The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

If you’ve ever read or watched Eat, Pray, Love, you’ve heard this phrase before. In the memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert explains that she learns this from an Italian who says, “La Dolce Far Niete,” which seems to mean to take pleasure in the stillness and moment of relaxation.

In the book, her Italian friends comment that this is something Americans have trouble with. That they must always be doing something instead of just living in the moment and enjoying whatever lies in front of them. Whether that is good company, beautiful scenery, or a delicious plate of food.

This phrase, and the comments with it, has resonated with me recently. See, I spend my weekends often on my own because my boyfriend, Elliot, is in a position where he is almost always working on weekends. Sure, I gather some friends to go on hikes and to local art shows, but generally, I’m doing my own thing.

So, in the past year or so, I’ve generally gotten good at keeping myself busy. I make a plan for the weekend and find both fun and productive things to do.

But then there are always the occasional weekend days where I am, as one of my favorite Brits would say, “lying in.” Or in American terms, I am being lazy.

Here’s the thing though, there is such a difference, at least to me, between the words “lying in” and “lazy.” It seems to me that lazy has such a negative connotation with it whereas the British term is just an explanation. Simply a thing that people do. No negative feeling (at least not in my experience) associated with it.

But when I inevitably have one of these lazy days, I almost always feel a sense of guilt. If you’re like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I have this whole inner dialog where I’m all anxious and thinking about all the things I could’ve gotten done with my day. I think of all the missed opportunities and my long list of “to dos” and how I didn’t get anything checked off. I even think, “What a waste of a day.”

Isn’t that horrible?

I mean, it’s sad to think that I’ve somehow (whether from American culture, my own anxiety, or both) put myself in such a negative, self deprecating mindset. It sounds harsh, but considering how guilty I feel at the end of those days, it’s pretty accurate.

I could sit here and ask why we do this to ourselves, but instead I’m going to start giving myself a break. In fact, yesterday, it wasn’t until 4:00 that I started checking things off my to do list. But I started my day with the farmer’s market, enjoyed a intriguing new show, and spent a lot of quality time with my cats. I ended the day cleaning up the house and cooking lots of delicious food. It was an awesome day.

I don’t need to make excuses for my behavior. Whether the week before was busy or not, it’s okay that I took a day to just be. I don’t have to be constantly pumping out productivity. And I certainly don’t need to only relax once on vacation. What kind of life will I have if I do that?

Instead, I’m giving myself a break. I’m going to unapologetically be lazy every once in a while. And while it may be hard, I’m going to do my best to not feel bad about it or make excuses as to why it’s okay. Sometimes, I just need to be.

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And I hope this inspires you to go a little easier on yourself too and do with your day whatever you please.

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