“Il bel far niente.”
The beauty of doing nothing.
An Italian ideal that came to light when Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat Pray Love was released.
It is not our typical American culture way of thinking or even believing to be true. In our “pull yourself up by the bootstraps”, “work hard, then play hard” culture, the pleasure of doing nothing is truly a foreign concept.
The idea is slowly trickling into our lives though, through phrases such as self- care and “putting your mask on first.” We are slowly learning. We still haven’t quite grasped it. “Me” time still has tasks to do, lists of things to be accomplished in order for “me” time to be complete. We seldom just are. We seldom exist in the moment but rather rush ahead, as multi-tasking as taken over our lives. In rushing to create more time, we have less time. We need “il bel far niente.”
To not practice this stifles and smothers our creativity.
How does one derive pleasure from doing nothing? How can one wake up and simply ask, “what shall I do today?” and then answer, “with great pleasure, I will eat my breakfast outside with hot coffee, listening to nature and read the paper”?
You give yourself permission. Old habits, the many tapes in our head that say that you must first “earn” your pleasure will try to stop you. The voices within will provide you with a hundred reasons that you cannot do that today or find all the things you can multi-task while you relax. You will have to fight them. You will have to tell them to “Shut the bloody hell Up!” But do it anyways.
If you need reasons to allow “il bel far niente” into your life, here are three:
1) It is necessary for your well-being. The US has some of the highest stressed, unhealthy people in the modern world because we are holding onto old ideas that no longer fit what we need as individuals. Taking pleasure in nothing, reduces stress. It reduces our need to rush and multi-task everything. It gives our minds and our spirit a break. We do not need pleasure to be handed to us by flashy advertising and material goods. We need to ask, “what shall I do today?”
2) We are most able to expand our creativity by letting go of expectations of doing something to fill up time. Instead, our mind plays and wanders. It is freed from the constant constraints of “busy-ness.”
3) “The beauty of doing nothing” is the art of pleasure. It is an act of enjoying oneself, why do you need any other reason. Life is for living and have pleasurable and enjoyable moments.
Here is your Ten- Minute challenge.
Ask yourself, “what shall I do?” for the sake of doing only that thing.
Then for ten minutes do the one thing or nothing that gives you pleasure.