Tips on how to prosper while doing absolutely nothing?

I haven’t worked since August. I quit that job, just went home and never came back.

I know that if I take another job, I will have income, and income pays bills, and I need to pay bills to not be homeless and starve. But I also know that I eventually implode, to the detriment of my company and my coworkers and myself, just like I did the last several jobs I had. Eventually I will reach the point where going home and just not going back to work again won’t seem so unreasonable.

I hate work. I hate throwing away 40 hours a week (not counting the overhead of getting there) doing shit I don’t care about, just so I can feed and shelter myself, so I can live long enough to repeat the same cycle basically every week for the rest of my life. Everyone just seems to be cool with it. What is my problem?

Truth be told if I didn’t have a family who cared about me, and if I had never experienced the devastation of my best friend dying, I would probably just kill myself. I think the grief of my friend dying is the primary reason why I haven’t eaten a bullet already; I just imagine my mom getting that phone call and how she would lose her shit. So I keep torturing myself.

My ideal life would be not having to do anything. I want my own place, I want to eat for free, I want to wake up and go to bed when I feel like it, and play video games all day. But I can’t. Not that I should be able to, because someone has to foot the bill. I don’t feel entitled to that, but in lieu of that, I feel like I should just opt out of life. So I literally don’t know what my options are except to kill myself, or to just keep living a life of misery. Any ideas?


Hey Liam,

I can’t say I am in the exact situation as yourself, but I’ve been in a very dark place for months, wondering what is the point of working and surviving at all.

In my case, I was diagnosed with a severe depression. Talking to a psychiatrist weekly helped a lot, as the anti-depressants.

My advice to you is to get professional help, I’ll try to help you in any way I can, but only a trained counselor/psychiatrist will be able to better treat and understand the root of your problems.

I just want to ask you to not give up, even when things are sour. Seriously, I never imagined that my life would look as good as it now three months back. It’s not perfect by any means, but being alive is wonderful. So, start therapy and focus on yourself.

Your problem is not as uncommon as you think it is. I always say that for the past 4 years, work was a beast, it consumed me to a point where I had nothing left. It’s a love/hate relationship, but the truth is that the problem was not the work itself.

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Not a counter-voice to Ruben’s great tips, but other things worth doing too: finding meaning is important. Some of the best tools I have found on that way:

  • surrounding myself with people I thorougly enjoy, learn from and aspire to adopt practices, goals and ambitions of
  • David Deida’s book “The Way of the Superior Man” (which may sound elitist, but thoroughly isn’t about that)
  • give yourself plenty of love, and your needs met, as best you can

I linked the audiobook form which you can get for free from Audible with a cancelable trial membership. Just listening to that and adopting perspectives about what a long view on my life would be, in finding and doing stuff I actually care about, has helped me, even if I so far have chosen to keep my day job and make gentler change in the direction of something I want to spend the rest of my life on, and whatever that might end up being.

The third point may be the hardest, but probably most important to act on first, as throwing your needs to the wind is the inclined plane towards collapse. If you can muster getting yourself to a Human Awareness Institute workshop on love, intimacy and sexuality, I wholeheartedly recommend that (they offer scholarships for the first workshop, if the money situation has already gone bad, too), as it will surround you with love, compassion, warmth and touch for two and a half consecutive days, as well as wise people having been through all sorts of random life things, in a really safe and supportive environment, while having your needs taken care of much without your own being on top of it.

Liam, thanks for being so honest here. I’m not going through what you’re experiencing at the moment, but I definitely identify with some of what you’re expressing. I don’t know you so it’s hard to give any direct advice. I did end up thinking one question when I read your story: “I wonder what he would be willing to try?” What kinds of things would you be willing to work with, to see if they helped?

I’m a therapist (+software developer) so of course I’m going to suggest that you find someone in the area and start seeing them. In some ways it’s strange, but I can tell you from first hand experience that establishing an honest, real connection – with someone that can hear you out completely – makes a world of difference. Our brains are built for human connection, even though it can be hard to establish at times.

Experiencing the death of your best friend had to be a huge blow. For a lot of people, being exposed to what can feel like the senselessness of life and death gives them similar feelings. I don’t know what the sequence of events was, but I wonder if you’d be willing to work through that as well.

You are not likely to believe what I’m about to say, but times of true despair can often be powerful turning points in our lives to really understand what we believe, what our life will really be about, and start truly living it.

So you’re a software developer and a psychotherapist. That’s intriguing.

