Niksen – the art of doing nothing

It doesn’t just sound like my name it also sounds just like me. I live by the fact that often do be able to do a lot and live to our greatest potential, we must do nothing. Niksen – like Hygge when the rest of the world discovered the nordic pratice – is a Dutch way of living your life.

Niksen “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use,” says Carolien Hamming. Practicing niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking at your surroundings or listening to music — “as long as it’s without purpose,” she says, and not done in order to achieve something or be productive. (source)

It sounds similar to mindfulness, but is a little more loose than that. While mindfulness is about being in the present, it is also about focusing on the breath and aligning within yourself. Niksen, is just about being. Imagine just sitting in a chair and looking out the window. It is a slowing down, allowing the day, your thoughts and feelings to catch up with you. I’ve written before about the importance of being bored (read here “Three reasons why you should be bored“), niksen follows the similar concept of just being still. You might find you will not feel bored. It’s a gentle slowing down and catching up with the times.

Take a moment out of your week to be still in the company of yourself and yourself only. You will find certain things in your mind will settle itself. You will be able to finish certain thoughts that may have gotten interrupted during the day, things you have forgotten might arise that you needed to remember, and you start to reflect on your life and thus find ways to improve it. Give yourself the space for your mind to be creative. The one downside to niksen is that at times the mind can wonder into a negative spiral that it finds hard to get out of. It is important in those moments to bring your mind back to the presence for example by thinking what you are grateful for or what you look forward to. Just because you are letting your mind wonder, doesn’t mean you have to lose control.

You can do it consciously, by forcing yourself to sit down and do nothing or you can go for a walk without headphones. Or, when you find yourself in the bus or public transport, just don’t scroll on your phone. Just give yourself a moment to be (as one of my favourite quotes goes – You are a human being not a human doing). We so often put value on things that we do, not on the people that we are. And even worse, we define who we are by the things that we do. We tend to forget that our worth as a human is not defined by what we have achieved or done for others, but by the simple fact that we exist. That we exist means we are worthy of existence and nothing more than that. If you don’t know that yet, take a moment to sit down and ask yourself why not.

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