The Power of Doing Nothing

How stepping back and doing less can lead us to more.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Although it seems counterintuitive, doing nothing is hard.

It’s not our fault; society has conditioned us over the years to move and consume non-stop. It also doesn’t help that we have a link to literally the entire world in our pocket at all times.

Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle sums it up nicely; “In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being.”

This pattern of overdoing is hard to break, but it can be broken and the results might surprise you. 

Why is Doing Nothing So Important?

Dolce far niente” means “sweet idleness” in Italian. It describes the comfort and sweetness one gets from, well, doing nothing. 

In a moment of sweet idleness, we’re not forcing anything to happen. We simply respond to what’s around us. This allows our thoughts to build and organize themselves in our minds. 

Have you ever had a fantastic idea right before you fell asleep? Or when you were doing something simple, like standing in the shower?

This is an example of the powerful creativity and ingenuity that can come from merely doing nothing.

There are some well-known examples of brilliant ideas born out of idleness throughout history.

Archimedes, one of the greatest scientists of all time is said to have realized the principle of buoyancy while soaking in the bath. 

Isaac Newton “discovered” gravity while sitting under a grove of trees, simply contemplating his own thoughts. (Contrary to popular belief, an apple did not actually hit him on the head ). 

And finally, there’s the famous story of Paul McCartney writing the song “Yesterday” in his sleep. 

The point is that there is power in doing nothing and to harness it all we need to do is practice. 

Practice Doing Nothing? 

Yep, you read that correctly. 

Because we are conditioned to move non-stop, doing nothing actually does take some practice.

In fact, it will probably feel very inconvenient and uncomfortable at first. 

But once we accept that it is OK, even beneficial to do nothing, then we can allow ourselves room to practice. 

Just like with anything else, it’s important to start small. Taking just 5 minutes out of your day to chill out and do nada is the best place to start. 

And if you’re feeling lost, we outline how to start doing nothing in this challenge.  

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Busyness “The Disease”

    by Godlymartins Olayemi
    Alena Ozerova / Shutterstock

    Why It’s Psychologically Imperative To Make Time To Do Absolutely Nothing

    by Thomas Oppong
    Courtesy of Peera_stockfoto/Shutterstock

    The Eye-Popping Secret Ingredient To Amp Up Your Happiness And Success: ‘Il Dolce Far Niente’

    by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.