\ Joy Dieting, Part One | Christina Brandt

Christina Brandt

Thursday, July 25th, 2024 | Making "What's Next?" What Matters ™

Tomorrow evening marks the first of 10 meetings with my coaching book group. We’re reading The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck. Beck outlines her “Ten Ingredients for Joy,” and our group’s working on adding each ingredient, week by week, into our lives with the intent of creating more joy.

Week One’s focus is on Nothing.  That’s right – nothing.  As in Nothing Doing.  Or, better said, doing nothing.  The first step to creating a more joyful life is to do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes a day.   Start by being inaccessible to everyone except yourself.  Step away from every electronic, human or animal distraction.  Then, sit still.

If that seems utterly inconceivable, you can move, but move in a repetitive way.  Jog, swim, use a stationary bike…but don’t read or watch t.v. while doing so.

If you need something to look at, stare at a fireplace, or the waves at the beach.  Something with natural movement.

Then, notice all the thoughts that go flying through your mind.  Don’t get all judgy about having them; just watch and keep breathing.  Creating space between our thoughts and action will help create an underlying calm that allows you to hear the whisper…yup, I’m gettin’ a bit woo woo here…of your soul.  And people, when we finally give our souls some room to breathe, fabulous things happen.  Slowly at first, but more steadily as we practice Nothing Doing.

As for me,  I’ve struggled a bit with this one.  Sitting still, with no distractions, takes some getting used to.  Since 15 minutes felt like an eternity, I thought I’d break this one down into smaller chunks and started with 5 minutes at a time.  I set the microwave’s timer, sat on the sofa, and noticed my foot wiggling, thought of all the things I wasn’t getting done, and got mad at myself for not doing it right.

I’m getting better, though. I can now sit for 10 minutes, and sometimes I even feel sad when the timer goes off.  This Nothing Doing ritual is a work in progress, just like me.

Are you into Nothing Doing?  How’s it working for you?


  1. Chrisina Brandt says:

    Book group met tonight, and they posed a good question: is the objective to not think at all while being still?

    Nope. Just decide not to attach any attention to the thoughts that go by. Your brain creates thoughts. You get to decide whether to pay attention.

  2. Gilda says:

    Doing nothing is harder than it sounds. The morning following our meeting I awoke commited to doing nothing before jumping out of bed to begin my day. It worked, I don’t know how long it lasted but when my mind started monkeying around I focused on my breathing which helped me stay put longer.

  3. Chrisina Brandt says:

    Hi Gilda. I’m glad you’ve found some time for Nothing Doing, and that you’re remembering to return to your breathing when your thoughts start leaping around. Keep going!

  4. Mary says:

    Thankful for a beautiful spring day to take advantage of Doing Nothing by looking outside and appreciating nature.

  5. Amanda says:

    Doing “NOTHING”? I wouldn’t say there’s nothing to it. OK, so there I was rocking away in my sun room staring out into the magnificence of spring. “Focus on the trees waving in the wind,” said that inner voice. Check. No, really I did. And it worked for a few minutes. Switched to the flowering lilac. A few more minutes under my belt. I’m starting to get the hang of this… then my husband walked in the back door and said, “what are you doing?” “Nothing, honey, nothing.” Then the phone rang.

  6. Chrisina Brandt says:

    Looking at nature, and the subtle movements like the way trees move with a breeze, is a perfect way to do nothing! Sounds like it’s working well for you, Mary and Amanda. Keep going, and notice your reactions to things like phones ringing. After a while, you might not want to get up and answer.

  7. Chrisina Brandt says:

    Anybody trying music while NothingDoing? I just did, and found it distracting. Just curious to see what’s working for others.

  8. Valerie says:

    What a gorgeous and joyful day! I am experimenting with doing nothing and finding that it is hard. The parade of thoughts is running the 50 yard dash. I had 2 mornings at the kitchen table with silence at the beginning of my day. That seems to work well. I find that when I get into doing nothing my mind wanders to very specific places such as the Sierra Desert in Morroco where the sunsets and sunrises are magnificent. Another favorite vision is the Cornwall coast in England hiking with the whole family. For me, doing nothing seems to work well with nature scenes and family scenes. Still striving to reach the 15 minute mark. It is joyous. I have traveled to great places in my mind this week (low budget and high value).


