The sweetness of doing nothing
Written by Lou
Often when you just enjoy doing nothing you have the most creative ideas and the best solutions to any problem.
But even without thinking of coming up with ideas or solutions and results, many Italians have daily moments of enjoying doing nothing, il dolce far niente.
Big city life
In big cities, I believe, these relaxing moments are hard to find. For example, in Amsterdam we’re always busy working, socializing, going to, planning or thinking about the next big event. After all, it seems a little sad to just ‘do nothing’.
And to be honest, this is a simmering feeling I’ve struggled with a lot: a type of FOMO based on hysterical social media pics showing people having the greatest of times at all times and the idea that I always have to do something useful.
Feeling pressured to do a lot of fun things next to working a lot already (during and after office hours – in my mind), I’ve stuffed my agenda for quite a while living here in Amsterdam. Not necessarily enjoying everything I did and kind of exhausting myself with so-called usefulness.
A lifestyle change
Then last year something new came into my life, an Italian named Luca, whose calm demeanor and relaxing lifestyle made me question my own values of hard work, usefulness and compulsive socializing. Slowly but steadily, I started to take more time for myself, to be creative again: paint and play the cello or to just do nothing: stare out of the window, cuddle with the cats, read a magazine or a book – just enjoying the moment.
I was under the spell of il dolce far niente, without yet knowing the actual phrase. Just being inspired by Luca and his friends & family, who seemed to be so light and at ease with just hanging out outside or on the couch.
Now, you could say that this interest in the sweetness of doing nothing got kind of out of hand when I quit two steady jobs in a time span of 6 months – deciding to chase il dolce far niente all the way back to Italy.
But I don’t think so. I think these Italians understand something crucially important to living a happy life.
How to do nothing?
Actually doing nothing is a pretty big challenge for me. Even without a job I end up working on this website quite a lot, even if it is with a fresh lightness, because I enjoy working on this community and because it’s not obligatory.
I try to immerse myself in doing nothing, mainly during meditation classes or in the bed before sleeping. Obviously, I am no Italian yet.
But there are a two books that do help me find more peace in doing nothing, even just during the day, when I could also be doing something useful. These books explain how to live a timeless life.
1. Momo by Michael Ende
This children’s novel has been my favourite book since I was 15. It’s about a little girl, Momo, whose mere presence and amazing listening capacities spread so much love that people forget about time and come up with the most creative solutions to any problem. She just enjoys herself listening to everyone, even the silence that appears to sing to her.
And then of course it doesn’t stay that way, because it’s still a book and there should be a plot. Momo ends up fighting men in grey suits who steal people’s time, telling them that they can save time by being as efficient as possible – never enjoying il dolce far niente anymore.
An absolute must-read if you enjoy this kind of thing!
2. The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This inspirational book is a little bit more of a challenge if you’re not yet interested in a more spiritual approach to life. It teaches you how to find your way out of psychological pain and to enjoy the Now with the silence and space around us as our guide to inner peace.
And inner peace is something you definitely need when you want to enjoy doing nothing.
The book seems to grab you by the hand and transform you as you read. I definitely feel more in the here an the now whenever I read The power of Now!
The problems arise when I put these books away again and forget all about these wise lessons, caught up in my thoughts about our big move, life in Italy and buying dogs & a donkey.
All very exciting but not helpful when I want to hangout and do nothing!
Il dolce far niente at Lou & Luca’s
I guess I cannot wait to finally move to Italy, be there and perhaps one day actually find il dolce far niente in myself!
When we actually live there and post up-to-date pics of beautiful mountains and our new donkey!
Meanwhile, I hope that in my search for il dolce far niente, Luca, At Lou & Luca’s and our community can help many others experience, see and feel il dolce far niente.
That’s my dream… That people can really relax and just enjoy themselves at Lou & Luca’s. Hopefully, we can make it work!
I’ll just continue not do nothing for a bit to put everything together so that when you join us you have all the time in the world to enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing!