“Niksen is niks”. But niksen is also good for everything.

According to the annual World Happiness Report, the Danish seem to be the happiest people in the entire universe. Yet, Meik Wiking, the author of The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well and The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish Search for the World’s Happiest People, comes to prove we all can be that happy if we know what to concentrate on.

As time goes by, we discover that more and more people living in different countries struggle to invent and adhere to new and innovative trends that will bring jolliness and contentedness in their lives. And the Dutch make no exception to this. Quite familiar with the Hygge concept, which they call gezelligheid, people in The Netherlands have found a way to become happier and more relaxed also by embracing life’s breaks.

What exactly do I mean by this? Well, there is a new thing that has become some sort of a buzzword in the wellness world. That thing is niksen.

What is niksen and how does it work?

Niksen means doing nothing or, more specifically, performing an action without a clear purpose or a deadline. Doing sometimes just for the sake of doing something.

For instance, for the Dutchies, looking out the window as people pass or going to the beach to stare at the waves for a while is considered niksen. And by doing so, they obtain a state of calmness, of tranquility that they really like.


Caroline Hamming, a coach at CRS Centrum, an organization devoted to fighting stress and burnout, states that niksen is great for people suffering from burnout. Taking some time in their daily struggles to just sit back and relax, helps them increase their creativity and productivity.

I have first heard of the concept of “doing nothing” in the movie Eat, Pray, Love where the Italians from the barber’s shop told Liz about “dolce far niente”, meaning the pleasure of enjoying yourself and the time you spent doing… well, mostly nothing.


So then, what’s all the fuss about with niksen?

The Dutchies didn’t invent this concept and we already have mindfulness

Indeed, niksen does seem utterly similar to mindfulness. However, contrary to mindfulness, niksen does not require that you focus your entire attention on the present moment. Or also become one with the current surroundings. Niksen allows you to think, or not, about anything you want, the mind is free to wonder around.

I don’t know about you, but I usually find it pretty difficult to focus on the present and get relaxed. Also, while actually “fighting my thoughts” so I will gladly try the niksen way from now on.

Going back to why it is better ‘to niksen’ instead of doing nothing as the Italians do it, my two cents on it is that this has something to do with how they are built. As opposed to Italians, who are known for their fondness for leisure activities, the Dutch tend to be more like the Americans when it comes to these things. Although most Dutch people are not workaholics as the Americans, they like to get everything done and the activities they perform are usually goal-oriented. Even when they relax by cycling, they do it with a purpose, to get some fresh air and stay fit. So, it is only normal that they are able to appreciate and even benefit more from niksen.

Do you niksen when you feel tired and stressed out? What do you like to do or… not do?

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