There’s as much risk in doing nothing as in doing something.

Trammell Crow
Discovering the Laws of Life
What is the risk in doing nothing? Perhaps it’s not exciting but isn’t it safe and harmless? But is water or air that does nothing harmless? No, it becomes stagnant. It’s not part of any flow or current of movement. It not only contains no fresh, renewing activity, it’s the breeding ground for germs and disease. In the stagnant human being, the disease is often guilt and depression.

Why guilt? Certainly the choice to do nothing is your own business. But deep inside, every one of us knows we’re meant to be active, and we know in what directions that activity should be aimed. Life shows us, day by day. You’d have to live in an isolation chamber to be unaware of opportunities for doing. Instinctively you know that doing nothing is resisting and avoiding the natural flow of life, because it’s not the nature or design of the human being to be inert. You have too much power, too much energy in mind, body and spirit for that to be true. Unused, those gifts are wasted. So if you do nothing, never start, never step forth, never try, it’s not going to be easy to remain at peace with yourself for very long.

A life without activity becomes sluggish and dull. A mind never fed with new ideas or experiences becomes stale and apathetic. There is no personal growth or change. And the more you do nothing, the more you are caught in inertia, the lack of inclination to motion, exertion or change. The longer you do nothing, the more you procrastinate, and the harder it is to talk yourself into doing anything positive and worth while. And the greater grows your fear of doing something, of departing from the dull but safe status quo. You become increasingly afraid of the unknown, afraid of the world, afraid of yourself.

This does not mean the kind of “doing nothing” you often experience at the end of a busy day or week. It’s important to give the mind and body time to rest and relax. It’s neither necessary nor wise to be constantly doing something. And some people who don’t appear to be doing much outwardly are actively engaged in their minds, considering, exploring, weighing, planning. “Doing nothing” here refers to never getting started.

What is the risk in doing something? You might not do it well. You might not like it. You might be wrong; it might not work. It might turn out to be a useless idea or effort. You might look foolish. You might waste time, energy, money. You might fail. (Fear of failure is a paralysis!)

Even if these things happen, you’re sure to learn something from what you did. You might see a better way to do it from having tried what didn’t work. Everything you do helps you to do it better the next time. Or you may learn that this just isn’t for you, but now that it’s done, you can see what you really do want to do. You might find courage and determination you didn’t know you had. You might discover a new interest, a skill, or a new friend just from having been involved and exposed to something different.

Even if you try and fail, you will generate energies in the process that can create a new perspective for you, give you a new way of seeing things. Your experience gives you new knowledge and wisdom, and that is never wasted. Once you’ve experienced something new, regardless of the result, it’s impossible to ever again see life exactly the same way, for a new dimension has been added to your vision, your mind, your feelings, your body. If you take piano lessons, your understanding and appreciation of music will forever be enhanced, even if ultimately you decide it’s not for you and quit. Once you’ve climbed a mountain, even if you didn’t enjoy it, you’ll never forget the view.

And, you know?… you just might succeed. Even if you’re nervous or afraid, go ahead and do the thing and see what happens. Say to your fear: “Yes, I know you. But I’m going to do it anyway.” You’ve started down the road, and your momentum will gather. “Life sends thread for the web begun.” So start with your present idea and do something. More ideas will meet you on your way, and you will find yourself living fully alive!