  9. Chrisina Brandt says:

    Love the idea of visiting beautiful places in your mind, Val. Now, just feel the feelings of being there. And notice your breathing. Don’t worry about 15 minutes. Just keep trying different things to see what feels the best. Mornings, evenings, music, no music, nature, indoors…it’s all good.

    As for me, I tried nothing doing on an aircraft during turbulence today! I just watched the thoughts about being scared go by, and just kept breathing deeper. Martha Beck taught me this on a flight from Salt Lake to Missoula once – when I was terrified of the small plane’s turbulence. She said that you can’t remain afraid when you’re breathing deeply and paying attention to your breaths. It helped a lot then, and it did today, too, even though my “monkey mind” wanted to keep coming back to fear.

  10. Amanda says:

    Music transports me! It actually helps me to focus. By the way, doing nothing on the Cape is working. Must be all that salt air…

  11. Chrisina Brandt says:

    I’m Nothing-Doing in Phoenix, AZ today! By a pool, on a very windy day. Glad to hear that music’s working for you, Amanda. I’m listening to waterfalls by the pool – will let you know whether it works for me or not.

  12. Valerie says:

    I love “doing nothing” sessions early in the morning. I am surprised by this because I generally want to get into my schedule in the morning. A few minutes of treasuring the beauty of morning and silence is the perfect way to start the day.

  13. Valerie says:

    I am finding that by the end of the day my head is spinning with ideas and finishing up the day’s efforts. I have found that the best way for me to “do Nothing” at the end of the day is to apply soft focus with a favorite painting–I adore art- or with a lovely plant in my living room. Thanks for teaching us this valuable approach.

  14. Gilda says:

    I set my timer for 17 minutes (2 minutes to get in position) and I drifted away…until I heard a pigeon on my terrace ten minutes in! So 10 minutes in total…a good start and I would have done the whole 15 minutes had it not been for that darn pigeon!

  15. Chrisina Brandt says:

    LOVE the idea of staring at art, Val. Gilda, maybe the pigeon was sending you a message, although I can’t think of what it could be!

  16. Mary says:

    hi joyous gals. Forgot to check the blog this week. love your comments. See you all momentarily. can I count driving as doing nothing? 🙂

  17. Christina Brandt says:

    I hope you’ll concentrate and NOT go into a state of Nothing Doing, despite the fact that Martha includes it in her list of repetitive activities! See you soon.

  18. Valerie says:

    I read the chapter about truth a second time. The re-reading seems to stir more clarity about my truths. I have 10 written down so far. Can one have too many truths? Many of my truths create the urge to define a specific action that will help me bring more joy to a truth.

    p.s. I am finding it even harder to “nothing doing” on a regular basis. I guess this is really what I need most. So I am scheduling it each day.

  19. Valerie says:

    Also, Chris, you mentioned last week that identifying our truths will bring us closer to our authenic selves. I like this mission. Thanks, Gilda, for reinforcing Chris’ statement as we talked after the meeting last week.

  20. Mary says:

    It has been interesting listening to my “voices”. I have always had an active inner self, but since starting the book, my inner conversations have been on high speed. Dare I say split personality. I seem to question everything I am thinking. Yes, it could be the realization I am nuts, but I am putting the spin that I am taking the time to really be thoughtful about my thoughts to reach, yes, joyous results.

  21. Mary says:

    Hi everyone. Hoping you all had a great weekend. Truth is, i am having trouble focusing in on truth. So, I started a tablet and am writing my truths…..yikes….one thing just keeps leading to the next. I started writing need to do this, need to do that, then it evolved into love and adore this person and of course my dog….. and am now it has morfed into…Wish I were and Wish I stopped and Wish I knew…..
    So there you have it. Not sure what to do with all of these truthful thoughts but it is good to see it in writing.
    and……….have a joyous week!

  22. Mary says:

    Will be missing you all tonight. Can’t wait to hear what each of you have uncovered to have more joy in your life because of the Joy Diet Book for the past few weeks. BTW, I have had lots of truths surface. None earth shattering, merely nice realities that make me very happy. Still have not conquered the doing nothing exercise….but I sure acknowledge my un-planned down time as an opportunity to sit quietly and enjoy my thoughts.

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