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Doing Nothing and the Internal World - How Doing Nothing is Something & Why It's Important

Updated: Jul 13

An art work

The paradox about not doing anything is, that even if you’re doing nothing, you’re doing something. You think, you feel, you wonder, you contemplate, and so forth. Doing nothing is therefore a purely mental deed, where your internal doings overcome external doings. Thus, you're only doing nothing externally, and not doing nothing completely, like it seems it does. When we are to take this into account, doing "nothing" is actually more productive than some may think, because it is the productivity of oneself with oneself, rather than with complete nothingness.

We are taught by socialization that we always have to do something that is external of us, besides resting and sleeping. This teaching is one of the elements of today’s financial materialism - that our self-worth has to be justified by constantly occupying ourselves with something that is external of us, while inner-indulging is taught to either be a waste of time, boring, or a purely egotistical thing, because when we do nothing we don’t promote pro-society activities.

From this we can learn that some if not many societies are very self-centred than individual-oriented, because what is considered "respectful" or "valuable" when you're introducing yourself to others? It's something that is of course related to the benefit of society, rather than to the benefit of yourself, since the ego of the individual is more often than not put aside in favour of the societal ego, which in turn can, at least on the long-run, damage ourselves as people beyond the sphere of our social constructs.

There is no obligation to promote society all the time, and a little dose of egotism from time to time isn't something horrible. By doing nothing, we can let ourselves completely venture within our minds, within the Internal World, a world we often ignore in this fast-paced, socially-stressed, obsessive modern world. The stress to be a good, functioning unit in the social machine, while being good at times, can also be bad for you when it becomes an anxious obsession -- the obsession to be competent, respected, and loved. The one that may lead you to the each new day problem.

You can think of doing nothing as a metaphor for going to Silent Hill. In Silent Hill, the main character exists outside of the "real" world, the so-called "real" life. Their actual, physical body is almost always unknown in regards to its whereabouts, because their external body is irrelevant in a place which is a product of your subconscious.

Like when in the video game Silent Hill, when you're doing nothing for extensive periods of time, you go into an inner journey in your Inner World, where you can confront thoughts and emotions you otherwise repress, because you focus on things externally of you, like day-to-day responsibilities.

The work on the self is as important as the work for others, since every action begins within the self, and the self is the center of the action that is done for either yourself or others, and once that self is damaged due to negligence, that damage is delivered indirectly to others as well in the form of your actions.

The most common example of what I'm trying to convey is in Silent Hill 2, where the hero, James Sunderland, isn't actually in a place within the world. Silent Hill is merely a product of his subconscious. The monsters he confronts throughout the game do not exist beyond his mind; rather, they are representations of his repressed thoughts and emotions, and his confrontations with them is a metaphor of him dealing with his various repressions and denials.

The more monsters he confronts, the better he will be able to reach the end of the game -- a certain revelation which shall set him free and redeem his impure villainy.

The same is possible when doing nothing - you get a chance to confront your automatic thoughts and emotions which shape your personality and your system of beliefs. Even when you don't do anything externally of you, you can, by doing nothing, to inspect things about yourself you usually ignore and put them into view; a view pure of distractions.

When put in that way, doing nothing can seem to be like either an adventure or a psychological horror. Perhaps this is why there is this common fear to be alone - it is the fear of doing nothing. If there is this fear, then it must have some kind of reason to be feared, and that reason I believe is the fear of confrontation with the repressed, dark self; the self we are told to keep to ourselves, for it is not wanted. Solitude, after all, is a pathaway towards self-discovery. Writing, for example, is a very solitary activity, and as such, allows us to know ourselves better.

Little did they know, the lack of handling the darkness of the self can hurt others as well, as described before, and that is why doing nothing can be utilized to optimal productivity -- to know yourself better, and use that acquired self-knowledge for the benefit of others. Thus, this staying within the Internal World isn't necessarily a purely egotistical act, but an act that can be used to serve others and their own difficulties in life.

We need to know ourselves better to know how we can use ourselves optimally for others. How can we make good use of our potential if we lack knowledge of it?

And finally, there is obviously the most helpful function of doing nothing: To relieve one's stress and calm down from the intensities of the external world. I don't want to generalize my thoughts to all of humanity, but I think many of us, if not most of us, need some alone time, even if that time entails doing nothing and chilling out. The world is a very stressful, very competitive place. Even by not putting a lot of thought into contemplation, the self can be repaired nonetheless by resting, whether one's eyes are closed or open.

What I want to promote in this article is this: Nothingness should be its own value due to what we can do with it, and by it I refer to the internal work that can be done as we idle externally. The biggest flaw in financial materialism is the belief that what we seek for is necessarily and always external to us, while in practice, what we seek for can be found within through the exposure and the alternation of our thoughts into a mindset that will make us happier, more serene beings beyond the stresses of the external world.

Thoughts, after all, are more powerful than most may think. They are more than just chatter that accompanies us throughout our lives; they are the material, the energy, of which our wellbeing is composed of. Without the importance of thoughts, there would be no need for psychology or for certain aspects of philosophy.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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