I don’t sit still very well. I never have and quite honestly, I am not sure that I ever will. Since January I have dedicated 20 minutes every morning to meditation to quiet my mind and do nothing. It is more difficult than any spin class I have ever taken and requires intense concentration to concentrate on nothing. The minute the practice is over my mind starts racing again and going in a million different directions. I guess I still have some work to do.
Despite all of this, I would like to encourage all of us (myself included) to embrace the Italian philosophy of il dolce di far niente – the beauty of doing nothing. Stopping to sit and have a coffee at a table rather than out of a paper cup. Reading the newspaper over an afternoon pastry (it’s ok once in a while). Taking 30 minutes out of your day to talk with someone. Not networking, not planning, not organizing. Just talking. About life. Or your kids. Or the genius of The Breakfast Club. It’s enjoyable. It’s restorative. It’s civilized.
Italy’s cafe culture encourages this practice. Beautiful sidewalk cafes, lakeside cafes, rows of tables in the most beautiful piazze in the world. Even four piece orchestras playing beautiful music to enhance the experience. When you sit at the famed Caffe Florian in Venice, you will pay more than you ever have or a cappuccino but you can stay there for as long as you please. No one will bring you the check until you ask for it, you won’t get long stares from a waiter, as if willing you to get out of your chair. You will be invited to simply sit back, enjoy the view and your drink until you decide to move on. If you feel yourself getting antsy, look around at the Italians. Feel the vibe. Embrace il dolce di far niente. It’s good for you.