The Act of Doing Nothing: One Battlefield of Reason and Emotion

So often we feel called to action–to make statements, implement plans, or take measures. I would wager that more often than not we would be better off doing nothing at all. Delaying action in the hope that the urge to act will dissipate  is one prescription for anger management and likewise the antidote to all the troubles that come from indulging one’s negative or excessive emotions. Just do nothing and the situation might resolve itself—take action and a series of unfortunate events unravel. This holds true on all levels—from an individual to a national entity—but I am interested in the personal level. It would seem that inaction would require less fortitude than action, but that is a complete misconception because doing something is a short-term relief and an indulgence of insistent emotion, whereas not acting requires the prevalence of reason. What helps achieve unspoken words, unsent messages, untraversed space?  Intellectual honesty about the consequences of taking action and the self-serving nature of the proposed act.  Perhaps also a relinquishment of any sense of the importance of the thing at issue would help as well—most things are trivial. What if we took action only if we reasonably believed it would produce on balance a beneficial outcome. If we subjected our actions to that test how inactive we might become and how many meddlesome, officious, histrionic, time-wasting, rash and passionate words and deeds we would be spared and would spare ourselves from having to regret.

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