A couple ground rules:
- It shouldn’t be too vague (“Be an honest person”)
- It shouldn’t be impossible (“Think twice before doing anything”)
- It shouldn’t be something lots of people are trying to do already (“Eat healthier”)
- It shouldn’t be something be that lots of people actually are doing (“Start a 401k/IRA”)
- It should work for everyone/shouldn’t be contradictory (“always pay for everyone’s dinner when you go out”)
- Direct – it’s should be clear what kind of steps/actions are involved.
“Practice doing nothing, just sitting or standing quietly, until you’re used to and comfortable doing nothing for about an hour every week, on average.”
It admittedly doesn’t seem like it would have a big immediate impact, and it’s not clear what benefit it would have. But, I think that it will have a few small effects on other parts of people’s lives that will add up to a big positive change over time. A few of the benefits:
- People have a lot of bad habits they’d like to stop doing, or at least have lots of habits they’d like to change in to good habits. Doing nothing is good practice at ignoring the little triggers and patterns that set off our habits, which is the first step in changing a habit.
- It gives you time to be mindful, to think about the things you’re doing, or want to do. And instead of just going off and doing them (or doing one thing while wishing it was another), it gives you time to think about why you’re doing all the stuff you do. It might become apparent that we’re doing some things for either bad reasons, or just no good reason at all.
- Doing nothing for a little bit is a great standard for the rest of the things you do in your life. Many people just watch TV, or go on the internet, or play video games, by default when they’ve got nothing else to do, on the assumption that doing something is better than doing nothing. But wasting a lot of time on useless entertainment (or other activities) can actually be worse than doing nothing. Of course, I don’t think we should all do nothing all the time, but it’s a good lower boundary, if the TV show you’re watching is worse than doing nothing, that’s a good motivation to go find something else to do.
- Sometimes we all just need a break, to relieve stress if nothing else. Especially if we’ve started to believe that being busy 100% of the time is normal.