Discovering Joy in Doing Nothing: Niksen
In the Netherlands, niksen is a practice of doing nothing with or without a purpose. It might sound strange, but it contributes to health and wellbeing.
Many of us constructed or inherited fast moving busy, work-driven lives. To be happy, for many, means always being busy and achieving success. In this reality, burnout is sometimes a badge of honor and other times, it is a wake up call.
We, humans, also created breaks from work called vacations, retreats and detoxes. We ooh and ahh when we hear someone has five weeks vacation in a year or has the flexibility to choose ‘paid time off.’ But why do we create a life that we need to vacate or retreat from?
So, what if creativity and our health require one simple mindset: doing nothing?
Now, imagine sitting in a café, sipping your coffee, looking out the window, and flowing. It’s not about being mindful; it’s about existing; no overthinking required. So commonplace is this practice in the Netherlands that they created the word niksen to describe this state of mind.
They’ve crafted a lifestyle around it. Shorter workdays, valuing education and wellbeing, and family time form the core of living. And guess what? Niksen is a way of life. Is it perfect? Who knows? What truly is?
But this idea of finding joy in simple things isn’t confined to the Netherlands. In Ikaria, Greece, daily naps are the norm. In Okinawa, Japan, ancestral memories hold importance, and in Sardinia, Italy, friends meet for happy hours. These practices are not just customs; they’re ways to savor life.
Even more, Denmark embraces “Hygge,” a sense of cozy contentment, while Sweden lives by “Lagom,” a philosophy of balance. These aren’t fleeting trends; they’re time-honored practices.
The Science Behind Niksen
Science backs this up too. A study in the Netherlands revealed that those stressed from work felt rejuvenated when they practiced niksen. By merely taking a pause, they unlocked creativity and enhanced health.
In contrast, places like the United States often label doing nothing as lazy. American students asked to practice niksen felt overwhelmed. However, the Dutch tap into ancient wisdom. Doing nothing isn’t an act of laziness; it’s a pathway to a healthier life and potentially connecting with our natural environment; without a need to detox.
Are you curious about niksen? Can you question your relationship with doing nothing? You might just discover a profound way to rewire your brain from stress. It’s an invitation to boost creativity and elevate health. And takes practice in a world that values unnatural success, productivity and growth.
Maybe sometimes the healthiest way to move forward is doing absolutely nothing. It’s a timeless lesson, a whisper from centuries past, that we can choose to apply today, or not.
Maybe the healthy story is one where we slow down, let go of mechanical living and experiment with painting our own canvass. Perhaps when we no longer judge ourselves harshly for doing nothing, we fall in love with how awe-some life truly is.
And, on today’s trek, I wish you whatever you need in this very moment of awe. Maybe it’s nothing at all? or maybe it’s deeply listening to your heart.