaming, but the point is sometimes I sit somewhere doing absolutely nothing. I am not multi-tasking, I am doing one thing…okay, so maybe two things…sitting and thinking.

Yes, there are times when faced with a complex problem I prefer to take a long walk to sort it all out, but on any given day, I just enjoy sitting quietly doing-gasp-nothing.

Part of the reason I don’t mind waiting for kids, appointments whatever even when I don’t have a book or knitting to occupy myself is that I can just sit quietly. I rather enjoy it in fact. Sometimes I am people watching, sometimes I am nature watching, sometimes I am here but not here if you get my drift.

If you haven’t mastered the art of doing nothing I highly recommend you try it.

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9 thoughts on “The Art of Doing Nothing

  1. Great post, Jennifer, and great advice! I am not a master of this — I have to always be doing something! Even at the cabin, I’m walking, writing, or reading, but at times, briefly in the morning or evening, I sit on the porch and stare, say a prayer of thanksgiving, and then usually walk or write. I think I will try to just sit and do nothing for a bit longer next time I’m at the cabin — thank you for the encouragement to do so!


  2. I don`t do nothing, but to some people, that might appear not to be the case. For example, while lisening to the synthetic speech voice on my iPad read this blog post, I`m sitting in a lawn chair in my back yard, doing nothing else except occasionally sipping from a can of Dr. Pepper. That`s as close to doing nothing as it gets.

    Sent from my iPad



  3. So interesting. I used to have the “Art of Doing Nothing” down. I loved to sit in a swing or climb a tree and think. Now, I’ve mastered “Thinking on the Go”, but it’s not as much fun. I used to sit quietly at night, in the dark, with my dad–doing nothing, but having a great time. Cher’ley


  4. Doing nothing is the greatest gift I can give myself. I loved this post and thank you for bringing the idea back to life. Doris


  5. Hey, Jennifer. Reading the column got me to remember a few incidents from my childhood … in this case time spent at my Grandma Mid. She wasn’t very good at doing nothing. When we were at her house for lunch or dinner, she never sat; she’d always stand while everybody ate. I have a photo of a meal where we are sitting at the kitchen table and Grandma Mid is — what else — standing behind us. I do recall her sitting in the living room drinking a giant glass of iced tea. I miss her terribly; she’s been gone now for 19 years.


  6. I cannot say how true your words are Jennifer. For most of my life I have not taken time to “stop and smell the roses”. I’ve always had too much to do! It’s only in the last two years (since the concussion) that I have experienced the joy of just “being”. It’s helped me in so many ways by giving me the peace and relaxation I need. Everyone should read this post – it’s so true for all of us! Thank you for these words of wisdom!


  7. Wonderful, Jennifer. I used to be really good at doing nothing–and I’m getting better at it again. And I agree that it is important. Thanks for this post! Stephanie


  8. Great post and excellent affirmation of a spirit renewing process I believe. I wish more kids these days were allowed to sit and do nothing, and spend time by themselves instead of enrolling in multiple activities outside of school. It is an art to do nothing and not feel guilty about it! Good for you. Neva


  9. My granny would have had a fit if anyone was caught ‘doing nothing’ but I definitely think it’s a fantastic idea, Jennifer. So good I might just try it – after I get caught up on all of the wrangler posts! Nice topic. 🙂


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