the faux happiness of doing nothing at all

A few weekends ago, I tried a little experiment. Instead of filling my weekend with an agenda, I decided I was going to stay home and do nothing for two days.

I put off the errands I had to run, the syllabi that needed revising, the book reviews I had lined up. Just wake up, and hang out in my apartment. My weekend consisted of lounging by the pool, reading, playing video games, watching gaming streams, cooking meals, drinking a bit, and watching all 8 episodes of Wet Hot American Summer.

Getting to bed Sunday night was hard. I was restless, given my immobility for most of the weekend. I hadn’t really done anything that earned exhaustion or effort. My body didn’t want to wind down; it had been winding down all weekend already. Finally, around 2am, I fell asleep, actually looking forward to the workday. After 48 hours of not doing anything productive, I was itching to get back to things. I wasn’t contributing to society or the betterment of myself in any way. And I didn’t like it.

What I realized from my little social experiment is that clearing your agenda and doing absolutely nothing at all isn’t really as great as it sounds. We often glorify this notion because it sounds so tempting to run from your obligations. Who wouldn’t want to throw their work in the air and say “screw this, I’m done?”

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But really, let’s think about how necessary that is. You know that three day juicing detox craze? It’s proven bullshit, as the kidney detoxes your body daily. Yep, those cleanses aren’t really doing anything past your daily kidney function. Taking breaks is like that: daily bouts of “nothingness” work better instead of locking yourself away for days. You detox when you try a new recipe for dinner and find something on Netflix. You detox when you take a bath and put on some Sufjan Stevens and give yourself a pedicure. Daily “nothing” detoxes are more effective in the long-run than simply dropping everything and staying immobile for a weekend. Get up early, get your work done, put in some effort, and then enjoy an earned break.

I realize that this might only apply to other extroverted types like myself.  If you’ve been there, done that, and you actually love a long weekend alone from society, good for you for knowing that about yourself. But if you glorify and idealize and always “wish” that you could have a weekend alone when you can do nothing at all, I’m here to tell you it’s unnecessary. Make time for a daily detox instead. Then get back to work and being your fabulous self.

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