Niksen: The Dutch Get the 80/20 Principle

Dubbed the new “hygge,” niksen is the Dutch word that means doing nothing*.

Or more specifically, it means doing something without a purpose. You may stare out the window, look at your houseplants, or sit in silence, phone-less, while waiting for your coffee. You don’t have to meditate or do anything special to niksen “the right way.”

Niksen is akin to fasting for your mind. Its proponents claim that it does wonders for those struggling with stress (read: everyone). Who knew that dealing with stress could be as simple as doing nothing?

If you must insist on a goal of this practice, aim to let your mind wander. Take focus off your problems and daydream. Or watch whatever is in front of you until the timer goes off (start with a minute).

Don’t treat it as yet another secret of productivity or, shudder to think, a time management strategy. Just take a break. An oldschool one, without a smartphone or any other handy distraction that prevents you from engaging in a genuine niksen session.

Doing nothing boosts creativity. With zero work, it may help you solve a big problem. If you don’t believe me, remember where and when you get your best ideas. It’s rarely (if ever), a structured moment in your day.

Nature is one environment where doing nothing comes with more ease. If stuck in a city, a quiet library might solve the trick, too. If stuck at home, sitting by the window grandma style works, too.

Now excuse me while I go and do nothing.

* Niksen is a verbification (using a noun as though it were a verb) of niks which means “nothing.” So, essentially, “to nothing.” I love creative word formation.

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