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Niksen: The Dutch Word for Doing Nothing and Why It Matters 

How comfortable are you doing absolutely nothing? Can you remember the last time you felt bored? Seems almost unfathomable doesn’t it. We live in a time that praises a busy lifestyle and a booked-solid calendar. The busier the better; at least that’s how many see it. 

Not the Dutch. They practice something called “Niksen” and it almost literally means “to do nothing”. It’s the idea of taking conscious and deliberate time and energy to do things like sit motionless, or gaze out a window with no other distractions. The Dutch have always found value in this type of mental resting and recuperation while awake. Can we? 

It won’t be easy. Research shows we shift our attention every 45 seconds at work, thanks to technology. Data shows Canadians spend a daily average of two hours and fifty-four minutes on their smartphones. 

Our inner voice unrelentingly tells us to do something useful, and societal expectations echo that voice. But as the Dutch well know, boredom or doing nothing has real benefits. When we daydream, we are at our most creative. We become better problem solvers and are able to be more focused in our thoughts. Boredom forces our mind to search for it’s own stimulation. Think back to being bored as a child and all the games, characters, dreams and notions you came up with as a result. In today’s digital age, doing nothing isn’t easy but the case for doing so is strong. 

4 Ways to Be Bored in a Busy World 

Break up with your phone; at least for a little. Studies have shown that even having our smart phone in the same room as us lowers our cognitive function. Put it in another room or turn it off for a couple of hours. 

Say no more often and relish in more free days in your calendar. Be proud of no plans. And when you have no plans with others, make no plans for yourself. 

Recognize your environment and manage your expectations. Create physical spaces that will encourage Niksen like a comfy chair by a window instead of in front of a TV. 

Try somewhere new. If being bored is impossible at home because to-do lists loom or you have kids around, find a sanctuary that promotes quiet and calm. Wander through a park, or book time out for your favourite relaxing spa service. 

Give yourself a chance to be blissfully disconnected and recharge.