Niksen – The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

Share This Post

19th Dec, 2021

First, there was ‘Hygge’ the Danish concept that made staying in and getting cozy. Then there was ‘lagom,’ the Swedish mindset of approaching life with an “everything in moderation” mindset. Now there’s another Northern European trend that’s being embraced as a way to combat our increasingly busy and often stressful lives: Niksen.

The Dutch concept is as simple as, well, doing nothing.

 Sounds simple, right? Well, as author Olga Mecking writes in her new book, “Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing,” it’s something with which many adults struggle amid pressures to maximize all of our waking hours.

One aspect of the ‘art of living’ is to find out what ways of relaxing fit you best.” There’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach; rather, you’ll discover which behaviors are most effective for you through trial and error.

The practice of doing nothing helps to slow down your body, your breath, improving your mental focus and regulating your emotions.

To practise Niksen, do small nothings at first. Focus on 5-10 minutes at a time, and start your practice sessions in a safe place — at home, not at work or in a busy public place. You may also not be ready to do nothing in the middle of nature, so do it in your bedroom or living room.

You might be surprised to find that there are actual benefits of doing absolutely nothing. When you turn off all distractions, it allows space for your subconscious to expand, ultimately boosting your creativity. When distracted, our mind jumps to the most obvious answers when trying to solve problems.

research is strong when it comes to the benefits of slowing down, from emotional perks — like reducing anxiety — to physical advantages — like curtailing the aging process and strengthening the body’s ability to fight off a common cold. These potential health effects might be enough to encourage even the most hectic and overburdened among us to consider carving out time to practice Niksen.

Another benefit of Niksen is that it can help people come up with new ideas. When the ‘Niks,’ do nothing, “the brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems, which in turn can boost one’s creativity. This could manifest in having a breakthrough solution to a problem on a walk or a great business idea reveal itself while daydreaming.

Niksen is known differently across the world. A visit to Italy will soon have you embracing the concept of ‘dolce far niente’ or ‘sweetness of doing nothing.’ It does not mean being lazy; instead, it’s the idea of finding pleasure in idleness or relaxation.

In China,  ‘Wu wei’ is – non-doing or ‘doing nothing’.  This is the paradox of ‘wu wei.’ It doesn’t mean not acting, it means ‘effortless action’ or ‘actionless action’

But unlike mindfulness, Niksen is not about staying in the moment and being conscious of your surroundings; it’s about letting yourself do nothing, about letting your mind go where it will without guilt or expectation.

This Sunday, lets adopt the fine art of doing nothing, become a ‘Nik’ and stay blessed forever.