I was very grateful for the opportunity to deliver a talk at TEDxReading 2017 on the topic of 'Why Nothing Really Matters'. It was a wonderful day with some thought provoking speakers. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the audio recording. Which means I’m unable to post the video recording. I thought I’d post the transcript of the talk below and a few pictures from the day. I hope you enjoy it!
“Awkward, isn’t it........nothingness”.
We have this idea that life is like packing a suitcase for a trip, we have a fixed amount of space and a fixed number of tasks we try to fit in. Some of us who are more organised manage to fit everything in, then there are the rest of us who are disorganised and end up sitting on the suitcase to try and force it shut.
We have become victims of information overload, with very little time for excursions into our inner world. In our age of connectivity, we have become disconnected from ourselves. Introspection and reflection are a distant memory to many people, the balance between being active and inactive is leaning heavily to being overly active. Yet it can be extremely beneficial to, ‘Not Be Busy!’. Doing nothing can be great for our well-being.
Busyness can also be a very effective defence mechanism for warding off disturbing thoughts and feelings. It is when we are truly doing nothing that we can finally confront what matters.
I want to ask you to do something for me, put your hands up if you have ever used your mobile whilst in the bathroom.
Me to! In a study called, ‘IT in the Toilet’ it was found that 75% of us use their mobile phones whilst in the bathroom. With 29% of people saying that they do it to avoid boredom. UK adults spend an average of 8hrs 41 mins on screens every day. This is more time than we spend sleeping! It has become that bad that there is even a digital detox retreat to help people disconnect from their digital devices and reconnect with the world offline.
A fear of boredom, missing out, loneliness and fear of being overwhelmed by anxious depressive thoughts could be part of the underlying dread of being alone with one’s thoughts.
Doing nothing and boredom are closely linked. While most of us find it hard to tolerate boredom, it can trigger our imagination and creativity, creating limitless possibilities.
We have an almost limitless selection of entertainment and distraction to hand, it’s easier to find ourselves in a state of constant busyness than it is to do nothing. Our constant activities online – a world of multitasking and hyperactivity – help us to convince ourselves that we are productive.