The Intentional Art of Doing Nothing

This Week’s BIG Idea

One of the main reasons why I decided to create this section of the newsletter is because I wanted to share what’s new in my life. At first, I thought that I was going to run out of things to say rather quickly. On the contrary, though, it’s really easy to think about future projects and ideas on a regular basis. That said, this is an illusion because progress isn’t always doing things. Of course, to achieve certain goals, you do need to take certain actions. But while doing things is very important, doing nothing is as important.

In Stolen Focus, author Johann Hari decides to go to a remote place without internet for three months in order to read and write. He soon realized that life is meant to be slow and that human beings aren’t wired to run around stressed all the time. Our ancestors were certainly worried about certain threats, but most of their days were quite simple. They ate small portions of healthy food, hunted and gathered said food by walking everywhere, and socialized in a small tribe. A lot has changed, but eating healthily, exercising, and socializing were the norm until very recently. Society has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades: we built cities where walking or biking is almost impossible, we made eating unhealthy food easy, and we can talk with people through screens without seeing them face to face.

What I mean by this is that we’re not paying attention to the pillars of living a good life. On top of that, we’ve convinced ourselves that always being in a rush is something positive. In other words, we’ve lost our ability to live life slowly. We don’t read books, we’re never bored, we’re constantly distracting ourselves, we don’t save or invest money, and we travel places yet never engage with their culture. I would argue that the most important things in life take time. Investing, saving, raising children, and writing. These are all examples of activities that require an immense amount of patience. Doing nothing is a skill we must cultivate over time or we’ll live in a constant state of distraction.

What I’m Working on

Enough about doing nothing. As boring as it sounds, I’m still posting answering questions on Quora. I’m having a ton of fun, figuring things out since I’m fairly new to the site. Sometimes no one sees my answers, and sometimes, hundreds of people see them. That said, I enjoy the part where I have to condense information into something that’s appealing to people.

What I’m Listening to

I don’t have that much to share on this front. Essentially, I’m still going over Mark Manson’s articles in audio form.

What I’m Reading

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari: I’ve had this book for years, but I recently checked it out and really connected with it. In Stolen Focus, you’ll learn how being connected all the time degrades our attention. Hari argues that the problem isn’t internal but external, which leaves us vulnerable to corporations who want to capture and retain our attention as much as possible to make a profit. This is a fascinating book that explores why it’s so difficult to focus in the modern world and how we can change that in the future.

What I’m Watching

Salt Fat Acid Heat (Netflix): The Salt Fat Acid Heat book became a sensation when it came out a couple of years ago. I just realized that Netflix worked on a documentary series based on that book. In the show, chef Samin Nosrat travels around the world to explain the four basic components of cooking. I’m excited to watch this at some point and I might report back if I like the show enough.

This Week’s Quote

“How you spend our days is, of course,  how you spend our lives.”

Annie Dillard

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