Wu Wei Wifi Cafe
Today, I’ve decided to do nothing. In fact, I may do nothing from here on in.
Now before you go ahead and think that I’ve reclined into a life of indifference and apathy, allow me to explain.
You see, “doing nothing” is the central tenet behind the ancient Taoist principle, Wu Wei. It may sound counterproductive, but in truth, it works in quite the opposite manner.
Another way to think of Wu Wei is as the paradoxical “Action of non-action.” It is an ancient eastern philosophical principle long overdue in our modern western world.
If you think deeply enough about it, you’ll realize that there is something wrong with us, though it’s not entirely our fault. Society has misguided, misled, and deceived us into believing that we must always be frenetically accomplishing various tasks. If we aren’t doing something, then we’re doing nothing, and that’s a massive taboo in today’s world.
Journey Versus Destination
Resting and playing, which I might add, is typical in the animal kingdom; we equate with “wasting time.” Forget the journey; it’s only about the destination now.
A frantic unabated race to absolutely nowhere. We are overstressed, overworked, overbooked, and overburdened.
Like an ill-fated runaway train, we know we should jump off but can’t bring ourselves to.
I have found my venture into digital marketing to be a microcosm of this current state. The learning curve is steep, and the sheer volume of information all-encompassing. It’s hard to know where to start and just when to end.
From social networks to web design to driving traffic and initializing autoresponders, it can all be a little too much too soon. You learn fast enough to pare down and direct your focus. If not, you’ll quickly find yourself accomplishing very little, if anything at all.
While technology, with its inherent benefits, can be a helpful tool, it hides a very dark side. There is something fundamentally unnatural about spending countless hours in front of a screen. A slow stalking malevolent serpent gradually makes its presence known soon after one embraces the digital world full-time.
This past year I have spent many an hour in front of my laptop working on my brand. During this time, I noticed a distinct change in my mental state—a slow but sure drift from symbiosis to psychological and physical imbalance.
As is true with drugs, sex, and alcohol, dopamine can take on a very negative characteristic.
Dopamine is the feel-good chemical that gets you high. That same high you feel when your post gets a “like” or “retweet.”
Psychologists are quite aware of the negative impact this is having on young people. Whereas, before the digital age, children would turn to family and peers to affirm their self-worth, self-respect, and sense of belonging, social media has now coopted this role.
As a result, we see increased rates of depression, anxiety, and, most tragically, suicide.
More recently, studies have shown a direct correlation between various mental disorders in children and the overuse of technology. According to Richard Louv, columnist and member of the editorial advisory board for Parents magazine, decreased time spent in nature has resulted in what psychologists refer to as “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
Bad News Good News
It’s not just dopamine that affects you adversely but overexposure to negative news stories that pop up in your browser. I don’t care how disciplined one thinks they are; it’s called clickbait for a good reason.
I am not a stranger to that of which I speak. Being a little older and somewhat wiser, I’ve developed coping strategies to better deal with mental malaise.
Wu Wei, pronounced “woo way,” is one such method. The Tao te Ching, the basis for Wu Wei, translates as “the way of the world.” The fundamental building block of Wu Wei is the concept of “actionless action” or “effortless action.”
The Wanting Mind
Strengthening our connection with nature as well as each other helps to relieve mental stress and tension. This tension arises from what the ancients referred to as the “wanting mind.” The misguided notion that we’d be happier if only we had that particular thing or circumstance.
Finding ourselves at point A in our lives, we falsely believe we would be happier or more fulfilled at point B. In doing so, we unconsciously devalue our current status, disengaging to the detriment of our mental state.
There is no future time when all will be well and fine. Believing that someplace or thing holds the key to our happiness cheats us out of the contentment and joy we could be experiencing at this very moment.
If we are too busy with desire or ambition, we will miss a thousand moments of the human experience.
Head To The Hills
The natural world has become sequestered. A spectacle that we laud from the pages of our Facebook and Instagram accounts. A wise philosopher once said, “If you are unhappy, go for a walk. If you are still unhappy, then go for another walk.”
It’s not only the fact that nature is our natural habitat, but as Lao Tzu points out, it reminds us of essential virtues that we can and should adopt into our lives. The resilience of trees, the strength of mountains, the flexibility of water, and the joy and happiness of flowers.
More Being Less Becoming
The ancients recognized their place within the Tao and sought to learn from it. We have lost this innate wisdom, viewing ourselves instead as being separate and distinct from nature. As songwriter Joni Mitchell so poignantly penned, “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
Our thoughts are often consumed by who we want to be rather than who we already are. Wu Wei encourages more being and less becoming.
