Doing "Nothing"

by Voltairina 1 min read29th Mar 201216 comments

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It might be a useful habit to remember, whenever you're making a choice about some situation, that "doing nothing" is never actually an available option. Even if you avoid doing the task you're considering, you're still making some kind of choice about how you spend your time, and you're still doing something relative to that task. For example, if the task is "paint the barn" the alternative is "leave the bare barn exposed to the elements", not "store the barn in some impermeable stasis field and return to paint it later". Being able to clearly articulate what that "nothing" slot entails, its consequences and rewards, might be a helpful way to motivate yourself to make better choices.

I am working on internalising this, because if I don't think about it, a part of me tends to just think that I'm doing the equivalent of sticking the task in an atemporal stasis field instead of leaving it unattended. If I don't exercise, I don't stay "the same amount fit". I get weaker (or, as aelephant points out, I could be getting stronger, during a recovery period - in which case "doing nothing" (as far as exercise) is the better option, after evaluation) . If I don't study, I don't stay "the same amount knowledgeable". I forget. Sure, there are things which remain effectively "in stasis" - Olympus Mons will probably stay about the same whether I climb it in ten years (somehow) or a hundred years - but I won't be the same by then. Or things that are so transient and commonplace that they might as well be in stasis - If I'm thinking of going somewhere, I might think, "I might miss catching this taxi cab, but I miss cabs all the time, there are always more cabs, and I can catch another one". But subjectively static opportunities are rare.

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