Niksen’ like the Dutch: how you can accomplish more — by doing nothing

Niksen is niks,” yet niksen is also useful in a variety of situations. With the passage of time, we learn that people from all cultures establish and follow new, innovative trends that are claimed to bring joy and contentment into their lives.

This is also true with the Dutch. People in the Netherlands have discovered a method to become happier and more relaxed by embracing life’s breaks. They are familiar with the hygge concept, which they call gezelligheid.

What exactly does this imply? We’re talking about niksen, a Dutch idea that has become something of a wellness buzzword.

What exactly is niksen and how does it function?
Niksen is a Japanese word that implies “doing nothing” or “doing something without a defined aim or deadline.” Performing an action solely for the purpose of performing an action.

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Looking out the window just to watch people pass by or walking to the beach to stare at the waves for a long are both called niksen by the Dutch. The Dutch achieve a sense of serenity and tranquility by participating in niksen.

Caroline Hamming, a coach at CRS Centrum — an organization devoted to fighting stress and burnout — states that niksen is great for people suffering from burnout. Taking some time in the midst of your daily struggles to just sit back and relax helps you increase your creativity and productivity.

I first heard of the concept of “doing nothing” in the movie Eat, Pray, Love where the Italians from the barbershop explain Liz the idea of “dolce far niente” — the sweetness of doing nothing.

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So then, what’s all the fuss about with niksen?

The Dutch didn’t invent this concept and while it seems utterly similar to mindfulness, the two are not the same thing. Niksen doesn’t require that you focus your entire attention on the present moment, or become one with your surroundings. Quite the contrary, niksen allows you to think — or not — about anything you want. The mind is simply free to wander.

Going back to why Dutch prefer to niksen over just “doing nothing” (like the Italians do), my two cents on it is that this has something to do with how they are built. As opposed to Italians, who are known for their fondness for leisure activities, the Dutch tend to be more like the Americans when it comes to these things.

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Although most Dutch people are not workaholics, they do like to get everything done and the activities they perform are usually goal-oriented. Even when they relax by cycling, they do it with a purpose — to get some fresh air and stay fit. So, it is only normal that they are able to appreciate and even benefit more from niksen.


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