Dolce Far Niente

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

It’s true. Many Americans seem to think that they have to be doing something to have fun. Engaging in some form of physical activity is fun. Absolutely! The belief that if you’re not doing “fun” things a certain percentage of the time then you can’t be happy or fulfilled is rubbish, though.

Remember when Ferris called Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day off? After hanging up, Cameron moaned, “I’m dying.” The phone rang again and it was Ferris to say, “Your’re not dying. You just can’t think of anything good to do.” Here it is (custom made by my husband)…

Why do we feel like that? Why do we think that if we can’t think of something “good” to do, then we’ll be miserable and bored? Is relaxing on a day off not good?

The clip from Eat Pray Love explains it perfectly. We often confuse fun with pleasure. We don’t have to be laughing or doing some physical activity to find pleasure. I find pleasure in being lazy, even when I do get out of the house. For instance, going to the mall and just walking around or even sitting (people watching) is enjoyable to me. I don’t need to have a purpose to go to the mall – nothing in mind to buy, and no mindless spending necessary.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what the difference is. I can be lazy at home surfing the internet, reading, writing, or just watching TV, or I can be lazy at a state park. The surroundings are different, but the end result is the same. I get absolutely nothing accomplished.

I am guilty of the accusation in this movie clip. While I don’t feel time is wasted if I’m not having fun in the sense described in the clip, I feel it’s wasted if I’m not productive in some way. Spending an entire day watching TV is relaxing for sure, but I do feel guilty at the end of the day because I didn’t get anything accomplished.

Tangent alert… Some may see making jewelry as boring and unproductive, but that would be productive to me because there is an end result. Moreover, it exercises my creativity. The problem is that I don’t do it frequently enough to keep the creative juices flowing. I haven’t made anything since before Christmas. BEFORE CHRISTMAS! That’s a long time! It’s hard to just sit down and create something. The ideas just don’t come to me, and I sit there feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in front of me. I start an idea and scrap it over and over because it’s not unique enough. But I digress… end of tangent.

Does it make me an old fart because I no longer feel a desire to be out in a crowd cuttin’ it up to have a good time that often? If so, then I’m fine with that because I am having a good time doing more relaxing (aka: lazy) things. My brain is still active. That’s good enough for me! Pleasure.

Dolce far niente!

Be Humble and Content

It may be a small book in the Bible, but it tells it like it is. Go James!

James 4

Friendship with the World

1Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body? 2You want something you don’t have, and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing. You should pray for it. 3Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.

4You people aren’t faithful to God! Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5Do you doubt the Scriptures that say, “God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us”? [a]6In fact, God treats us with even greater kindness, just as the Scriptures say,

“God opposes everyone who is proud,

but he is kind to everyone who is humble.”

7Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you. 8Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you people who can’t make up your mind. 9Be sad and sorry and weep. Stop laughing and start crying. Be gloomy instead of glad. 10Be humble in the Lord’s presence, and he will honor you.

Saying Cruel Things about Others

11My friends, don’t say cruel things about others! If you do, or if you condemn others, you are condemning God’s Law. And if you condemn the Law, you put yourself above the Law and refuse to obey either it 12or God who gave it. God is our judge, and he can save or destroy us. What right do you have to condemn anyone?

Warning against Bragging

13You should know better than to say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!” 14What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. 15You should say, “If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things.” 16Yet you are stupid enough to brag, and it is wrong to be so proud. 17If you don’t do what you know is right, you have sinned.

Source: BibleGateway.com (Contemporary English Version)

It’s not easy for some to be content with what they have. The desire to keep up with friends and family can consume us. Especially when those same people continue to succeed and are able to afford to live such lifestyles … OR when they can’t really afford it but rely on credit cards making it appear to others that they can. But that’s beside the point. The point is that we think, for some selfish and covetous reason, that we need such things in order to be happy and content.

