In the book The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life, author Martha Beck prescribes ten habits to maximize your joy and fulfillment.
One step at a time
These habits or “menu items” build on each other. In other words, you’re meant to start with the first, make it a habit, then move on to the next. This follows habit creation tips I’ve heard from other thought leaders, and it’s worked well for me.
So, following Beck’s advice, I set a goal to make her first practice a solid habit before focusing on any of the others.
Her first recommended practice for a more joyful life? “Nothing.”
What is doing nothing?
What an intriguing place to start. Do nothing? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
You might think of someone meditating in half-lotus on the floor, or staring off into space from their living room couch. And these totally count. But I like the way Beck frames the most effective styles of the daily nothingness she recommends.
In essence, you can either:
- Be still (with eyes closed, or watching natural movement like a river or candle flame), or
- Be in motion (walk or jog – whatever movement takes no deliberate thought)
Why do nothing?
By not always achieving, this allows you to “hear” your inner truth and therefore determine which goals matter. It helps you hear beyond the noise of the world, our cultural norms… all that mental sludge that gets in our way.
Tips for doing nothing
For this to work, you’ll need to take it seriously, protecting yourself from interruptions, for example. And, you’ll need to not take your thoughts so seriously. Instead, watch without judgement.
You may need to make a few mindset shifts:
Doing nothing is productive.
It’s okay to set firm boundaries with my family about not interrupting my do-nothing time.
And if you find that you truly hate this whole idea, it’s a hint to turn inward with curiosity. As Beck puts it, “you are hiding something from yourself.”
Everybody’s nothing is unique
After my second read-through of The Joy Diet, hopeful to integrate all ten practices this time, my first habit is to spend at least 15 minutes each day doing nothing. For me, that looks like a silent meditation using the Insight Timer app on my phone around 9 AM or, if I miss that, right after lunch.
How could you do more nothing?
What will your 15 minutes of daily nothing look like?
The Joy Diet
If you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend the book. It’s packed with vivid inspiring stories and exercises for when you get stuck. Plus, it will help you with menu item #8.