Absolving yourself of the belief that you must achieve this or have that alleviates the stress and anxiety that is hindering you from accomplishing your goals. With the desired outcome, no longer our singular focus, the journey becomes more meaningful.
You become like a leaf floating along with the stream. Its strength becomes your strength. No longer forcing your way past obstacles but rather, flowing gently over and around them. Effortless effort. Actionless action. This is Wu Wei.
35 thoughts on “Wu Wei Wifi Cafe”
Definitely take a walk every morning and pour into a positive mindset! These might be keys to finding happiness in the digital world rather than the information overload. When you’re mind has cleared, pick ONE thing and master it to avoid overwhelm.
I find watching the sunrise and the sunset very calming. I love sitting alone in the stillness of the early morning. I can hear my thoughts, I can listen to my body. I want to read more about Wu Wei. Reading this post made me really interested in it. .
I am happy you enjoyed it.
The Wu Wei concept is interesting. Reading this post makes me realized how blessed I am for not having any major problems. Everyday, I allot a me time to list all the things I’m grateful for. Instead of thinking what I want to have, I thank God for what I already have.
Beautiful philosophy! Reading this post is a sort of relaxation, but at the same time it brings me to self-reflection on how I see life. At the end I agree totally that the teaching of less becoming and more being should be applied in our being and how we interact with our lives and the journey is as integral as the destination.
The wu wei concept is really interesting, a nice concept, good you enjoyed it
Well written and great read. I always say I wish life was like it was when I was growing up to my children. I feel they loose focus on the real life now so easily!
I am a big fan of leisurely walks and weekends at the beach. I’ve definitely notice the impacts social media has on my life (as a millennial) and I am making efforts to change that. Great post! A friendly reminder to get out and about.
This is a beautiful, well-written post. I enjoyed reading it. I find peace in staring at the ceiling and listening to classical music with headphones on. But that’s kind of hard to do these days now that I’m a mom. A quiet time to myself is a rare luxury. lol
Having raised a few kids myself I can appreciate what you are saying.
This concept sounds very interesting and intriguing. It’s the first time we have ever read about it.
I like to ride by bike when I refocus. It is nice to unplug from time to time and get away from screen time.
Thanks for sharing this. I like the idea now of doing nothing. I can’t seem to stop working. I mean doing something. Even on supposed days off, I buzz around like a bee. It would be nice to stop for a while.
Such a nice post and I enjoyed reading it. That wu wei concept looks so interesting and social media really have a big impact today in our society most especially to our teens and I hope we are able change their view about it.
I think it’s because we’re raised with all of these expectations from the people around us that it’s tough to slow down and just enjoy life. It’s a good reminder for all of us to learn to take a break from time to time and just enjoy what we’ve worked so hard for.
Exactly, we all need to slow down a bit but the media keeps reinforcing the old, “you need more” call to action.
This sounds like an interesting concept. I find nature quite calming and relaxing so find myself drawn to it to help me when I feel stressed.
It is your true home.
Taking breaks is totally normal! Every time you feel overwhelmed which is sometimes that everyone feels once in a while just take a break. Sometimes I need to have a week off to come back with full force!
Sounds like you have a good sense of self.
This puts into words lots of things I’ve been feeling lately! I was on vacation last week and just spending time sitting and doing nothing felt glorious. Watching the ocean and having tea… we need more do nothing time!
It is true. Balance is key to a healthy life.
I like this Wu Wei method of being. There is so much stress in our daily lives filling our minds with worry. I think it is really best that we stop and enjoy the little blessings in life. I also like your analogy to “be like a floating leaf.” I will try to apply that in my life.
Thank you for your kind comments.
I really enjoyed reading this and I think this line ” that the journey is as integral as the destination,” is so profound. Life is a journey with ups and down, we don’t always have control but must learn to detach ourselves from our situations and understand that not every outcome is directly linked to our actions. And yes finding coping mechanisms for those stressful times is so key. Thanks for sharing. Wu-wei sounds very therapeutic. (Chinedu from Bloggers United)
You are most welcome. The ancients knew a thing or two. lol
I love how interesting your posts are and I always seem to read them at the right moment. Whenever I am feeling down your posts inspire me to stay positive and motivated
I couldn’t agree more! This is why I take breaks from my blog as well as social from time to time.
You have to once in a while.
I have never heaard of the Wu wei concept before but reading your post gave so much insight. Nature has always been very calming for me, taking some out of my day, spending it watching the sunset always soothes me. Thanks for sharing this post and inspiring me today!
You are most welcome
nice and philosophical thought..really a great article..