My fiancee and I were speaking recently about the ability to sit still in what we both refer to as a “boring” environment and just do nothing. It’s a challenge for each of us, as we both tend to engage ourselves in something, whether we’re reading, watching a movie, or playing an online game, and we always fight the urge to just sit there and do nothing (and be contemplative or meditative). I know that there’s a great deal of value and power of sitting and doing nothing. Jerry Seinfeld became a household name (not to mention a millionaire) from a TV show that was about nothing, so something about nothing can pay off quite well..
I was reminded of this conversation as my options presented themselves when Hurricane Humberto blew through town. I could have hung out at home with no power, no phone, no AC, and no way to cook meals. There would have been ample opportunity to catch up on sleep and on my reading or just sit and be, albeit in 90 degree heat. It would have meant roughing it, but the lure of electricity won me over, and I was off to spend a few days at my mom’s house, where I could again access all the comforts of home, a mere 1.5 hour drive from my home. Another opportunity to just sit there and do nothing lost again to modern conveniences.
It’s even tough for me to relax and take it easy when I’m on vacation. In the past, I’ve needed a vacation to recover from my vacation because I’ve spent my vacation running around doing lots of things, and rarely sit still for a moment. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable with spending my vacation time in reflection and just sitting and contemplating my life and business. It is at the point where we permit ourselves to be still and be present in the moment that truly great things (and thoughts) come our way. Most of the ideas I’ve implemented in my business have come from this meditative time.
I would have to call this time the mental equivalent of the physical act of clearing clutter. Getting away from external distractions (television, books, computer, people, traffic) and just choosing to just “be” can provide you with more clarity than you might imagine. Because of the American work ethic that’s ingrained in us from the time we are born (remember your mom saying, “Don’t just sit there — do something!”), I often feel guilty when I’m not productive — like I’m wasting my time and my life.
Now that I’m learning to let go of the guilt, I’m amazed at how quickly time passes when I just sit out on the patio and watch the squirrels, thinking of nothing in particular. My favorite way to create this time for myself is to take a scenic drive down a country road with little traffic. I turn the radio off and let my thoughts wander. I guess this isn’t so great for the environment, as I’m burning carbon-based fuel as I drive, but this strategy works for me.
Since I’ve experienced the beauty of just sitting there and doing nothing, I want to incorporate it into my life on a regular basis. I’m not sure I have the patience to practice it daily, so my goal is to take a few hours weekly and find a peaceful location and just let my thoughts wander and be present in the moment. I am contemplating “what’s next” for me in this adventure I call my business and my life, so it’ll be interesting to see what bubbles to the top.
Where are you stuck in your life or your business? Not sure what your goals are or in what direction to turn? Remove yourself from distraction (go outside to a beautifully serene location, perhaps) and see how valuable the act of sitting there and doing nothing can be for you.
Copyright (c) 2007 Donna Gunter