An Ode to the Art of Doing Nothing

Nothing. The dictionary has many definitions for the word nothing.  The definition that I chose for this story is  “no activity”.  Nothing = no activity.


The art of doing nothing.

What is The art of doing nothing?  For me, it literally means doing nothing. No activity. When I look around, all I see are people occupied with something.  I see kids on their computer, browsing on their phone, watching TV, reading, playing an instrument, studying, eating, arguing, always something, something, something. I see adults always busy with something too; watching TV, on our cell phones, on our computer, working, cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, shopping, entertaining, socializing, reading, and a host of other somethings, something, something.

I never see anyone just doing nothing.  Oh no, that can’t be done.  One has to be busy all the time. “What will people think?  That I’m not a busy person?”  Being busy has somehow become a badge of honor.  Why is that?   At any given time all of us are always doing something, something, something.


I used to feel guilty doing nothing. There is always something to do. I should be cleaning the garage, or prepping for dinner, or reading that article, or reply to that email, pay that bill, answer that text, errands to run; something, something, something. Not just sitting doing nothing, nothing, nothing.

But then I realized one day that when I accept the fact that it is okay to do nothing, when I actually sit and do nothing; I am at peace.  Just at peace.  When I sit and do nothing I start noticing the little things around me.  For me, it’s when I sit in my garden and look at the same plants I have seen a hundred times  (the urge to weed or prune is always there) but I just sit and look, quietly observing. It’s very peaceful. The noises and surrounding distractions become background noise, and they just become a hum.  I notice a hummingbird sucking nectar from a flower and I just smile (not jump up to take a picture. That is for another time).  I notice a little bug just walking on the soil. I notice a snail ready to eat my flower and I fight the urge to squish it, that’s for another time. At that moment it is all about doing nothing.  After 5, 10, 15 minutes of doing nothing, I feel energized.  I’m ready to go and do something.

Photos Desktop
My favorite place to do nothing is my small kitchen patio

A few stories of doing nothing.

My Mother-in-law told me a story years ago about how she watched my my Mom doing nothing. Both of them came to help me when Sridevi my eldest was born in 1995.  My Mom decided to take a break from baby caring and helping me, and took my Mother-in-law and my brother-in-law for a day trip to San Francisco.  She took them to see the Golden Gate Bridge and drove up to Vista Point. Here all three of them took some pictures and were enjoying the scenery when my Mom-in-law sees my Mom sitting on a bench looking out at the bridge.  She was just sitting there doing nothing.  My Mom-in-law tells me that she wanted to talk to my Mom and say something, but she held back.  She said my Mom looked very pensive and peaceful that it didn’t seem right to bother her.  So she and Amar decided to just sit as well.  My Mom sat there quietly for 30 minutes.  My Mom-in-law still tells me this story when reminiscing about my Mom, and she will tell me with a smile  “I always wonder what your Mom was thinking that day, she looked so peaceful in thought.”


My Dad’s favorite place to sit and do nothing is our front patio. He will sit there quietly just ovbserving the scenery around him. It’s his favorite past -time in the late afternoon. Doing nothing.



I’ve noticed my daughter Rani sometimes enjoys doing nothing too.  One day I saw her sitting on the couch in our family room looking out at a winter scene.  She had no computer, no TV on, no phone, no book, no cello; she was just sitting there. I asked her with a frown “What are you doing Rani?”  Rani just answered, “Nothing.”  To which I asked, “What do you mean, nothing“?  “Why isn’t she doing something ?” I thought with a frown 🤔😕?  To which Rani just replied, “I’m doing nothing Mom.”  I watched her and saw that she in fact was doing nothing.  She was just sitting on the couch looking out the window, just smiling and pondering. Doing nothing.  I let her be.  She looked very peaceful.


Happy Saturday!
Hope you get a chance to do nothing this weekend. 


Try it for yourself. The art of doing nothing.




15 thoughts on “An Ode to the Art of Doing Nothing”

  1. Very nice post! You said it right, we feel guilty to “do nothing”. But when you put it like ” art of doing nothing” it feels that we are artists! So will be an artist once in a while!

    1. As I realize it is impossible to do nothing, you have to interpret it this way. That is when you are doing nothing as you say, it is not that actually as literally your rain is doing everything. As your brain is active it may be that you are doing everything although it appears to people that you are doing nothing. Definition of nothing:impossible to do for the living creatures. The muscular system may be taking rest but never the nervous system. The important part of nervous system is the brain which acts upon the sensory nervous infusing the nerves to give message to the brain and the action is completed by the motor nerves for the result. When can the brain stop? When the brain turns cucumber as you say. So I can never say I am doing nothing. I do not know how many will agree, but this is my apology. Thank you for reading a long comment.

  2. I love to practice “ Being Nothing” rather than “ Doing Nothing” Because even when you are doing Nothing you are still “ Thinking” whereas when you are being Nothing . You do not have a BODY, MIND AND SOUL …. You are non existent …. You are not Vinatha . The Mom, Grand Mom, The Blog Reader, The FaceBook addict or anybody else for that matter …. Doing Nothing is practicing “ Mindfulness” but Being Nothing is the Ultimate State of Nirvana

    1. I dont think Shavasaan in yoga is the same thing as doing nothing, as in yoga it is a conscious effort to clear the mind and involves closing the eyes and focusing on eliminating all distractions. for me doing nothing means just sitting and doing nothing without any effort to do nothing, you know what I mean. Just enjoying the moment with my eyes wide open to enjoy the scenery around me and appreciate the beauty that exists in everything. Its funny i knew some would comfuse what I am saying with meditation or a yoga pose, but I feel doing nothing is actually doing nothing, not even a yoga pose 😊.

  3. Hi Kalpana, I love this! We (l😊) am so conditioned by deliverables, outcomes and productivity professionally and personally🤦. The closest I get to doing nothing is by escaping with a happily after novel or watching a movie at home but actually that is doing something. It takes effort to do nothing and just being.
    Thank you for inspiring us to just be still. I love the picture of your dad and Rani just being. I wonder if your mother inlaw took a picture of your mum that day.

    1. I knew this blog would create debate on what it is do nothing, some call it mindfulness, some call it Shavasaan in yoga, I just call it “doing nothing”. Because calling doing nothing more than it really is gets complicated, however just doing nothing is so simple and involves little effort which was the intent of this blog. I hope you get a chance to relax and do nothing Stella 😊. Oh, I dont think we even had cell phones back then when both Moms came to see me 😀.

      Have a great weekend Stella.

Leave a Reply