On a bright Monday afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit outside in my backyard with a quiet cup of coffee after having finished all my tasks. I realised that for the first time in a long time I had the luxury to sit and stare at the beautiful plants around me and breathe in the fresh air. I was reminded instantly of a poem that I was made to learn by heart as a child, “Leisure” by W H Davies, I have put down the poem here for your reference. This work by W H Davies was first published in 1911 when life was relatively simple. There were no distractions such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and yet the poet found that we did not have time to appreciate the little things in life.
As a young girl, I learned the poem because I was told to do so without understanding it’s meaning or value. But on that Monday afternoon the poem spoke to me for the first time. I was truly able to take in the full extent of what the poem was saying. I felt nostalgic, the definition of which is “to ache to be in a place or time which brought you true joy”. I was taken back in time when my parents, my sister and I would take long walks and stay till the sun set, to watch the sky change colour while it prepared itself to invite the moon on the horizon. I longed for the time when life was simple with very little responsibility. In that moment, I also realised that I had failed to take the same effort with myself and my own family. I had been running behind things that in the long run would not matter if my family and I were not happy. It brought home the last line of the poem, “a poor life this, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare”.
The point of this is that we as humanity need to rethink the definition of “productivity”. How many of us feel guilty when we are doing “nothing”?
As babies we need sleep for our brains and bodies to grow. While as adults we do not need as much, we do need our minds and brains to rest for them to function at their optimal level. Resting the mind allows us to become more mindful allowing us to be more focused and hence more productive.
When you are not distracted and constantly checking your to do list through the day you are allowing yourself to listen to your thoughts which means you can acknowledge the emotions you feel though the day. Your creative juices start to flow and allow you to deal with life situations in a creative way because you allow your mind to explore all kinds of options.
When you lay all distractions aside you take time to be kind to yourself, which means that you are more relaxed and stress free. This leads to increased kindness and patience towards the others. Busy mums will find themselves having more energy to deal with energetic kids. Relationships become stronger because of rested emotional state.
Therefore, I say doing “nothing” for a little while during the day means you are actually doing “something”: you are resting your mind, brain, and body. And as Winnie the Pooh would say: “Doing nothing brings the very best of something”.