Photo by Evan Buchholz on Unsplash
2024 / April

Joy of nothing

Dolce far niente

The Retune Blog - 5th April 2024

I’m currently taking a couple of weeks off (OK, offish as I’m still writing this!). And what is better to do when you’re off than simply doing nothing. I sometimes think of doing nothing as an act of defiance in a cultural context of productivity.

But the importance of doing nothing isn’t a new idea. The Latin proverb dolce far niente, which translates as ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’, shows the ancient wisdom of doing nothing. And it’s something reflected more contemporarily in this week’s song, Foy Vance’s Joy of Nothing:

Ooh, the joy of nothing is a sweeter something, and I will hold it in my heart.

In a world of consumption and production being satisfied with what we have and who we are isn’t always the easiest. Yet this ancient wisdom of contentment and presence has made a comeback in the form of mindfulness.

In mindfulness we are encouraged to be present and focused on the current moment rather than consumed by the past or worried for the future. And it is often in this mindful presence that the joy of nothing of which Vance sings becomes a reality. As we ground ourselves in the now and observe and experience what is going on around us in the present moment we can begin to see the wonder of the world as it is in that very moment, redirecting us from the past or future.

This can then become life transforming if we follow Vance’s second step to hold it in [our] heart[s]. To do this, we begin to put into action the heart of mindfulness as we move throughout our experiences in life. We practise being present as we move through our days, experiencing the joy of the everyday activities and situations we face.

But the key word in all of this is practice. To find the simple joy of experiencing life and rest in its fullness, we simply, but very difficulty, need to let go of striving. Now that’s a challenge in a world in which consumption and production reign.

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Founder and Director of Metanoeo CIC and Metanoeo Coaching. Working with individuals, communities and business to co-create #wellbeing4all through life coaching, resources for living life well and training and supporting life coaches.

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