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Boketto: The importance of non-doing

Two for You — take two minutes to live and lead with intention

Episode 5.1

When’s the last time you did NOTHING? We often rush from one thing to the next. Yet, non-doing can help our decision making, our creativity, and our problem-solving.

We can learn a lot from looking at cultures across the world. In this episode, we explore Boketto and why it is important for your leadership.

Boketto (noun):
Gazing vacantly into the distance without really thinking about anything specific.

“Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity.”

— Jon Kabat Zinn



Note: Two for You written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.

[Lori] Hello and welcome to Two for You. So, Denise, when's the last time you sat and just did nothing?

[Denise] Nothing.

[Lori] Yah Nothing.

[Denise] Describe nothing.

[Lori] Well, I mean like staring, maybe like staring off into the vast distance and not thinking about anything in specific.

[Denise] No, I don't think I can recall a time that I've done that for a long time.

[Lori] Right. Like so it's not something that's natural to us, or at least in our culture. It's, you know, we're kind of prescribe to go busy, always check the next thing off the list, and be doing things all the time.

Yet, in Japan, they have a term for this idea of non-doing called Boketto. And I love it. So this idea of just staring off at the vast distance and not thinking about anything in specific

[Denise] And then something new when you think about it, you might think, oh, that means I'm bored or I'm wasting time. But the research shows that the frontal lobes of our brain, the ones that deal with reasoning and planning to decision-making and judgment. They're much more creative for us when our brains are still.

So we're not talking about mindfulness here. Mindfulness you are still wanting to be attentive, have intention in the moment. We're saying we just want you to be blank, stare out and be blank and brain. Yeah, give your brain that chance to rewire and be creative.

[Lori] Yeah, it is interesting, because we're also finding that this idea of stillness and being able to sit still. We're actually able to do less. We're becoming more wired.

Our brains are becoming more wired to do because we have our smartphones and for constantly on social media or looking at what's next. And so practicing Boketto is going to be more and more important for us as leaders so we can kind of quiet our minds to make these decisions and, and resolve problems.

So that's our challenge to you this month. When you find yourself staring off into the distance and not doing, absorb it. Practice it right? Really bring that in and as you live and lead with intention, integrate some Boketto into your life.

Authors: Lori Rothstein and Denise Stromme, former Extension educators

Reviewed in 2020

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