May 25, 2017

Do Nothing

People are always in a rush to do something, anything. But sometimes doing nothing is a viable alternative that should be considered.

If you are bleeding profusely, you probably need medical intervention. However, in my experience, things like aches and pains often go away on their own if one is patient.

Even though we have universal health care in Canada, I try to stay away from doctors as much as possible. The average "medical professional" will want to do something even if doing nothing is the way to go. Sometimes the cure is worse than the issue at hand.

Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) in the US, a statistic that reflects what can happen in any modern medical system with a do-something-at-any-cost mentality. And the cost of these errors in the US? 1 trillion dollars per year.

"It has taken a lot to prove to [the medical community] that many of these deaths are not a natural consequence of the underlying disease. They are purely failures of the system." 
- Ashish Jha, MD, Harvard School of Public Health

I have often found that things I initially thought were problems, given the passage of time, were not anything I needed to do something about. The problem fixes itself without my intervention, or I discover that I was wrong, and no problem existed in the first place.

Either way, nothing needed to be done.

The best is when you do have a problem, then wait patiently, and find that the problem fixes itself. It can happen. Often, vehicle issues fall under this category. Linda and I call this "self-fixing", and it has happened often in the vehicles we have owned. Only once have we ever been stranded at the side of the road. At that point it was time to do something.

I have to wonder if self-fixing has something to do with the power of thoughts, quantum mechanics, and the underlying reality of the Universe. What if we are way more powerful than we think?

Or when one has a broken heart. What is to be done? Nothing. Be patient and let time work its magic.

If you have a gash in your skin and you are bleeding all over the place, you should do something about it, and right away. But we do not always need to spring into action for every perceived "problem".

In the right situations, all we need to do is give ourselves permission to do nothing.


  1. Anonymous5/25/2017

    I agree doing nothing can be good, not just for solving problems but also just to relax and let time pass by - we needn't have a solution to everything that involves action nor must we keep ourselves constantly busy. It was also interesting to read about the medical mistakes causing deaths, a scary fact but hopefully easily fixed.

  2. Anonymous5/25/2017

    Wow, I hear you. Recently I was diagnosed with a detached retina, which, obviously, must be repaired. However, before this happened, I had not visited a doctor in ten years. The reason? Well, nothing major was wrong with me, thank God. I do my best to stay healthy through a sensible diet and reasonable exercise, don't smoke, drink very moderately, all the good stuff. I've had some aches and pains which I've monitored and I'm aware of my family history so I know what signs really demand professional attention. And I try to keep a positive attitude! I honestly think that is the best way to go through life.


  3. Anonymous5/26/2017

    Wu Wei (chinese, literally “non-doing”) is an important concept of Taoism and means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life. Saffron

  4. Anonymous5/26/2017

    The post, and the previous one (which was beautiful, thank you), really hit home right now. I am just finishing up a week of vacation from work. The first half we took a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles to see my boyfriend's mother, and to do some bird watching (our hobby). It really was go go go all the time and I came home exhausted. Not that it wasn't a good trip, it was. Just so busy. So the last part of my vacation I've just wanted to relax, chill, decompress. My boyfriend keeps asking me what I want to are on vacation you know! He generally is a low key guy, but as we all can, just got caught up in the "it's vacation!! Do Something!!!" mode, instead of just reading, watching one of the cats take a nap (such a relaxing thing to do is watch a sleeping cat), or sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine. Thank you for these meaningful posts to remind us both to step back and do less or nothing. -- Mary

  5. Anonymous5/27/2017

    Doing nothing is cat is an expert at it!

    If I were Prime Minister i would declare a month's holiday in the middle of Winter (other than for the most essential services). Everything in nature rests over Winter, only we foolish humans think we can run like machines all year and not suffer the consequences.


  6. Anonymous5/27/2017

    Great points here, as you say there is a way of the universe and according to Daoism if you follow the way there are numerous benefits and healing. The body once giving the right conditions will align and heal itself with the way (Daoism, 道).
    As Saffron mentions wuwei (无为) is the key to this.

  7. Anonymous5/27/2017

    Madeleine, I would vote for you! Winter is the time of going inward and seems that the Christmas holiday just revs people up to do, do, do. What a waste.
    Classical music, essential oils, and a dog on my lap are helping to calm me this afternoon. The wind chime on my porch is great backup for this soothing environment. I love that I get to choose my environment! I used to think I was at the whim of what others wanted - no more. Now I know that I require time to be, and that is good.
    Thanks for starting a great conversation, Gregg and Linda!

    1. Anonymous5/27/2017

      Thanks Erin, your afternoon sounds perfect!


  8. There are times in my life where doing nothing has served me well. Someone once told me a quote. "When you don't know what to do, do nothing." He said by choosing to do nothing, the right answer will often come into view. Sometimes the right answer is to continue to do nothing.
    On the other hand, I've done nothing sometimes and time made decisions for me because it eliminated options. I think overall we live in a "fix it now" culture, avoid all discomfort at all costs. It's like a knee jerk reaction because we've been programmed to do.


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