Today’s post is inspired by my long weekend. Here in the USA Friday, July 4th, was a holiday on the occasion of the Independence Day. I had just finished a major responsibility of successfully launching our company’s new website on Thursday. Argo, our dog, has been patient all through the week as we spent the weekday evenings working, and not playing with him. We had a variety of plans brewing in our minds for the weekend celebrations. But clearly nature had something different in mind for us.

The stormy weather which came in on Thursday night did not let the Sun shine until Saturday. It was raining all day on Friday. At first, my reaction was not friendly. “Arghhhhh, what a damper on our holiday plans!” Trip to a beach, barbeque in the Sun, and a relaxing walk in a park – everything was put on hold because of the rain. But then I decided to make the most out of my weekend. That’s when I noticed the value of doing “nothing”. I am serious. There is a lot of pleasure in doing “nothing”.

Here are 5 reasons why you should do it, too:

1. Relaxation:
I feel like we put pressure on ourselves to either have fun or finish the pending tasks on the weekend. That defeats the purpose of having a break after a week of hard work. This weekend I had unplanned relaxation. At first I felt like I was trapped indoors but then it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was open to doing whatever I feel like. I spent time chatting with friends, watching movies, cooking together, and even playing board games. No matter what I was doing it was because I felt like doing it at that time. Just the fact that I was making the choice to do it, made it very enjoyable. When I did not like it anymore, all I had to do was to stop and find the next one. On several occasions the next activity I picked was napping. 😉

2. Spontaneity:
Planning is good. But when it comes to having fun lack of planning offers a sense of pleasant surprise. Being open to doing nothing, made us do activities which we would never plan on our own. We were at a friend’s place and after a delicious brunch she brought out a board game. I love playing board games in a group but somehow it never makes our list of “most desired activities”. I thoroughly enjoyed the new game which was just introduced to me. It was so much fun that I wanted to do a second round when everybody else was ready for a nap. But then again that led us to a new spontaneous decision. It all works out! 🙂

3. Heightened Sense of the Present:
Being truly aware of our surroundings is harder than you think. In today’s world when multitasking is considered a viable skill to have, we have started forgetting the power of “being present” in one activity at a time. When you are doing “nothing”, you do not have multiple upcoming necessities to take care of. You tend to enjoy what you are doing at this moment more than anything else that happened or will happen.

I often mindlessly watch TV. Lately I have been “forced” to watch the football (soccer) world cup matches and Wimbledon matches by my husband. I often do it while finishing a chore or writing. But on the weekend, I had no pressure of finishing any task. I did not mind “wasting” time on watching a game that I did not care about. Unbelievably, I enjoyed every single one of those matches more than ever before. Rather than ignoring the celebration after a good score, I became part of it. I was invested enough in the game to feel bad if my side made a mistake. I focused 100% of my attention on the game when I watched it. No matter what the outcome was, I enjoyed the game and the time more than I otherwise do.

4. Increased efficiency:
This is totally counter intuitive! But it is true. I did not realize how all those planners, post-its, reminders, and alarms drain your energy. They all have their place (well, except for alarms maybe 😉 ). But nothing can be as motivating as a relaxed mind ready to do what it takes to enjoy.

The moment I felt, I do not want to leave the house without cleaning the kitchen, I quickly cleaned it. When I felt, I do not want to watch a movie without posting a letter, I left early and posted it on my way to the movies. When I felt like I cannot let my friend leave the town without having chicken curry, we made that, too, as a second dinner.

I don’t even do these when I have to! But that’s precisely the reason. The difference here was that I did not feel like I “have to” do these. Rather, I was relaxed enough and chose to do these. In addition to some chores, we ended up doing a barbeque, 2 movies, watching the fireworks, cooking multiple times with friends, friendly board games, and playing with Argo until he was too tired to play anymore (and that last one NEVER happens). Not to mention how productive my Monday was. Even if we planned in advance we could not have done so much within a weekend without feeling overwhelmed. That’s the power of planning to “do nothing”!

5. Rejuvenation of Soul:
Big words, ha? But I do not know any other way to put it. When you are enjoying every moment as it comes, you automatically open up to new ideas. You start wondering how to make the best of what you have rather than waiting in anticipation of the next best event. You are living (and hopefully enjoying) with no strings attached. When you are aware of your surroundings and accept those for what they are, you become satisfied from within. This state of mind is like a detox for our busy and stressed out souls. We are constantly planning, worrying, achieving, succeeding – but how about some living?

Have you experienced this “Do nothing happiness” before? How did you feel?

I am certain I am going to have more of such “Do nothing” days. What about you?

©2014 Manasi Kakade
Thanks to Varun Kakde of Aperture Adventures for the picturesque featured image.