The Secret to Happiness? Do Nothing

How often do you do nothing? I mean really do nothing?

I think as humans we are hardwired to fill time. We try as hard as possible to keep ourselves occupied.

Nothing planned for this evening? Netflix and chill.

Ten minutes before the next meeting starts? I’ll quickly check my emails.

I’ve got nothing planned on Saturday… hmm… yoga, meet with friends, go to the supermarket, call my mum, go for a cycle, listen to a podcast, write a blog post, water the plants, do the washing up, read a book, finish that online course, start that online course, take up skateboarding, learn to sew, sort out my record collection, Twitter, Facebook, The Guardian, BBC News, how about some meditation. The options are endless.

There are so many things I could be doing… but how often do I just choose to do nothing? To just sit quietly on the sofa and switch off.

The answer, when I really examined my time, was not often. Not often at all.

Lazy Guru in the Woods

Last week, on a chilly January morning, I went with Laurence Shorter a.k.a The Lazy Guru and a small group of people to the Wilderness Woods. We were there to examine our distracting habits, what purpose they served and what could happen if we change these habits and take some time off.

How can we get more out of life by doing less?

How can we add a little bit of Lazy Guru into our own lives?

Dumping Our ‘Shoulds’

One of the key things we discussed was around our own limiting language. Our lives tend to be governed by ‘shoulds’. From the moment we wake up until the moment we sleep the ‘shoulds’ start popping up. I should be working harder. I should spend more time with my family. I should do my taxes. I shouldn’t watch so much TV. I should eat healthier food.

These ‘shoulds’ seem to serve no purpose but to make us feel down. A ‘should’ hardly ever gets done. It feels like an arduous task and gets relegated to the bottom of the list.

When you turn these ‘shoulds’ into ‘coulds’ that’s when the magic starts to happen.

I could read a book, or I could go for a walk.

I could paint a picture or I could choose to just sit quietly.

Suddenly the world is full of options. There are no more tasks only possibilities. We are much more likely to act upon a world of possibilities, than on a long list of demands.

The Sound of Silence

During the day we also took a 40 minute silent group walk together through the woods. Not talking to someone walking next to me initially felt awkward. Having to keep all the important things I had too say bottled up. Not mentioning the cold weather. Imagine that — an Englishman not able to point out the weather on a country walk!

But after a few minutes it began to feel natural. The mindful nature of the walk created opportunities for thoughts to arise and move on and a greater appreciation to the trees and wildlife surrounding us.

Lazy Guru in Action

My main take away from the day was to create more space for myself and to spend more time in nature.

These are things I have been honing in on for a while now. One immediate step I took was to turn off all the notifications on my iPhone. It feels great. I was becoming increasingly stressed by the control my phone had over me.

These last few days since I’ve turned off the notifications I feel like I have taken back a little bit of this control. There are no vibrations and little red numbers demanding I divert my time and energy right now. I can find my own time and space when it is right for me to explore apps and respond where necessary.

On Saturday I found myself with no plans. Instead of madly trying to create a plan for the day I decided to just stop.

I sat on the sofa and I created space I needed just to be. I ended up spending the whole day by myself. As and when a feeling or desire came up that aligned with my need for space I allowed my self to act on it.

I can see the beach from my window and yet I hardly ever find the time to go. I wrapped up warm and sat on the beach. I then had the urge to get into nature so spend the next few hours walking by myself over the Sussex Downs from Brighton to Lewes and really taking the time to soak up and experience the rolling green hills, the small chirping birds and the light cool breeze.

The Big Secret

We (read I) spend so much time trying to work things out, hoping that the answer will be in the next article we read online, in the next webinar we attend, definitely just a little bit further down our Facebook timeline. It’s easy to spend time looking externally for the answers.

The big reveal is no doubt that the answers are all internal. We have them all already. We just need to know how to look for them.

There is really no deep secret to becoming a Lazy Guru.

All you need to do is create space and to allow things to just be.

Sounds easy, right?

The Lazy Guru workshop was hosted by The Happy Startup School . Check them out for info of upcoming workshops and events, and make sure to check out Laurence Shorter’s book The Lazy Guru.