I was seeing a therapist while I was still working. I just didn’t feel like I was getting my money’s worth. When insurance eats the cost, I guess it’s OK, at worst you’re just losing your free time. But paying $100 of money that I earned to talk to someone for an hour…All I can say is I wish I had that money back; I need it now.

I didn’t feel like I got anything out of those sessions. I promised myself I would do at least five sessions. They were spaced more or less a week apart. I think I stopped going after the sixth. During the last session, I felt like the therapist had wasted my time basically asking me questions from a questionnaire without actually having anything concrete to say about the problem I presented. I literally paid $100 for a “to be continued”, and I was done after that.

His approach to therapy seemed to be based on the same concepts found in the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, which I was advised to read. I read it, and thought it was largely nonsense. (Ironically, there were excerpts from Freud in that book that I felt were in line with how I actually see things.) My previous therapist suggested that my tourrettic tics might be ameliorated by increased vitamin D intake, but I can say that adding a multivitamin with 375% my DV of vitamin D has not improved my tics at all.

I’ve seen other psychologists in the past. I have only found it frustrating. I feel like they get their analyses way wrong, I feel like I don’t agree with what they suggest. Moreover I feel like they contradict what I’m trying to convey or shove their own ideas down my throat.

I’ve been in a psych ward before for suicidal ideation, that place was a joke as well, and I felt more depressed while I was in there than I did going in. I know better than to do that again.

I’ve tried psychiatric drugs. They work in limited capacity and come with a bevy of side effects. In my experience psychiatric drugs improve some facets of life at the expense of others. Stimulants are great for focus, but it destroys my appetite, makes me more reckless, and makes it hard to sleep. Antipsychotics gave me tongue spasms (?) and made me fat without any change to my diet. Antidepressants made my dick not work and made it hard to sleep. How can these drugs improve the quality of my life when they come at such costs?

I’ve been down a lot of avenues trying to improve my mental state. I don’t even have anything to try now but the same things, and hope they work out better for me this time.

I’m running out of money because I haven’t worked for six months. More notably, I have not really looked for a job in six months. I have glanced at them, but who would even hire me? My professional background are the companies I serial-bailed on and now I have no work to show after three years. Moreover, my transient depression in conjunction with inattentive ADHD can severely affect the quality of my work.

Are the extant paradigms like CBT and psychiatric drugs my only options?

That would be great.

You wouldn’t be running out of money if you didn’t quit your job. Like you told me too. Those therapy sessions are good.


So sorry to hear what you are going through.

Do you still love software development or are you feed up with your career?

If that’s the case I would suggest to read Dan Miller’s book or listen to his podcast (48 days Podcast). One of his books I really enjoyed is “No more dread Mondays”, specially helpful for those Sunday blues knowing you have to back to work and do the same boring thing for the rest of the week.

Are you currently living with your family? how’s your relationship with your mom? Have you talked about your current situation with someone your trust?

You need to take little steps first… what are you currently doing to have an income?

If the perspective of finding another job doesn’t entice you, have you considered working by yourself and helping small businesses so you can pick and choose projects you like, having your own schedule and doing the work from home?

Take care, keep us posted.


I don’t think I am.

Yes. Great. No.

Selling all of my material possessions.

This sounds OK, but I don’t really know where to look.

Working from home sounds like a bad idea because of my ADHD… If left on my own I will just find something more interesting to do than work. Even if I isolate myself from distractions, I’ll find a way to distract myself if I’m not interested in what I’m doing. The distraction could be doodling or even just daydreaming. It could be writing code that is not related to the task at hand.

This is true even when medicated. In fact lately the stimulant meds have become less effective than I remember them being. I’m not focused anymore; I’m energized, but scatterbrained. It’s like it transforms me from inattentive to hyperactive and impulsive. This was never the case until recently.


Everything that has been suggested are good tips, specially reading or listening to motivational podcasts. I would also add talking to someone your trust (a family member or a good friend you trust).

In the past I had a friend that was in difficult situation, he never talked about having suicidal episodes but when I was talking with him over the phone I sensed a lot of despair in his voice.

After a while, I finally convinced him to look for another job (he was not happy at all where he was working), he moved to my company and things got a lot better for him. He eventually moved to another company (a better opportunity with better pay) and we still keep in touch.

Sometimes I have gone through episodes where I wish I could be doing something different, and just being able to talk to someone about it helps me to calm me down and keep going in life.

