Opinions differ when it comes to DOLCE FAR NIENTE or sweet idleness. For some it is the root of all bad and for others it is the exact opposite.
“Nothing is more intolerable than idleness.” – Charles Darwin
“Immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous” – Bertrand Russel
As with most things, it’s most likely all about balance. However, I believe that sweet idleness is terribly underestimated and that many people today no longer know what it actually means and how it can work for them and actually make their life so much more pleasant.
We are so used to always being in action, always active and above all productive. Unfortunately, we often forget to take care of ourselves while being caught up in our productivity. We forget to recognise and appreciate the beautiful things around us, the simple things. We often take everything and everyone for granted or simply don’t even bother to notice these anymore – even the people around us, especially the ones we love.
So what does DOLCE FAR NIENTE actually mean? As always, it certainly means something different for everyone. For me it is the perception of myself especially my inner self. But it also means simply pausing, reflecting. For me it also means to lie down on a meadow and watch the clouds pass by, letting my imagination go wild with the things I see in those beautiful clouds. It means jumping into a puddle, without meaning or purpose but simply because it gives me joy. It means taking care of myself, listening to my body and my soul and to what they need. I love watching the flames in a fire or the waves on the shore of the sea and letting my mind wander.
DOLCE FAR NIENTE does not mean being lazy. Nowadays it can mean turning off your mobile phone for a few hours (I know, absolutely unimaginable for many). Most of us only realise how dependant we are on our phones when we cannot find it or when the battery is about to die on us with no charger in sight. The stress level rises tremendously within seconds.
For me, it also means taking time for myself my thoughts and even more, my emotions and feelings. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because people like to avoid thinking and feeling these essentials and very much prefer distract themselves with other things, mostly under the guise of productivity.
Sweet idleness doesn’t sound desirable at first, but when you let the beautiful Italian words DOLCE FAR NIENTE melt on your tongue, it somehow immediately takes on a different quality.
“Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.” – Soren Kierkegaard.
We are so driven by our education, our upbringing, our social environment to be productive that we have a bad conscience when we are not.
To learn about DOLCE FAR NIENTE I just have to watch my cats. In my eyes cats have perfected sweet idleness. They lie down and sleep when and where they want to, they play when they want to, they hunt when they want to and they eat when they want to (ok, that one only works when I, the can opener, functions properly or when they have hunted something). I think you know where I am getting at. Of course we do not have the luxury cats have but we can definitely learn a lot from them. When they are unhappy with something they will show you and when they are happy and content they will to. They do what is good for them.
I know that for most people DOLCE FAR NIENTE is a very challenging idea. So how about starting small. Take your mobile phone and set it into flight mode (see, you don’t even have to turn it off completely) and now go outside for at least 30 minutes (yes, WITHOUT your phone) and enjoy everything around you, notice your environment without any distraction. Or if you don’t feel like going outside you could try meditation, it is easier than you think. What I often observe when people eat is that they are distracted with all kinds of things and hardly notice their food and don’t enjoy it to the full. Maybe next time you eat, just focus on what’s on your plate. But I am sure that if you want to give the idea of DOLCE FAR NIENTE a try, you will find a way that suits you.
For me DOLCE FAR NIENTE it is not necessarily doing nothing, but doing something that reduces our everyday stress, something that you simply love to do like taking long walks, meditating, consciously preparing and devouring a delicious meal, playing just for fun, the list is endless…
So don’t let yourself be shamed by others when you give in to DOLCE FAR NIENTE once in a while. You may be amazed to find qualities in yourself you may have lost or that your now newly discover – be proud of yourself!
I would love to hear what DOLCE FAR NIENTE means to you. In the meantime I wish you an amazing weekend.
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