Do-Nothing Days

A few years ago, I picked up a copy of a journal called The Happy Book for my sister as a gift. During some major life changes a few months later, I ordered a copy for myself. As I’ve learned (thanks to lots of reading, therapy, and choices), happiness is a continuous choice, not a destination. It’s important to stay true to yourself to ensure happiness, but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out who you are in the midst of life changes or when you’ve been on autopilot for too long. The Happy Book helped shake me up a little bit and get me thinking about what truly brought joy to my life.

I lost the book one year when my apartment flooded and it was unfortunately on the floor next to my bed (hey, it’s a convenient place to keep a journal!). I don’t remember all of the prompts and suggested activities but I do remember a few that helped bring who I am at my core back out. One of these ideas was “eat like a kid” day where you eat nothing but chicken nuggets and pudding (or whatever you associate with childhood). This grew into a few random theme-eating days for me, but I don’t do it very often. Another idea was the “do-nothing day.” When I lived alone, these were some of the best, most peaceful days. The basic premise is to turn everything off, don’t do anything you SHOULD do, and see what you end up doing instead.

On my do-nothing days, I would sleep in as late as I wanted. I wouldn’t turn on my computer nor take my phone out of airplane mode. I would make whatever I wanted for breakfast, if I felt like cooking. One do-nothing day I went downtown and got myself an ice cream sundae for breakfast on a blistering-cold winter morning. Then I was free to do as I pleased – no cleaning, no chores, no making plans. Sometimes I would find myself browsing the used bookstore for travel anthologies. I picked up a stack of best-of collections for less than $4 each during one such run. I also got a copy of “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” on the exact day I felt in need of its message. Although not much of a coffee drinker, I might go to a local coffee shop and get a flavored latte to wander around downtown. Sometimes I would just read a book all day and not leave the couch. Occasionally I watched movies all day but that tends to make me restless.

I know we never have enough downtime in our lives, but to intentionally choose to do-nothing – not be bored, but to do only what comes to your mind in the present moment – is a gift we should give ourselves more often to continue on our happiness journeys.

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