Il Dolce Far Niente - The Sweetness Of Doing Nothing
Il Bel Paese, La dolce vita, Il dolce far niente...
You don’t speak Italian? Don’t worry because you can understand these three Italian expressions without opening the dictionary. All you have to do is to use your imagination. But before you close your eyes here are 3 hypothetical situations that will help you to understand what “the sweetness of doing nothing” really means and how Italians cultivate it.
1. Imagine you’re on your summer vacation in Italy, sitting in a little coffee shop situated in one of the gorgeous Italian coastal towns indulging in creamy cappuccino and delicious croissant. The weather is stunning. If you were in Milan you would probably get uncomfortably hot but you’re on the Italian coast where a fresh wind blows in from the sea and makes your experience even more enjoyable and pleasurable.
You’re not a coffee lover? That’s ok let’s try something else!
2.Imagine you’ve just arrived in a gorgeous medieval village in Tuscany to spend your long weekend in the land of wine, nature, and spirituality. Hidden from the outside world in the Tuscan heartland you can enjoy excellent Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine-Style Steak) with a glass of fine red Chianti. A relaxed atmosphere of this charming place and the breathtaking landscape make you rub your eyes in amazement. It’s so incredibly beautiful that it seems almost unreal.
You don’t drink wine? That’s ok. Let’s try something else!
3.It’s spring in the ancient city of Rome. You’re on your walking trip from the Pantheon to The Colosseum eating stracciatella gelato. Suddenly you stop and say to yourself: I’m glad I didn’t hire a car because exploring the capital of Italy on foot it’s like entering a magical world where every spot is a mythical, postcard-perfect and inspiring piece of Eternal city history.
Did you like what you saw in your mind’s eye?
A relaxed atmosphere of a charming place with a breathtaking landscape can easily make you rub your eyes in amazement. But did you really felt what Il Bel Paese, La dolce vita, Il dolce far niente (A wonderful life in a beautiful country pleasantly doing “nothing”) really means? Have you been enjoying yourself during your imaginary trip to Italy?
The Art Of Enjoying Yourself
Wonderful life in a beautiful country pleasantly doing “nothing” written in quotes because this Italian concept has nothing to do with procrastination. “Il dolce far niente” – translated into “the sweetness of doing nothing” means celebrating the beauty of life, enjoying the authenticity of the moment, indulging yourself in some pleasant relaxation without feeling guilty, selfish or worried.
This alluring Italian concept of enjoying yourself it’s not some fancy expression to describe procrastination or a strange way to talk about burnout or exhaustion. Because if you fall asleep unexpectedly after another day of hard work would you call it “enjoying yourself”? Or would you call “enjoying little pleasures” this moment when you grab your 5th coffee of the day and you drink it as quickly as possible hoping that it will help you survive till the evening?
“Il dolce far niente” it’s a real pleasure, not simple entertainment.
“Il dolce far niente” it’s a mindful choice not mindless habit.
“Il dolce far niente” is this moment when time stops giving you the opportunity to indulge in the authentic beauty of the presentmoment, positive experience and real joy.
Cultivating “il dolce far niente” means that you purposefully engage yourself in some pleasurable and enjoyable activity to celebrate your life.
Life is filled with simple pleasures, wonderful moments that we fail to notice because we’re too busy to actually enjoy them…
Disconnect From The Busy World
We’re living in a busy world constantly trying to balance our hectic life without realizing that increased working time and reduced sleeping hours won’t help us to achieve that. Life is not an endless to-do list of things to do and appointments to make. Being busy doesn’t mean being productive. And taking a break during a hectic day doesn’t mean that you’re procrastinating. Actually, the little time taken off from work or study is not only rational but also crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing. Just tell me:
When was the last time you were eating out with your friends and the conversation was not about work?
What are those small pleasures in life that you don’t have time for?
When was the last time you took a day off and actually enjoyed it without constantly thinking about the job?
If your answer is “I don’t remember” don’t feel guilty about it. I completely understand you. Furthermore, up until a few months ago, I would give the same answer. Now, I know that there is no such thing as “constant motivation”, being busy doesn’t mean being productive and sacrificing relaxation in order to make things done faster leads to exhaustion and burnout.
But hey, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, making to-do lists or making plans – unless they begin to define you or worse they make you feel bad about yourself only because you weren’t able to make something done in time.
I am a goal-driven person who loves making plans, setting goals, making to-do lists and of course sticking Post-its everywhere. And the moment when I can tick off items on my list, meet the deadline and achieve a goal makes me incredibly happy and proud of myself. But I also love enjoying myself, embracing small pleasures, drinking coffee, eating gelato and relaxing in the fresh air, surrounded by Nature. It’s my way of balancing my hectic life and taking care of my mental and physical health. It’s my way of cultivating “il dolce far niente”.
Il Dolce Far Niente As A Mindful Relaxation
Constantly dissociated from the present moment but fully convinced that it’s not true we try to keep up this incredibly exaggerated speed of life, a completely inhumane one. That’s why when we have a chance to just stop for a second and look at our life from another perspective we feel confused and completely burned out. Our addiction to faster living contributes to the state of being overworked, overtired, overwhelmed and constantly stressed out. And what’s the point? Seriously, what is the real point of living this way? It’s an unlived life. It’s an irreversibly lost opportunity which we won’t get again. Just ask yourself a simple question. Have you ever been so exhausted that you couldn’t fall asleep? Have you ever been too tired to be able to relax? I bet you have, more than once.
Cultivating “Il dolce far niente” means relaxing on purpose, enjoying yourself and indulging in real pleasure. It’s about you and all these small things in life that make you incredibly happy, fulfilled and excited. Yeah, I know what you think. You wish it could be that simple… But in fact, it is simple. All you have to is to take these couple of minutes every single day, choose the activity that makes you happy and enjoy your life. Whether it’s a bowl of pasta, your favorite coffee drink, mindful meditation, Netflix or just walking around do it! But do it mindfully on purpose. Focus on the experience. Use your 6 senses and let yourself truly enjoy this moment. Life is meant to be lived, enjoyed and celebrated. Embrace the imperfection of the moment and enjoy small pleasures that give your life purpose and fulfilment. Just indulge in the sweetness of doing nothing
How To Cultivate Il Dolce Far Niente
Be Mindful, Not Mindless
Disconnect from the virtual world and connect to the real one
Use your 6 senses and get inspired
Relax on purpose
Embrace the small pleasures life gives you
and cultivate “Il dolce far niente”