By Manny Roman, CRES
I sometimes wander around the web not looking for anything in particular. I do this just to do nothing important. I also will just sit and stare at the hummingbirds as they seek to dominate the air space around the feeder. These are exercises in mindless divergence from my normally exhaustive daily activities. OK, I admit that the Internet, poker and birds take up a great deal of my daily wanderings.
As I meandered around the Internet, I came upon the Dutch concept of “Niksen.” Niksen is the art of doing nothing. As I read the articles I became very aware that I myself practice Niksen often and that I am exceptional at it.
Niksen is a conscious application of time and energy toward doing nothing important. This does not mean being lazy. It means taking time to let the mind go wherever it wants away from the normal hustle and bustle.
Niksen is good. Allowing the mind to be uncontrolled and unfocused may actually improve problem-solving. In my many years of being alive, I have found that sometimes you have to remove the focus from a problem in order for the mind to solve it.
I am talking about a problem. Many business people prefer to change the focus by calling a problem an opportunity. I propose that the actions required for solving a problem are different from those required to take advantage of an opportunity. A problem requires a search for the inherent cause so that it can be eliminated and thus prevent future occurrences: A backward-looking approach. The opportunity requires a forward-looking approach to best benefit from it.
In Niksen, the mind searches for its own means of stimulation. It will jump around as if in a dream, a daydream, of physical inactivity. This is when creativity happens. Interestingly, to me anyway, often the issues that get solved while in Niksen are not those that are at the forefront of the mind. Sometimes, we are not really aware that there was an issue that needed solving. Niksen will take care of that.
We are always told to manage time wisely in order to be productive. If we are not working toward a goal we are just wasting time. We must generate a to-do-list, preferably before we quit work for the day, so that in the morning we are ready for action. Either you are growing or you are dying. A vision without a task is daydreaming. A task without a vision is drudgery. Blah, blah, blah.
We all know that guy who is always “On.” Always looking for that edge. Pursuing that additional dollar. The will never have enough guy. Most of us admire his commitment, energy and drive. I wonder if in private he practices Niksen. If not, I would expect that he would someday explode all over that clean inbox on his uncluttered desk.
So my advice to you is to Niksen often. It doesn’t need to be for an extended period of time. However, allow enough time and inactivity for the true benefits to be generated. Doing nothing important for a while will relax the mind and body. It will allow you to form an appreciation for being alive and help discover a quiet happiness. Niksen for a while and reap the rewards.
I am now going to grab a glass of scotch and a cigar and go into Niksen for a couple of hours. “A couple of hours!” you say. Often while in a peaceful Niksen daydream, I slide into a real dream. I don’t wake up until my lovely wife, Ruth, shakes me to see if I am still alive.
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