I would also add daily exercise, it could be something as simple as jogging. I like biking and have a stationary bike at home that allows to do my daily routine even in cases where there’s a nasty weather.

For some time I had a gym membership and used to participate in group sessions, I found them enjoyable because you had the motivation from the trainer and he always had something positive (I used to workout early mornings at 5:30 am) for the beginning of the day.

Now, in regards what you said about working from home.

I still think that becoming a freelancer is your best option for now, there are plenty of small jobs / tasks you can find out there on sites like craigslist. I am pretty sure just the idea of talking to somebody you don’t know can become a huge task when you are depressed, but keeping yourself isolated is the worst thing you can do.

You can also try a local meetup group, there should be plenty where you live. It doesn’t have to be about software development, in can be about any hobby you like.

I hope these tips help you, and don’t forget to keep in touch.

Take care,


With all due respect, these suggestions are largely useless to me.

General anxiety and social anxiety are huge barriers to doing most of these things. I have considered jogging but the idea of running down public sidewalks makes me highly uncomfortable. Part of the reason for that is because I’ll probably be able to make it a whole block before I’m winded. The only place I can see myself exercising comfortably is in the privacy of my own home. This requires equipment like treadmills that I don’t possess and frankly have no space or money for. A gym puts me in a similar situation where I’m surrounded by strangers.

I hate being around people. I’m not like them, I don’t think like they do, my interactions are awkward and contrived, and it only tires me out and frustrates me. Additionally, the anxieties of past interactions with people are the sole triggers of tourretic tics for me, which have only become more abundant and more intense as I age. It is a compounding issue because expressing these tics in public is embarrassing and actually exacerbates them.

I’ve tried this to some extent. I used to be a car enthusiast and meet with a local group but they were highly critical of my car, which sucked all of the joy out of me, so I stopped going to meetups (and sold my car). Again, people suck. I’ve come to resent people in general. They are superficial, artificial creatures who smile to your face and criticize you the second your back is turned.

My only passion lately is aquariums, as it’s one of the few fascinations I can have while staying inside of the house. There is no group for aquarists in my area. “Make one” except a) anxiety b) what can aquarists do as a group? It’s not like we can all bring our aquariums to the meetups.

With the exception of the recommended podcasts/books, none of these ideas are things that I hadn’t previously considered.

Thanks for trying to help. I guess I’ll have to find my own way out of this.

You know what fuck it, I’m going to…do something. I have to do something. I was in a pretty bad mood when I originally replied. Which is one of the reasons why things can be so difficult, I make decisions in good mood that I regret when I’m in a bad mood, and vice versa.

Exercise is one of the few things I haven’t tried. I live a sedentary lifestyle and it probably makes sense to exercise for the sake of my physical health. For the record, I’m not overweight by any means but I’m horribly out of shape. I have no idea how much cardiovascular exercise might ameliorate my mood disorders.

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That’s a good start, and by the way, I understand how difficult things can be when you suffer from social anxiety. I myself have to deal with it.

Unfortunately we don’t have other option that confront the obstacles no matter how difficult they seem.

Take care and keep us posted.


Fresh air alone can do amazing things when you are on a bit of a downer.

Can I suggest starting out small? Just go for a walk. If you don’t want to interact with people just yet, chuck on a hoodie as they are a pretty good “don’t talk to me” signal. Then once you can get started think about something more intense like jogging or cycling.

Soon as the sidewalks aren’t covered in a foot of snow and temperatures aren’t frostbite-inducing, sure.

I contacted someone who runs an online fish store about possibly improving his site. He didn’t respond for a while, but today he contacted me regarding the automation of some aspects of running his site. It looks like something I can easily do and somehow I’m excited to do it. Our phone conversation went well. I don’t think it’s going to pay a lot, but at least it’s a temporary source of income.

The problem I think I will have throughout my life is that my mood is not predictable or consistent, and my depression can be debilitating when it comes. It’s hard to make the right decisions about work or life when I’m thinking of ending my life. I think one-and-done freelance gigs are probably my best bet, as they allow me to make money when I’m relatively “sane” but also don’t require me to maintain that sanity for months at a time.

I can think of precisely one job that I didn’t quit while in a state of depression. A couple of them, I just stopped showing up. It’s like I alternate between two different people entirely, a hopeful and optimistic person, and someone who is all together suicidal and is only kept alive by a fear of death and a fear of hurting his loved ones.

