How I’m Learning to Do Nothing Better

distracted driver

I have a confession to make:

I sometimes check my email while I’m driving.

In my defense, I only do it when I’m stopped at a red light. But still.

There is absolutely no good reason for me to be putting myself and everyone else on the road in danger. And make no mistake: that’s exactly what I’m doing when I check out of driving (even partially and temporarily) and into my phone.

I’m also distracting myself from a few moments of nothingness.

As a society, we’ve gotten really bad at coping with nothingness.

We never have to sit and do nothing. We have mental stimulation at our fingertips all the time.

I think having unlimited information, connection, and entertainment options literally in my pocket is pretty dang cool. I’m #teamInternet all the way.

But I also realize that constant stimulation is not good for my brain.

So, thanks to an Internet article shared by a Happiness Conspiracy member, I’ve decided to use red lights to practice doing nothing.

Whenever I come to a red light, instead of reaching for my phone I am choosing to take a few deep breaths while I wait for the light to change.

It’s sort of like a little mindfulness practice.

I’ve been doing this for about a week, and I still have to remind myself every single time. The craving to occupy myself is strong. I’ve succumbed to a “quick peek” more than once.

But I can already tell that I’m getting a little more comfortable with nothingness. I’m handling short-term boredom better.

And, I’m sure, I’m becoming a much safer driver.

Tell me: do you check your phone while you’re driving?

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  1. Megan says:

    I do this too – although I don’t see the danger in it if you can keep one eye on the light (I’m very good at sensing that change, oddly).


    I have been thinking about this lately too. Why do I need to be entertained all the time? I’ve been trying to get Mack out of the habit of taking his iPod or phone with him when we go out because he just throws on the headphones and is gone. There are places we go regularly that he doesn’t have a clue how to get to (this may be a function of the stroke as well, but I suspect inattention is the main culprit). Time to set the example.
    Megan’s most recent post: Seattle Skyline

  2. Andi says:

    I’ve been thinking so much about this lately…why am I compelled to check my phone if I have 30 free seconds? I’m going to challenge myself as well, thanks!

  3. Yes. Also when I’m stopped at a light. But I agree that’s it’s good to disconnect for a few minutes and break the addiction of constantly needing to be updated.
    Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)’s most recent post: Halloween when you don’t really care about Halloween

  4. KW Stout says:

    My bad habit is grabbing my phone when I first wake up and not being able to put it down. Doing nothing has become a legitimate challenge in today’s world. It’s nice to intentionally disconnect from time to time though, like you’re doing.
    KW Stout’s most recent post: Happiness is a Choice

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