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Christine Carter - Do Some Serious Day Dreaming
Christine Carter - Do Some Serious Day Dreaming

Happiness Tip: Stare into Space

When was the last time you just sat down and stared into space? Put your feet up and did nothing? Spaced out in the shower? Okay, now when was the last time you did one of these things and didn’t feel like you should be doing something else instead?

If you can’t remember, you aren’t alone.Many of us don’t feel good about just sitting around doing nothing. But we human beings need stillness in order to recharge our batteries. The constant stream of external stimulation that we get from our televisions and computers and smart phones, while often gratifying in the moment, ultimately causes what neuroscientists call “cognitive overload.” This state of feeling overwhelmed impairs our ability to think creatively, to plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information (like the name of our boss’s daughter, or our daughter’s boss), and control our emotions. In other words, it impairs basically everything we need to do in a given day.

Take Action: For 5-10 minutes today, practice being still. Turn off your phone and close your laptop. Get comfortable in a favorite chair or on the couch. Then…don’t do anything. Just stare into space. Rest. It’s okay if you get bored or agitated or sleepy — that’s normal if you don’t do this very often.

Join the Discussion: How does it feel to just sit and do nothing? How does it feel to get back to work after you’ve rested? Share in the comments or discuss on Facebook here

If you are interested in why this practice can make you more productive and happy, or why we are so bad at being still these days, I hope you’ll check out this blog post.

And for more about the concept of achieving more by doing less, check out my latest eCourse, “The Science of Finding Flow.


  1. Emilie says:

    Christine, I have be far been doing more of the things you are recommending in the past year or two. Today when I read the subject of the email, I thought, “I do that now!” Interesting is the fact that I took an aptitude test last week for a new job I applied for. I paused at the questions similar to, “Do you feel guilty when you sit and do nothing.” In the past I would have answered a resounding YES! but last week I answered “Mostly not.” It showed in my scoring comments that “You may need external forces to motivate you.” NOT! The scoring was based on old thinking and old “Type A” as a preferred employee, not looking at a 50+ year old woman meditating and having her life and motivation and happiness by far more in order than back when she was in her 20’s and was rushing from one thing to another and never pausing to contemplate.

  2. maxresonance says:

    I literally ‘stare’ at space, that is I focus on just the light particles, if you want to call them that. Easier to do in a darkened area. I’m a literalist, so when the Buddha says ‘meditate on the void,’ I create a void between my tongue and my soft palate to focus on. Sort of what babies do when they sleep-nurse! Here’s a sculpture of the Aksobya Buddha that I like because I think he’s sucking on his uvula. Try copying his expression! I named it “Grandma’s look of kind regard.” Kind Regards to All . . . Max

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