Simple Pleasure of Doing Nothing

The other day an office colleague knocked at my  door, came in and asked: ‘Looks like you are lost in thought’. I quipped: ‘No, I’m lost in  thoughtlessness’. And added thoughtfully: ‘yes, it’s thoughtless awareness to be precise’. I was in fact sitting and looking  through my office window at the greenery outside doing nothing in particular. Whoever said, ‘What is this life, if full of care….No time to stand and stare….’, probably had a great influence on me. As far as I’m concerned I have always found time not only to stand and stare but also to lose myself completely in the joys of thoughtlessness, at least for one hour a day. It was comforting to know that  I’m in great company in this respect – I believe Jack Welch used to spend an hour a day looking out of the window in his office. (Needless to say the similarity ends there!). I also completely concur with Ronald Reagan who famously said: It’s true that hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance’.

Given an option between Yoga and exercise, I would any day choose Yoga for obvious reasons. And among the various ‘asanas'(postures in Yoga), I love ‘Shavasan’ the most – again for obvious reasons! One could easily go into deep sleep and claim to be in ‘Yoga Nidra’, a form of meditative sleep!

Unfortunately, though, the present day businesses don’t allow us that luxury. Modern day workers are doomed to stay on the tread-mill as they work 25/7, especially in America. Is it because the  rewards are based on the number of hours put in or is it due to unproductive hours spent on checking and responding to e-mails? Whatever may be the reason, they end up being very bad time managers. There are exceptions,though. In Germany, for instance, working late in the evenings is considered a sign of bad time management.  As Jack Collins suggests in his famous book, ‘Good to Great’, it is high time  we started making a ‘Stop Doing’  list besides the usual ‘To do’ list considering how we pack our days with unproductive activities.

In case you are still not convinced about the virtues of laziness, here are a few interesting insights on how humanity benefited from laziness (courtesy: an email forward from a friend of mine):

Who invented the wheel? Some guy who was too lazy to pick up his kill and carry it home.

Who domesticated animals? Guys who didn’t want to go out hunting at all.

Who invented agriculture? Someone who was tired of walking all over the countryside in search of vegetables, and wanted them to grow conveniently close to home. Right up to Who invented computer systems? Folks who were too lazy to do all those computations manually. Yes, it’s an endless list on the achievements of the lazy guys!

I figure Bertrand Russel had a great influence on me in this respect. At an impressionable age I happened to read one of his finest essays titled, In praise of Idleness.

Published in: on March 7, 2014 at 11:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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