Il Dolce Far Niente
(‘The Sweetness of Doing Nothing’)
The last Quotespirational Monday of 2015 guys. I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by, but the past two or three days things seem to have slowed down slightly. Christmas and Boxing Day I did something I haven’t done in a long time: chilled out. Calmed down. Transformed into sloth with a penchant for nut butters. Did abso-frigging-lutely nothing. And I feel a whole lot better for it. That kind of refreshed that comes from sitting in a chair and reading after a big meal. That comes from playing card games with your family. That can also be achieved by sitting in your dressing gown with a cup of tea and a dog until midday.
We’re always encouraged to be busy, stay moving, strive towards “having it all”- that means every second of your time has to be filled, just to come close to that ideal. One of the biggest things I’ve learnt this year is that we all need time out. Time to have the space to do nothing. There are things that, yes, are good for your body- like weights, oily fish, lots of water, walking, taking the stairs, and routine- but there are also things that are good for the soul. Like brownies, bagels, large cappuccinos, lie-ins, halloumi cheese, and pj days.
It may seem a little bit backwards that I’m telling you, so close to a new year, to take time out. But any goal you make, if it’s to last a lifetime, needs to be sustainable. You know what isn’t sustainable? Filling every hour of every day chasing things you don’t really want. I looked back at my (colour coded, jam packed) 2015-16 diary for the month of October. I’d just returned to uni. Every single day had a minimum of 5-6 things in it. Lectures, seminars, gym sessions, study groups, cleaning, the food shop, coffee with friends, an essay due, a blog post to write, work… Every day. For the whole month. It was the end of October/ being of November I began to feel the effects of this, caught a virus I couldn’t shake, and had to take a whole week off sick. Which defeated the object of my trying to be so productive.
Until a Pinterest browsing session I had never heard the phrase Il dolce far niente, but “the sweetness of doing nothing” is actually something I try to incorporate into my daily, and weekly, routine. Each day I will set aside time where I have nothing planned, other than spending it on myself. It isn’t a back up slot for study groups or coffee with friends (I would say sorry to anyone I know reading this, but they know me well enough to realise I wouldn’t mean it). It isn’t a uni work overflow zone (because I make sure I’m organised enough to have that done). Unless I have specific plans, it is usually in the evening. And I can watch YouTube, or a DVD, or blog, or read, or take a bath with loads of bubbles, or sit with my dog and a cup of tea. Things that when someone asks what you’re up to you go “Oh, nothing…”. Once a week I try get in a whole day of “doing nothing”, aka. basically having no plans. It means on, say, a Sunday, that I can wake up when I feel like it. If I want to I can do some yoga (but only if I really want to), have a leisurely breakfast, stroll into town to window shop, have a coffee in my favourite café and do some writing. It is, like halloumi and brownies and drinks with friends and your dog, good for something inside of you that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Not just for this week, but into 2016, try and incorporate “the sweetness of doing nothing” into your life. I promise you won’t regret it.