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The art of doing nothing is the antithesis of the modern schedule. It is a concept that many societies have at some level, with the Italians calling it la dolce far niente. Stepping away is literally “sweetness.”

Working yourself to near exhaustion isn’t healthy. By the time you make it to the weekend, the only thing you want to do is lounge in pajamas and watch television. When you’re ready to be productive, then it is time to go to work.

This habit is more about survival instead of enjoying life.

The art of doing nothing is a decision to participate in an event. You make a physical choice to stop participating in the usual routine. That means putting down the phone, turning off your notifications, and disappearing from the rest of the world.

What Can You Do to Disappear Every Day?

The Italian version of doing nothing means a different lifestyle and routine gets followed than the American option of “work hard, play hard.”

After spending a few hours at work, an Italian practicing la dolce far niente might come home to take a short nap. Then they might wander to a local café for a glass of wine or a quick snack. Some stay home to spend time with their family.

Where would you go if there weren’t any demands placed on your schedule? Do the mountains call your name, or is the gentle waves of the beach that cry out for attention?

Learning the art of doing nothing could mean using your free time to play video games with your kids instead of checking your email one more time. Imagine taking a walk in a park, holding hands with your significant other, with neither one of you checking Facebook or the current balance in your account.

The kind of relaxation that prevents burnout isn’t found on a natural trail or a moment of laugher with a friend. It is something that exists in each one of us. It is there for the taking if you’re willing to put in the work to tap into it.

Now is the perfect time to stop thinking that Saturday and Sunday are the only days you can relax. Take care of your responsibilities at work. Bring home that paycheck, and then find ways to have fun. Everyone has a way to start doing nothing. 

Scott Larson