Normalizing the act of doing nothing

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readNov 27, 2021

Even as I write this, I’m thinking of sitting outside my second floor apartment and just staring out at what seems like nothing. Thoughts of seeing little movements of almost somethings happening are making me happy.

The sounds of cars passing by or doors closing in the distance only happen after long stretches of hearing almost no sound. Still, there must be sound happening all around. I just can’t hear it, and I like that there isn’t much of anything to hear.

When I think of the happiest people in the world, I think of older men sitting outside their front doors and looking out into the world with appreciation that there are moments to do just what they are doing in that moment. They’ve lived their life. They’ve heard a lot of noise, sometimes too much noise. Now, they want to sit and appreciate what they see around them.

They aren’t waiting for a parade to pass by or hoping for a ride to pick them up. They know what time it is because it’s about the same time of day that they come together for a whole lot of nothing. They aren’t listening for the phone to ring. The TV set is inside and turned off.

They are doing what I feel like doing right now — nothing. I think people that do nothing for good chunks of their existence live happier, longer lives. They do what they have to do to feed their families and pay the bills, and when that is out of the way, they just sit and relax.

During those times of silence and thought, their appreciation for what they have intensifies. At the end of the day, they have time to think about what they did, how hard they worked at doing it, and how much others are benefitting from it. After thinking about all that, they smile, knowing that life is passing by too quickly and sitting and smiling isn’t done as much as it should be done.

Society frowns at those of us that are even thinking of spending time doing nothing. We are told that there is too much too do and too little time to do it. We are lectured on the value of using our free time going above and beyond, spending more time at work, doing something for someone else.



Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.