Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

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Tulips, cheese, or windmills: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Netherlands? There’s one thing in particular that might not be on your list: niksen. The Dutch art of doing nothing. Thanks to author Olga Mecking, the concept has become a worldwide lifestyle trend. Read on to learn more about how difficult it is to actually do nothing.

Doing Nothing: It’s Not As Easy As It Sounds

Sitting on the couch and doing absolutely nothing – it sounds simple, but fact is that for most of us, it doesn’t come easily. Work, family, friends, that pile of dirty laundry in the corner; they all demand your attention. But even if you had the time, how would doing nothing even work? Wouldn’t you just end up scrolling through your phone mindlessly? Olga Mecking went on a little quest to find out all about niksen.

Niksen is typically Dutch, according to Olga. And more importantly: niksen can be a powerful method to reduce stress. Many of our modern life hacks that promise relaxation actually demand quite a lot of work. Take minimalism á lá Marie Kondo for example: finding happiness by first turning your house and all your belongings upside down, cleaning, reorganizing. Sounds like a lot of work. Niksen, on the other hand, asks you to let go of all your to-do’s and just be, without any goal in mind. As a yogi, this concept might not be new to you. But how does doing nothing actually work? We’ve got some tips!

Don’t Think Of Niksen As Laziness Or Boredom

Consciously, mindfully doing nothing – nothing lazy about that! Consider it as your well-deserved break. “By actively doing nothing, you finally allow yourself to do less instead of more. Many of us are incredibly busy, all day, every day. Through niksen, we’re realizing that we need to take action and slow down.” The thing is that many of us tend to procrastinate when it comes to slowing down. Sure, we can take a break, but let’s just cross another to-do off our list first! And before you know it, you’re tired and worn out. Take a break before you reach that point. Allow yourself to step away. You deserve it.

Boost Your Creativity

Niksen is a great way to boost your creative thinking. The tricky part: don’t turn it into another goal (“I have to come up with three new ideas once I’m done doing nothing!”). Instead, try to let go of your thoughts, your goals, your to-do list. It might feel strange or difficult in the beginning, just like when you pick up meditation for the first time. But sooner or later, you’ll get the hang of it. Give yourself time to learn to do nothing. And then watch your creative thinking blossom.

Make Time For Doing Nothing

Doing nothing is much easier if you actively make time for it. Put it on your agenda and write it in bold letters: NIKSEN. You’re much more likely to actually go through with it if it’s planned beforehand. Not-so-fun fact: your brain is probably pretty foggy after 90 minutes of work. So planning little breaks throughout your day will make you more productive in the long run.

Go Outside

Doing nothing might sound like lying on the couch and staring up at the ceiling. But that might not be the right kind of niksen for you, especially if you’re easily distracted. Why not go for a little walk around your neighbourhood or just sit outside? Remember: the only goal is to relax and empty your mind. That’s it.

Bonus Tip: Put Your Phone Away

Imagine a little moment of quiet: maybe you’re waiting for the bus, standing in line at the grocery store or picking your kid up from school. A small moment with great potential, but what do most of us do? We grab our phones. Let’s check our email real quick or watch someone’s Insta Stories. Your day is filled with those little moments that call for doing nothing. Next time you catch yourself reaching for your phone for no reason, pause. Use this moment, no matter how small, to simply do nothing. Just be. Breathe. Niksen.