Our Inability to Do Nothing

By now, we all know that cellphones probably aren’t the best for us. And yet, millions of people worldwide use them constantly. Part of the reason is that they are an excellent way to fill the quiet. Increasingly, people are finding that they have a hard time sitting in silence. They have trouble with doing nothing. As Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Our collective loss of this skill is something to mourn. It means that my generation (Gen Z) is reading fewer books, making less art, and spending less time outside. We are also the busiest and most anxious generation to date. We can’t be still, and can’t be quiet. This signals that—to make a sweeping generalization—we don’t know how to meditate, reflect, or take a minute to breathe. Though I have lived 17 years, I was only recently able to fully comprehend how valuable a skill it is to be able to sit and watch the world go by.


I have learned to look at the trees, listen to the wind, and pay attention to the thoughts in my head instead of forcibly focusing them. I taught myself how to do nothing. I no longer feel guilty for taking 20 minutes to myself, because I know that when I start working I will be more productive for it. So here it is—I’m giving you an opportunity to stop, turn off your device, and take a breath. I invite you to calm your mind. And when you’re done, have a good day!

Topics: Ross Musings, Local

Posted by Pearl Brosterman

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