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An Rodriguez
An Rodriguez

Posted on • Originally published at on

How to do nothing

Doing nothing looks easy but it is actually hard.

For a long time I’ve had the feeling that I needed to do “something” all of the time.

It’s not a matter of work-a-holism. It’s the weird feeling of noticing you are not at ease with actively doing nothing.

Going out, staying in, a call, an email, a book, a note; it’s never ending.

That is of course on top of the everyday shenanigans that we all strive to automate into oblivion (like with implementing credit card auto-payments, auto-deliveries, etc.).

Yes, it sounds indeed strange to “actively” “do nothing” since doing nothing by definition is passive.

Doing nothing is hard.

Doing nothing is harder than it sounds.

It’s so hard that thousand of books have been written about it for thousand of year.

How to do nothing

Lao Tzu (老子), the ancient Chinese philosopher, father of Taoism, born ca 400-600 B.C., described it as Wu Wei (无为), or the action of non-action (in my interpretation), in his foundational book of Taoism, Tao Te Ching (道德經)

If you think about it, “actively doing nothing” is a concept not so difficult to understand.

You can imagine you are in the forest or the park or the street, and it starts to rain. Most people would run.

So, the question I invite you to ask yourself is, why run? Why take any action over the inevitability of the rain? Why not embrace the rain and get wet?

Girl enjoying the rain and getting wet.

Like Bob Marley said,

Some People Feel The Rain, Others Just Get Wet

I am not saying that running from the rain is bad in itself, or good. I just think that any action one decides to take should be purposeful; if not, better not take it.

Why is it relevant to do nothing?

As I started this article, I recently realized that for a long time I’ve had the feeling that I needed to do “something” all the time.

The hard part of actively doing nothing is to stop acting on what you think you want to do.

Don’t even ask yourself why, for a while, until you quiet the mind.

Only a quiet mind can take apart signal from noise.

Try it. Don’t do, just be.

Just be - air just flows in, inevitably

Exhale until you can no more and notice how it is the air that rushes in, it is not you “breathing in”.

Breathing out is a very important concept.

Check out this article about breathing out and the essence of Nirvana.

It is absolutely incredible the amount of unnecessary things we do everyday.

Also things we do that no one expects or need us to do, and yet we feel compelled to do them as if there was a tacit agreement with our surroundings.

Doing nothing aims to pause the ever-lasting chit-chat of the mind, of the relentless ego, of all those things that need to be done, and open a space where your true thoughts and desires can finally emerge.

Be responsible

I am not advocating for not being responsible. Please don’t take my words that way.

Hear your Self and do the things You need to do.

Don’t let your ego confuse you into running the endless treadmill of unfulfilling thoughts.

If you don’t do what you really need to do, you won’t be happy although you do what you think you need to do.


If you don’t know where to start, this YouTube playlist might be handy.

It is OK

Relax, close your eyes and do nothing for a while.

Practice some mindfulness; Practice some self-care.

Some self-care tips from Google

It is OK.

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