The Dutch solution to busyness that captivated the world

From The BBC:

Niksen – a Dutch wellness trend that means “doing nothing” – has caught the attention of the world as a way to manage stress or recover from burnout.

The Hague, where I live, has 11km of gorgeous coastline with rolling dunes and sandy beaches. In summer, I often see locals in Scheveningen or Kijkduin (the city’s most famous beaches) sunbathing, strolling in nature or riding their bikes, then sitting down on one of the many benches available. Sometimes, they’re reading or chatting with their friends, but just as often, they’re engaging in niksen.

Niksen is a Dutch wellness trend that means “doing nothing”. It first caught the attention of the world in 2019 as a way to manage stress or recover from burnout. At the time, many people were complaining about exhaustion and depression caused by overwork and were looking for solutions – which is why concepts such as Japanese ikigai or Danish hyggealso entered the English lexicon. As a linguist myself, I loved the idea that you could express the whole concept of doing nothing in one short and easy-to-pronounce word.

In my book Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing, I define it as “doing nothing without a purpose” – so not scrolling on Facebook or engaging in meditation. Whereas mindfulness is about being present in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be, letting your mind wander wherever it wants to go. And as we’re slowly recovering after the pandemic, it’s important to rethink the way we work and spend our time.

Linguistically, niksen (doing nothing) is a verb created from “niks“, which means “nothing”.

“It fits with the tendency of the Dutch language to create verbs out of nouns. From from ‘voetbal’ (football) to voetballen (playing football), from ‘internet’ to internetten, from ‘whatsapp‘ to whatsappen etc. I think this is something that happens in Dutch in particular,” said Monique Flecken, a psycholinguist at the University of Amsterdam, who researches how the languages we speak affect the way we see the world. Essentially, it’s much less work to say “niksen” instead of “to do nothing”. “The Dutch are a practical, direct people and their language reflects that,” she said.

Link to the rest at BBC