We humans, as all organisms, are shaped by our genes and environment. Purpose of an organism is to survive in an environment until it reproduces. Humans have evolved to the point where we have an option of doing nothing. But is it possible?
First the environment, I look at the world through lenses of Western culture and civilization even though I have travelled around the world and learned about other cultures. Culture is the main part of environmental filter for us and geographical location has only minor effect on an individual when you look at the holistic picture.
It was Max Webber who coined the term protestant work ethic over 100 years ago. This attitude has been one of the key factors in the success of Western culture in the past 500 years and in short it means living to work and devoting to god by working hard. This perspective has dominated thinking of work in Northern Europe, UK, Canada and USA until now, in might be in the decline in modern secular world but still effects on how we see the world and ourselves.
You always have this noise in the back of your head, saying that you need to do something and be efficient even when you are on a holiday. You are even procrastinating by doing something “useful and necessary” like cleaning. “Doing nothing is a waste of time and money!” Says the voice inside your head.
Second the biology, it is physically impossible to do nothing, even when you die your body starts to decompose immediately. Instead of always doing something, minimizing or avoiding physical work, or any action, to secure basic needs such shelter and nutrition is smart. All things in nature have this tendency. This leaves energy to fulfill highest echelons of Maslow´s hierarchy of needs pyramid. It´s the very thing I am doing when I wrote this and you are doing by reading this. Still we are doing something. It seems that doing nothing is another paradox of life since doing nothing would still be doing something.
Even when you are just concentrating in the moment, cleaning your mind from all thoughts, you are still hooked in the stream of existence. A fun fact is that you can´t even concentrate on the present since it takes some milliseconds for your brain to construct a picture from the information received by your senses or concentrating thoughts from the lightning storm of synapses. You are therefore condemned in always doing something.