How to Cultivate Dolce far Niente
I watched Eat, Pray, Love last week. I have read the book so many times, that I had to see the movie, twice. I didn’t make my husband suffer through it though. In fact, I had a lazy, rainy afternoon to myself to indulge in this little chick flick.
While the book was much better than the movie (aren’t they always), I was in one of those moods that I couldn’t help but enjoy living vicariously through a woman who traveled to Italy, India and Bali over the course of a year.
This post isn’t meant to be a review of the movie and I don’t think your life will change if you watch it or not, but one sentence in the movie spoke to me.
Dolce Far Niente
There is a scene in a barber shop in Italy when the characters are not doing much of anything and the American feels a little guilty because all she has done for three weeks is “learn a few Italian words and eat.” Her European, mostly Italian friends explain the lovely concept of Dolce Far Niente – the sweetness of doing nothing. Watch this clip from the movie to learn more about Dolce Far Niente. (It’s less than a minute)
How to Cultivate Dolce far Niente
Turn off your TV. Mindless TV watching robs you of your time, even your time to do nothing.
Drink wine with lunch. I don’t suggest this for everyone, or everyday, but once in awhile, a glass of wine with lunch will set the tone for a leisurely afternoon.
Sit Still. Find a chair, inside or out, and sit there. Gaze, daydream or just sit.
Sabbath. Really take a day off. Make the time for this important ritual.
Eat chocolate with these instructions from Vosges Chocolate:
- See… first, there should be a glossy shine to the chocolate bar, this shows a good temper; rather, a tight bond between the cocoa butter and the cocoa mass.
- Smell… rub your thumb on the chocolate to help release the aromas. Inhale the chocolate and ingredient notes deeply through your nose. Can you feel it?
- Snap… quality chocolate should always be dry to the touch. Break the bar into two pieces. Hear a crisp, ringing snap, which indicates a well-tempered bar of chocolate.
- Taste… place the chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Within thirty seconds, the chocolate should slowly begin to melt around your tongue. The taste should not be evanescent; it should have a long, lingering finish.
- Feel… recognize the life in your body as you… benefit from the anti-oxidants in chocolate, ride the natural high of chillies, boost your immune system with some of the natural ingredients. Each bar brings its own sensations and benefits. Notice how spicy bars don’t hit you until after you have swallowed.
Inspire your inner poet. Read beautiful poetry or Love Letters. Write something for or about someone you love.
Make dinner with your lover. Choose a simple recipe, turn on some music and collaborate in the kitchen.
Leave the dinner dishes. You don’t have to clean the kitchen the second you stop eating. Instead, move the party to your backyard or for a walk around the neighborhood. The dishes aren’t going anywhere.
Disconnect. Facebook, Twitter, and email are not Dolce far Niente or anything even close. If disconnecting is a problem for you, consider a digital sabattical.
We have to let go of the guilt for not planning, producing and consuming. While this may be cultural, I think people around the world experience the pressure to measure the success of their day by what they’ve accomplished. If that is the case for you, it’s time for a new measuring system. Instead of number of appointments you’ve made, rooms you’ve cleaned, miles driven or shopping accomplished, try measuring your day by the number of times you smiled about nothing, watched the grass grow, or measure success by how long it took you to linger over dinner.
Doing nothing is hard work, at first. Imagine how stressful the first few days of a vacation can be as you decompress, and let go of work, and real life. Your face is tense and you might have trouble breaking up with your email. Now imagine the last few days of a vacation. You can’t remember what had you stressed out, your eyes are light, your muscles are loose and you could lay in a hammock all day.
You don’t need a two week vacation to find your Dolce far Niente, but you have to practice. How will you find yours?
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