Wu Wei: The Opposite Of Busyness And Stress (+ How To Get Started)

Oscar Lagrosen
2 min readAug 18, 2022

In ancient China, Wu Wei was the highest virtue anyone could practice.

The term roughly translates to “actionless activity”, “go with the flow,” or simply doing nothing. You are alert and observe what happens around you.

A perfect antidote to the busyness and stress common in our modern society. You are not trying to get anything done or even engage in mindless compulsions. Just sitting there, enjoying yourself.

After all, this is what productivity leads to. When you do less, become more efficient, and get more impact, free time opens up. It is then easy to worry about wasting this precious time because you do not know what to do. Everything you are supposed to have already been taken care of.

But if you practice Wu Wei (doing nothing) and remain totally present, the free time is perfectly well spent. The right action will soon follow.

How to get started

Right now, I practice the following rule:

“When in doubt, Wu Wei.

In other words, whenever I find myself in an unplanned time and do not know what to do next, I sit and do nothing. Almost like meditation, but I’m not doing anything. Imagine turning a device to sleep mode.

After a couple of minutes, it becomes obvious what to do next. The clouds of doubt dissolve, and I almost do it without knowing it.

So whenever you are unsure of what to do, vacillating between different options, know that just being there is highly effective. Once you are comfortable with doing nothing, you don’t need to do something all the time compulsively.

Doing nothing will ensure the right action.

Oscar Lagrosen

Writes high quality tutorials about note-taking apps