When was the last time you drank your tea slowly and mindfully? Would you take a moment to gaze at the blue sky or feel the soft breeze caressing your skin? Have you heard the sound of rain drumming on the roof? Lately, have you savoured a moment of quiet and peace? A moment of doing nothing?
We are juggling home and office; we have bills to pay, ailing family members and children to tend to, endless errands to run, and looming deadlines to meet. But a little frivolity never killed anyone, did it?
William Henry Davies rightly pointed out, “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”
We are always on the run—hankering after something, chasing something, and doing something. We compulsively occupy ourselves to ward off nagging thoughts that overwhelm us as soon as we have nothing to do. Why are we so afraid to sit, relax, and just be!
Dolce far niente
Incidentally, Italians believe in the sweetness of doing nothing dolce far niente, as they say. I discovered this beautiful phrase while watching the film Eat Pray Love. The phrase struck me as beautiful and profound. Italians are accustomed to a more tranquil way of life, and they well understand the need to decompress from daily pressures. They revel in the moment—whether it is sipping wine with friends or simply listening to the sound of wind chimes or watching children play. They live in the moment and the ability to savour each moment can be life-transforming; it can add meaning to otherwise mundane days and drab lives.
Do not mistake dolce far niente for squandering time. Giving yourself permission to do nothing can help you through harried days and anxious nights. Simply staring out of the window can give you a moment of clarity, soothe frayed nerves, or even trigger great ideas and insights. And no, you are not idling time; you are simply uncovering the lurking joys and forgotten treasures of everyday living.
How to experience dolce far niente
Go to nature. It is okay to let yourself lie fallow sometimes. Watch the clouds drift by. Observe the changing hues of the sky. Enjoy the music of the natural world that surrounds you: Cuckoo’s cooing, cricket’s crooning, mynah’s humming, leaves rustling in the wind…
Sink into sensory experiences. Become aware of the taste, feel, scent, sight, and sound of everything that surrounds you. The taste of baked apples flavoured with butter and cinnamon, the velvety feel of a newly-opened hibiscus flower, the scent of mud after the rain, the sight of a seagull whirling in the sky, the chirping of sparrows perched on a windowsill... Take it all in.
•Take time to watch the moon play hide-and-seek with clouds.
•Make your walk as leisurely as possible. Take the scenic route home.
•Pause, sink into the beauty of the golden-orange sunset sky.
•Enjoy your latte without staring into your phone.
•Listen to the laughter of a child.
•Watch a butterfly landing on a flower.
•Stop and smell the roses.
•Make time to relish a cup of tea and a moment of quiet.
To quote John Lubbock, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
Make time to just be! A no-agenda moment can be relaxing, to say the least. Slow down. Disengage. Switch off. Unplug. Take off those earphones the next time you’re jogging; plug into the natural world instead.
There will always be something to do: umpteen emails staring you in the face, meetings to attend, tidying and laundering, reading to kids, fixing that leaking tap, unmet needs, demands, and crazy milestones to reach. However, don’t get so caught up in reaching your goals that you forget to enjoy the journey.
Cut yourself some slack!
Celebrate life right now! Allow yourself the sweetness of doing nothing. Drink in a moment of absolute bliss and contentment.
Get off that hamster wheel—practice the art of dolce far niente!
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