The Art of Doing Nothing


As my second semester of freshman year nears the half-way mark, there’s one thing that I’ve noticed:

Everyone is exhausted.

And I’m not just talking about the sleep-deprived college students running on 5 hours of sleep per night and 10 cups of coffee per day (because the toll that our education system is taking on its students is another topic for another day). I’m also talking about fear-driven parents chasing after their kids, businessman killing themselves for the next promotion, and teenagers suffering from the weariness of heartbreak. We are all exhausted.

Our culture has completely forgotten the worth of rest – we have entirely diminished the importance of the concept!

I haven’t done enough traveling to know for sure but, from what I hear, this problem is mostly relevant in the good ole’ USA.

Land of the weary, home of the depressed.

And, because I am one of you, I can confirm the accuracy of this claim. We are a tired, worn out, depressed, exhausted group of people.

Well, this week I did something that I have never (intentionally) done before: I took a do-nothing day.

I felt sick when I first woke up and so, though it went against everything in my over-achieving, perfectionist nature, I called into work and took a sick day. I slept in for the remainder of the morning, woke up in time to eat ice cream for lunch,  and then made the decision to skip my classes as well (I can hear the silent screams of all you academic idealists as I type). I then spent the rest of the day cleaning my room, doing laundry, having good conversations with great friends, napping, and spending time with the Lord. It was awesome.

At the end of the day (though I wish it could’ve lasted longer), I felt more rested, healthy, and whole than I have in a long time.

Here’s what I’m saying, America – we need to take the time to REST and be with the Lord because, while slowing down our crazy lives helps to maintain our physical health, it is only in Him that our minds and spirits are renewed.

Now, if you’re anything like me, then I know that the idea of a “do-nothing day” makes you cringe a little. Because, as a culture, I think the idea of doing nothing – of leaving blank white space on our calendars – scares us.

Why? Because being alone with ourselves terrifies us. When you are alone with yourself, you are forced to deal with all of your real thoughts, feelings, emotions, and situations. And most of the time, that can get pretty messy.

Speaking to all of my peers, specifically: we are a generation that is very uncomfortable with the idea of silence. We fill every waking moment with some kind of (usually noisy) distraction that keeps us from facing ourselves.

Who are we without all of the busyness and the noise? We depend so heavily on these things to hold us up and to make us who we are. We find our value and acceptance in the number of tasks that we can get done in a day and because we find our worth in the opinions of other people, we say “yes” to anything and everything that is asked of us.

We pack our schedules full in the hopes that it will keep us too busy to deal with what’s going on in our own hearts. We seek to find all of our value in the “stuff” when the truth is that we each have intrinsic value simply in who we are.

You matter because of who you are, not because of what you do.  

So here is my challenge to you: take a do-nothing day. Heck, take seven of them! Take the time to take care of yourself, to focus on what really matters, and to rest.

Learning to be comfortable with the idea of a do-nothing day is not going to come easy. It will be hard work, but it will be worth it.

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” – Doe Zantamata

Have you ever given yourself a “do-nothing” day? What would be your ideal way to spend one?


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