The Lost Art of Not Doing

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”

Kahlil Gibran.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Who Am I, If I Am Not Being Productive?

Who am I if I’m not “crazy busy”? Productivity was drilled into me, and unconsciously I felt that I was only worthy of taking up space in the world if I was being busy doing something. Relaxing was being lazy, not self-care. For 30 years I’ve billed by the hour as an attorney whose income and value to the firm is driven largely by how much of my one wild and precious life I spend working. Then there’s the unpaid work of a mother’s daily life.

A friend mentioned that the world should rediscover the “lost art of doing nothing,” and I was immediately intrigued. Does “doing nothing” mean lying on a hammock, watching the world go by, 24/7? To find out, I picked up Diana Renner and Steven D’Souza’s book, “Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action,” and I was hooked.

A quick read, it was filled with stories of learning to widen your view of how to get things done. Its stories show that “trying harder” isn’t always the best way, and trying less may be. Busyness can actually keep you from doing a good job — limiting creativity and foreclosing strategic thinking in lieu of doing, doing and doing some more.

The book reminds us that Martin Luther and John Calvin conceptualized hard work, self-denial and discipline as Christian duties, with hard work being considered a source of personal value. Soon, hard work became an end in itself. And that, my friends, is no way to live.

No more rushing through life!

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