Much ado about nothing

Much ado about nothing

by Vanessa Ng 22 Mar 2018

Achieving true happiness and contentment is a dream of many. Beyond the Danish hygge and Swedish lagom, there is increasing awareness and interest about the Dutch concept of niksen. What’s interesting about this is that while conventional wisdom espouses a work-reward type of system towards reaching accomplishment, niksen goes in the complete opposite direction.


Niksen encourages you to do nothing. Yes – absolutely nothing. Think of nothing, do nothing, and just relax with yourself. This can be very challenging for overachievers and overthinkers. Instead of planning your day, week, or year and stressing about different means of achieving happiness or leading a healthy lifestyle, this concept suggests that you take time out for yourself to do absolutely nothing.


The general idea is to not stress over things like the purpose of life or long-term goals. Put all your thoughts aside and sweep them under the carpet to bask in the enjoyment of doing nothing. This may sound very counter-intuitive considering how productivity is always underscored in our everyday lives.


Unlike hygge, which can be effective but time-consuming and cumbersome, niksen does not require much preparations. You need not stress out about what calming scents to pick, what kind of blankets to buy, or what affordable nightgown to wear. The process of doing so may, ironically, stress you out. Niksen advocates removing the purpose from action, which also conveniently eliminates the stress that comes with fulfilling said purpose.


Niksen is simple, and wants you to not be harsh on yourself, and be guilt-free when allowing your mind to wander. It rests your mind even while you are awake. It can almost be likened to the general concept of mindfulness, which has been trending thanks to the increased popularity of yoga and meditation. Unlike mindfulness however, niksen is requires you to neither be conscious nor appreciative of the moment. Simply be present in the moment and go with the flow.


Even the Italians have a saying, “dolce far niente”, which means “the sweetness of doing nothing”. Give yourself some downtime and see how an absence of something doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing!