The chance to slow down and experience a younger, less mean life for some was a welcome reprieve from the turbulent and often stressful version of before.
Some of us have come to realize that what once seemed unimaginable – white space on the calendar – is now essential to feeling calm. Few of us have experienced the joys of doing nothing.
CNN asked Mecking to share Nixon’s secrets with us.
This interview has been shortened slightly and edited for clarity.
CNN: You write that doing the damn thing, or doing nothing, is not about work, doing emotional work, or meditating. How does one do nothing?
Olga Mecking: My goal was to try to understand what doing nothing is and how it is different from doing nothing. It turned out to be more difficult than expected. While doing my research, I struggled to find anything to do with “do nothing”. Instead, I had to look at words like “boredom,” “laziness,” or “laziness.”
By definition, I end up doing, I don’t really do nothing, so I’m not on Facebook or watching a series, but I’m sitting on the couch or in a coffee shop and looking out the window or watching people go by. Sometimes we can call this ‘distance’ or ‘daydreaming’.
It also does nothing without purpose. We often do things because we expect a certain result.
We run because we want to lose weight or get ready for a marathon, not just to feel good. I think we have lost the ability or just the pleasure of doing things “just because” or “for God’s sake”.
CNN: “Work” doesn’t mean doing it Something?
to make: Your question is of a linguistic nature. In English, you have to say “do nothing”. But you can say “do nothing”.
In Polish, you have to use a double negative: Nic nie robić or nie robić nic, where nic is nothing and nothing or not.
In Dutch you have one word that means “do nothing” and that is “nexen”. When I first discovered this, I loved that language can capture an entire concept in just one word.
CNN: What are some tips for making sure we do the Nexen? Do we write it on our agenda? Or are we sometimes not planning anything on our agenda?
to make: I’m a big believer in “do whatever work” so if you’re the type who likes to plan things out, do it. The Dutch love their agenda. Productivity expert Laura Vanderkam suggests leaving some blanks on your calendar — for lunch, a break, a walk, or nothing.
If you’re the kind of person who deals with flow, you should probably do what I do and have a few snooze moments whenever you can. My favorite places are waiting areas (like a doctor’s office), public transportation, or park benches.
CNN: People in the United States live in a society obsessed with productivity, but you’ve found that incorporating Nixen into the workday — working fewer hours — can actually increase productivity. How is that?
to make: We understand that our bodies need rest now and then. But somehow we expect our brains to work non-stop and that’s not sustainable. Because after a while our brains stop cooperating and the time we spend at work is lost.
It is better to take a break, eat something and do nothing for a while. That’s how long it takes to work, yes. But it will also allow us to work better and end up with more productivity and better quality of work.
CNN: How can lying keep using more parts of the brain than doing a task? Tell us about the Standard Mode Network.
to make: A standard mode network is a special neural network in the brain that just comes “online” or lights up in an fMRI machine, if we don’t do anything. As I understand it, when we participate in a task, our brain expends energy on the areas responsible for completing that task. This does not mean that our brains are working less, it is just more focused.
But if we do nothing, a completely different, more detailed part will become active that connects the different brain regions.
Researchers believe that this is why our best ideas exist, not when we focus on solving a problem, but when we do something unrelated to the problem, like take a shower or walk.
CNN: I’ve found that our reliance on technology means that we never do anything. How do we need to adapt our relationship to technology so we can do the Nexen?
to make: Technology can be great, but it also seeps into our work — we can be reached any time of the day and night — and into our spare time, where we can constantly entertain ourselves if we want to.
Many people use apps to limit screen time, and use technology to control technology, but another option is to set up your environment so that you have a place to put your phone so it’s not constantly next to you or next to you. it’s not. Related technology such as books or limiting the number of apps or social media profiles you use.
CNN: How do we deal with the shame some of us feel when we aren’t more productive, or the guilt we might feel if we go to Nixen for too long?
to make: The important thing is not to fight it or think I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, which can lead to feelings of guilt about it. Just accept that we feel guilty and try to sit with that for a while and see what happens.
Does it disappear after we’ve had a chance to daydream a bit and see that we’re feeling more relaxed? Productivity expert Chris Bailey argues that we feel guilty when our actions conflict with our values and that the solution to guilt can lie in learning the value of doing nothing and relaxing.
CNN: What research are you covering about how we’d rather give ourselves electric shocks than be inactive?
CNN: You’ve proven that the Nexen is actually our “default state,” even though we all seem addicted to a lot of the plans. How is that?
to make: Ironically, both can be true. Early humans had to live in a harsh environment that involved hard work – hunting, gathering food, preparing it for eating, cooking, preparing and repairing clothes, making tools, etc., but at the same time, humans are considered quite a lazy species: the study showed that if Given the choice of taking the stairs or the elevator, guess what most people would choose? Yes the elevator. This has to do with energy savings.
Usually we don’t want to work unless we have to. But social expectations combined with the modern economy and technology make us feel like we have to work, plan, plan and do something all the time.
CNN: You wrote that Dutch culture can be particularly receptive to Nexen for several reasons, including the high quality of life. But they also say: “Act naturally, that’s crazy enough.” Could you explain?
to make: Acting naturally (do it naturally) is something you see a lot here, and it’s usually said in situations where people are seen as bragging or showing their feelings too openly. Although the Dutch will be an incredibly individual people, following the rules, working together and ‘joining’ (contribute) is very important to them – more important than individual success or achievement.
CNN: Can you explain “learning to live at two speeds?”
to make: The idea of Nexen is not about selling everything you have and living in the desert. A busy life can still be a very good and happy life, filled with meaningful moments with friends, family, a job and perhaps a hobby. Modern life offers many wonderful opportunities for entertainment and fun.
Some situations require hard work. If you’re dealing with an emergency, don’t worry “sorry, you don’t have to do anything for a while”.
So there will be times when your schedule is pushed to the limit, but there must also be times when you have time to relax, sit, read a book, or do nothing. It’s about knowing when to go fast and hard and when to go slow.
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