Maybe that’s bipolar disorder; I don’t know. If so, I guess I’m on the upswing for right now. What saddens me is that I know that I might do a 180 at any point in time. It could be tomorrow, next week, or six months, but I know myself well enough to know that it will happen. And similarly I can stay depressed for hours/days/weeks/months at a time, and not want to do anything.

I don’t know what employer will accommodate that. “Yeah I’m not going to be able to work. Indefinitely. But hold my spot and keep providing me benefits for whenever my mood improves.” Short-term contracts might be all I can do, if that.

This also makes the idea of living on my own difficult, because my employment situation will always fluctuate. I feel that I would actually benefit a lot from solitude, or at least more solitude than I presently have, but I don’t know how to comfortably attain it.

Maybe this upswing is attributable to the weather; the sun is out, and 45F feels like 70F coming from a very cold and very snowy winter. Either way, I can only ride it out until it’s gone, like a temporary high.

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Hey, hum…
I hate giving advices to people…

So I guess I have nothing to offer you but some kind words which I hope cheer you and motivate you to find a way to make life less painful (or at least painful enough to deal with).

I really hope things work out for you, man. I really do. Even though your posts are the product of a painful emotional state, I consider it great blogging material. I am doing a private journal myself which helps me dealing with my crazy thoughts, give it a chance if you want.

When I write I try to explain to a hypothetical person how I feel, but that works for ME personally, and shouldn’t necessarily work for you.

I enjoyed your honesty about your emotional situation, and your respectfulness of other people’s advices.

So, nice writing, and really, the best wishes for you man!

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This is true for a lot of people and because of the total bureaucratization of society we have to buy our freedom. We automate a lot and should be working 4-5 hours per day (if we so choose) and enjoying solitude but instead we’re struggling to just stay employed while the employment itself drives us crazy.


I’ve read the entire thread now, and I must say, I’m almost the exact same way as you @liam.
The biggest difference is that I’ve had a stable job with flexible working hours, so I’ve been able to delay most of my work when I’m not feeling great. Unfortunately, that company is struggling hard financially now, and I might end up getting laid off any day now. Not easy finding another job where that’s possible, so I can imagine how hard that must be.

I’ll repeat what’s been said, and can recommend getting started with some exercise. It has helped me a bit. And I know exactly what you mean about it being hard getting started. I’ve had dogs for some years, so going for a walk each day is a good way to start. Preferably with headphones and some music/podcast/audio book, and just walk for half an hour or so each day. After a while I had an energetic period, where I decided I should try running some more. Downloaded an “From the couch to 5K” training plan and followed it. I was very stubborn and forced myself to complete it, and it only got easier as I got further into the plan.

If at all possible, find a secluded road or a forest where you can walk/run without meeting many people. I always get very self-conscious if there is anyone nearby, no matter how well it’s going. Especially in the start, that’s almost a requirement.

Best wishes, man. Hang in there!

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Hi Liam.

This is my first post ever. I stumbled upon your thread when using the search term “is it ok to do nothing”. I want to reply so I opened an account. I only tell you all of this so you can appreciate this reply comes from a special place.

I have felt, and continue to feel from time to time exactly as you have described. I am bi polar. It has taken me 15 years to say that out loud. It is embarrassing-- not having control over the ups and downs. Sucks. After a lot of trial and error I have arrived at a medicine regime that helps. I’m taking 40mg of Prozac and 400mg of lemictal (200mg in the am and 200mg before bed; one dose a day got me sleepy). The Prozac helps from going too low, the lemictal too high. The highs always feel good but cause the lows to get worse since the highs build up your hopes and possibilities to unreal expectations. I think you indeed may have mild bi polar. I think you should try these two medicines. They have kept me alive and functioning for 15 years.

Likewise, exercise without excuse works. Do anything, anywhere to break a sweat for 15 minutes.

Finally, and the reason why I bumped into you today, embrace doing nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. And feel good about it. When I allow myself to embrace this incredible gift I always feel better. Doing nothing can be for 20 minutes or an entire weekend. This means no tv, no interaction, silence (and in my case researching whatever pops into my head on the Internet which is how I came to you just now). Doing nothing allows your body and mind to re synch with one another and allows you to tap into the energy of the universe in a powerful way. It literally nourishes your mind, body, and spirit. I think you already are aware of this since doing nothing is your safe place. Embrace it.

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Oh one last thing. Go save a small dog at the pound. I have a poodle. Their even temper brings balance into your everyday life. And you have something to live for.