Niksen: New Kind of Mindfulness or Art of Being Lazybones?

In psychology, just like in any other field, new trends are constantly emerging. One of such trends, which is going to be liked by many an American, is called niksen. It is a Dutch way of doing nothing – just letting your mind flow with no particular purpose. What is it? A new way of relaxation or an elaborate excuse for lazy employees?

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Nordic lifestyle methods have recently been gaining in popularity, with more and more approaches to adjustment of life pace being introduced every year. The new concept of niksen, which originated in the Netherlands, makes the Danish hygge and Swedish lagom so 2017.

Actually, there is nothing new in niksen: doing nothing has always been part of various cultures, from Ancient Greece to modern societies. It’s even strange that the act of doing nothing–however weird it may sound–has to have a separate name as if it has just been invented. Niksen means just that – doing nothing or being idle. You sweep your mind and leave only meaningless thoughts that do not make you busy. You’ve got a paper to work on? Let it wait. There are a dozen of problems you have to tackle simultaneously? Not a big deal – just niksen your life from time to time, they say, and it will be OK.

Pure mind

Niksen is the state of languor: you keep your problems and duties at bay doing nothing or engaging in activities that do not require mental effort, like listening to music, looking out of the window, or doing something that fits the definition of indolence.

One should differentiate between niksen and mindfulness: the former is doing nothing, and the latter is focusing on the present, realizing your own self in the world, and “feeling” the world around you. Niksen is something of a “relax mode” while awake: you stop thinking about anything that could stress you. It’s a “thorough enjoyment of life pauses”.

According to the trend proponents, such an approach can help you stay healthy. We are always being told to enjoy life to the full, and for some reason, the way to enjoy life lies through earning money: having to bring home the bacon or pursuing a career forces you to spend every single minute doing something useful, something that helps achieve your goals. So, niksen is the word for the counterpart of being productive.

A typical niksen guru. Image Credit:

Not so good?

In the past, the term used to have a negative connotation, but as more people are experiencing burnouts, the concept of doing nothing is starting to appeal to many a person willing to switch their attention to something else. On the one hand, it’s reasonable: everyone needs some rest, and after hours of hard work some activities that help you relax would not hurt. On the other one, too much niksen can spoil not only the day but the whole way of living.

For those who really dedicate every moment of their day to working, niksen can be a revelation and a way to relieve stress. Yet are we really that busy?

Procrastination has always been a major problem for many people regardless of age: we do meaningless things to avoid doing something that is really important, in a vain attempt to convince ourselves we will manage to do it later. If abused, niksen can be the first step to procrastination: doing nothing is so alluring and, well, captivating that you can find it hard to start working again afterward. Short breaks are OK, but what about people who are niksening all day long?

The message here is not to deter you from niksen: relaxation is part of a normal human life, and looking at trees or just letting your thoughts flow could be a good way to restore energy. It’s just that such a practice of doing nothing should be used in moderation. Activities, working, communicating and doing something useful promote both body and mind health, so turning into a master niksener is not a good idea. Or are you already one?

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