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The Importance of Being is the Flipside of the Importance of Doing Nothing

"It's because artists do not practise, patrons do not patronize, crowds do not assemble to worship reverently the great work of Doing Nothing, that the world has lost its philosophy and even failed to invent a new religion." G.K. Chesterton

Here's a great piece that appeared at Forbes last week: The Importance of Doing Nothing. It points out a truth that many of the best thinkers over the past 100 years have pointed out, often in exasperation at our busy-obsessed culture: Doing nothing is itself productive, for the simple reason that it's not productive.

It's a paradox, yes, but a paradox recognized by (just off the top of my head) Chesterton, Nock, and Pieper.

Excerpts from the article:

But working harder is not necessarily working smarter. In fact slacking off and setting aside regular periods of 'doing nothing' may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health. . . .
. . . doing nothing has never really been acceptable. We associate it with irresponsibility, wasting our life. Most of us feel guilty if we don't have something to do. On the other hand we get a buzz when we feel really busy. Distraction-inducing behaviours like constantly checking email stimulate the brain to shoot dopamine into the bloodstream giving us a rush that can make stopping so much harder. . . .
Our frenetic activities in cyberspace ”“ a world of multitasking and hyperactivity ”“ help us to delude ourselves that we are productive. The reality is that social media is very reactive but not very original. It contracts creativity and can impact mental health. If we don't know how to calibrate the balance between action and reflection we may become a casualty of psychological burnout. . . .

Here's a column I wrote for The Register about the importance of doing nothing: Take It Easy. Also: A book review for Gilbert Magazine about Joseph Pieper's classic, Leisure, the Basis of Culture.