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2024 Advice Series - May: "Doing Nothing is Just as Important as Doing Something."



My dear friend, Marlana Hill, said to me and a group of friends this very thing, "Doing nothing is just as important as doing something". This is in the context of Marlana being the most productive person I know when it comes to her yard and home. Her projects are countless, and it is exhausting just listening to what she has done. She has even been known to sit in her yard and dig up weeds, roots and all, by hand. Currently, she is making some kind of concrete wall in her yard. No, not hiring someone to make her idea come to life, but she is doing it herself. That's how she rolls! So, when she told us that "doing nothing" is important, we listened. She takes baths to end the day, to relax. She sits in her back yard and watches the butterflies, and she lets nothing interfere with her morning coffee. She knows the balance of productivity and relaxation.


We live in a world where productivity matters. Producing results, accomplishing goals, saying we did this or that, and trying to finish all or most of what we put on our list for the day is supposed to feel satisfying and prove our value.  Yet I wonder if most people really feel that good when they accomplish things on their list. Most people probably feel a sense of relief more than joy when they "get it done". More often than not, we feel let down and like we somehow are miserable failures when we do not produce, strive, lead, and get promoted. I'll go as far as to guess that it often feels like our worthiness is on the line. If we do not produce, accomplish, strive, provide, and obtain; what good are we? What is our value to society or the family? What have we done all day to say our life had purpose? In that case, we are trying to prove our worthiness and stay ahead of the feeling of being a failure or the weak link in the chain. We are fighting to feel like we have done something worthwhile. We have to ask ourselves, "At what cost?" Do productivity measures tell us our value as a human being?

As a therapist, I would like to offer the idea that learning to know our value as a person, before doing anything, without doing anything, for that matter, is what we want to move towards. We deserve to be happy, before we move into the world to see what we may do or be. Doing nothing (sitting, gazing at stars, watching animals, listening to a stream, day dreaming, etc) and knowing ourselves, apart from any accomplishment, brings us closer to feeling ease, peace, and joy. Then, when we do something, we do it because it adds value to our lives and the lives of others. We are happy and joyful doing it, and our value is not a part of whether the outcome is what we thought it would be. We do not judge ourselves if we do not finish in some arbitrary time. We know the value of doing nothing, and we let that inspire doing what feels right to us.


Contact me at if you want to know more, do less, and feel better.

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