Yesterday I watched Eat. Pray. Love for the second time and, as with most movies, I found that I got something completely different out of watching it this time then I did the first time. This time around one line really struck me, “Dolce Far Niente” which means “the sweetness of doing nothing”.
As a Canadian, this concept can be a little bit jarring. When do we ever actually sit down and ENJOY doing nothing? We know that our lives revolve around our jobs; whatever that job may be – doctor, lawyer, writer, housewife, or teacher—our social life revolves around the work that we have to do. It’s almost as if we feel like we have to work like a donkey to deserve half an hour or even ten minutes of doing nothing. It’s always “after I finish this essay, I’ll watch a movie” or “after this load of laundry, I’ll sit down for a bit”. But even when we allow ourselves to sit down and take a break from working too hard – because let’s face it, we all work too hard – we sit down and are unable to sit still. We get bored of watching T.V all day, we get antsy and annoyed of sleeping, and we would almost rather be at work then doing nothing at home.
And so I wonder, why is it so difficult for us to find the sweetness in doing nothing? Is it burned in our brains that unless we are doing SOMETHING we are just wasting the free time that we are entitled too? Why can’t we just enjoy reading a good book, or watching T.V, or sitting around the breakfast nook having a coffee with our mom—you don’t even have to talk, in fact one of you could be playing Sudoku and the other could be writing, but just enjoying that silence together, enjoying that moment in which the world has finally stopped moving. That is the sweetness of doing nothing.
I find that no matter where I am, I am always thinking about something—even when I’m watching a movie with someone I love, I can’t stop my brain from thinking. It’s like our thoughts keep us from enjoying ‘doing nothing’. Even if I can quiet my mind for a few moments, I find that sooner or later I begin to think about what I have to do at work the next day, or what I want to write about, or my finances, or my book, or something my mother said to me, or the fact that I need to clean my bathroom, or get gas—it’s always something. It’s like we all have a To-Do list running through our brain, every moment of every day – how can we possibly enjoy ANY moment if we are busy running through list after list of things we have to do?
I think we all need to make a conscious effort to – as Richard from Texas in Eat. Pray. Love suggests – “ select our thoughts the same way we select our clothes every day”. We need to train our minds to only think about one thing at a time, to choose positive thoughts, to select each thought we have so that we don’t burn our brains out. This is probably the most intimidating concept that I have ever heard. If I knew how to control and select my thoughts, I wouldn’t be so easily distracted, I would be able to enjoy every moment, I would be able to only think of something that is necessary in the moment I am living. I would be able to live in the present instead of reminiscing about the past or planning every moment of my future.
I understand that the key to happiness is found in a balanced life but the only way to have a balanced life is to balance our thoughts. Maybe then we would be able to live in the moment, we would be able to find the sweetness in doing nothing. So I urge you all to try it. When your mind goes off in a million different directions, select a thought that will help you in that moment. When you’re sitting around doing nothing, by yourself or with your family and you feel that your mind is beginning to wander, stop it.
Dolce Far Niente can only be enjoyed when you let it take you over,
when you let your mind be still.
when you let your mind be still.
I forget what it feels like to truly savor a moment in which I’m doing nothing,
I invite you to enjoy this sweetness with me sometime- the coffee’s on me 🙂