A Japanese word and sometimes doing nothing

Child sitting at a school desk and gazing out of the window

Boketto: The act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking about anything specific (Japanese).

This week's word is courtesy of one of our clients. It's a Japanese word that doesn't really have an English equivalent. It was a new concept for me. I couldn't think of a good way to connect it to something IT-related, but decided it was worth sharing anyway.

So what is boketto?

Fortunately, the person who suggested it to me also sent me a useful link. (Thank you so much — you know who you are.) And a brief Google search netted a few more links with similar explanations.

The definition above is exactly what it is. Boketto allows time for the subconscious to kick in while all you do is stare into the distance and enjoy just being.

It is not the same as daydreaming, which is more about wishful thinking. And it's not the same as meditation or mindfulness, where you try to centre your thoughts. It's more like a moment of complete mental silence.

We've all experienced moments when we stare at nothing and think about nothing. Children do it. And, from my experience with an elderly parent, so do the very old.

But, if you are like me, you probably don't allow yourself to do it. I know that if I start doing it, I give myself a mental shake and a stern reminder to get some work done.

Stop the world

We are overwhelmed by information and distractions and worries. From deadlines to household tasks to social media rabbit holes. For many of us, the pandemic has increased our work load. And that's without the very real mental health cost that is also part of Covid-19.

I am not prone to anxiety or pessimism, but I recognise that my stress levels are higher than ever before. Sometimes I am tempted to set a screen-saver that says: "Stop the world, I want to get off."

The importance of not doing

It turns out that we should give ourselves some "boketto" time.

We need to give our brains a mental rest every now and then. We can read all the tips about work productivity. But if we’re stressed, tired, exhausted ... it might be time to take a moment to do nothing. Because sometimes the best way to be more productive is to do nothing at all.

Switching off your brain for a few minutes can help you relax and calm down. And you may even find that new ideas and solutions pop into your head.

I've never had the patience or inclination to meditate. But this concept makes sense. Try it for a few minutes after you've read this email. Don't dream or worry or think. Just gaze out of the window.
Disengage. Relax. Boketto.

I'd love to hear your comments on this. Please share your thoughts - and any suggested words.

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