Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

With simple strategies based on expert advice and cultural observations, Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing by Olga Mecking encourages taking breaks.

Niksen--Dutch for nothing-ing--is what Mecking, a decade-long resident of the Netherlands, has pinpointed as key to the country's high happiness ranking. "With a generous social support system, short workweeks, and a lot of time off, this country is almost a niksen paradise," she explains. This allowance for downtime, she notes, provides ample benefits: increased clarity, creativity, productivity and effectiveness. Other countries could adopt this model if they overcame a critical obstacle: the compulsion to stay busy. "Busyness has now become the ultimate status symbol" because a person has visible value when they are seen working. Particularly for women, the expectation that they constantly plan or spend leisure time on self-care means doing nothing never happens. But by reevaluating goals and habits, resisting societal pressures to overperform and accepting help, individuals can introduce short yet meaningful periods for niksen.

Citing experts in psychology, happiness, boredom, stress and productivity, as well as providing appendix material with additional resources and an extensive bibliography, Mecking outlines why and how to take true breaks. She proposes niksen to augment one's lifestyle, chiding wellness trends that require intense time commitments or demand self-improvement. By differentiating niksen from mindfulness and rumination, she elucidates how uncommon restful moments have become. Yet she expresses hope that, beginning with the individual, society can follow these clear and effective steps to managing stress, living healthier and increasing happiness. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

Powered by: Xtenit