We should just be still and realize that we can be content with much less. We truly can be content with fewer and less elaborate possessions. Homes don’t need to be decorated like display homes. Yards don’t need to be adorned with beautiful gardens. While visually pleasing, that shouldn’t be what we desire as a means of happiness and self-fulfillment. To live life believing that having such things proves your worthiness of living among a certain “class” of society is a such a falsehood. If that’s what it takes, then I’m not so sure I would want to live among that class.

In search of the humble and content class! :D

What Exactly is Happiness?

I think it’s a misconception to think that to be happy, you have to be bursting with the emotion with a life full of laughter at every turn. People (and I think especially Americans) are always searching for happiness and often not quite feeling like they’ve found it or can maintain it. Consider Galatians 5:22-26 (Contemporary English Version):

22God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, 23gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. 24And because we belong to Christ Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. 25God’s Spirit has given us life, and so we should follow the Spirit. 26But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are.

Is it not possible to consider happiness found when living this way? Being content in the moment and not always looking for something more can equate to happiness. When we learn to be truly grateful for what we do have, then we can find pure joy in simply being!

I also like this quote from the movie “Eat Pray Love”:

You want to know how to be here?  Stop constantly waiting for something.

I’m content when I’m being creative. Photography, making jewelry, and even writing are all creative outlets for me. I’m content to sit and read. I’m content watching a movie or TV show. I’m content playing old-fashioned board or card games. I’m content walking around and exploring or even just sitting at a park. I’m not a high-energy person, so these things appeal to me but may seem boring to others.

When are you content?

Happiness is…

What Constitutes a Happy and Fulfilled Life?

Simply hanging out with my family makes me happy. There’s a relaxed joy about just lounging in the family room watching a movie or favorite shows together. Not everyone in the family enjoys the same types of games, and that’s fine. Some of us enjoy being more silly than others. Personally, it depends on my mood; I can be crazy silly or just slightly silly. Spending time individually with my kids is also important to me – even if it’s just for ten minutes or so. Hearing their views on things, learning what’s important to them, knowing their goals in life (or just for the current week) … these things warm my heart. I encourage their individuality. This brings us all peace.

I truly enjoy the work I do at my “day job”. It’s satisfying to know that I helped someone solve a problem or that I did my part in maintaining a safe and secure place to do business.  It’s also a total thrill to me to push and challenge myself to do better all the time. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush for me!

Photography is a passion of mine. Anyone can take snapshots, but simply buying an “over-the-counter” DSLR Canon from Best Buy didn’t instantly make me a professional. Yes, my photos started looking better, but until I really learned how to use all the settings available and invested in a few good lenses and learned more about composition (I already refused to use the on-camera flash – ICK), I was really still a point-and-shooter – just with a somewhat nicer camera. At best, I had moved up to an avid photographer or an aspiring professional. But I digress. What I love about photography is capturing the ordinary in extraordinary ways to draw the eye to things normally overlooked so you see the true beauty and find real emotion in things. This brings me joy!

There is something I find fulfilling, and that is to observe and totally absorb my surroundings wherever I am. At the risk of sounding like a stalker, I do pay attention to people at the store. I find human behavior very interesting. It’s much more than that, though. I pay attention to sounds and smells all around me, and I really SEE everything – not just what is directly in front of me. When I’m at the grocery store reaching for apples, I notice the entire display of the variety of apples and how meticulously they are stacked at an angle with the stems all facing left. I notice the sweet and tart smells and also the sound of the produce bag rustling as I place each apple into it. I notice the smooth coolness of the apple (or the peculiar bumpiness of an avocado) in my hand. Total awareness like this is extremely satisfying to me. To make the conscious effort to notice everything in life is important to me. It calms me.

Notice the end of each paragraph: peace, adrenaline rush, joy, and calm. These things make me happy!  What makes you happy? What satisfies you and fulfills your life?

Pure and True Happiness

That’s some serious laughter!

It warms your heart to see such pure and true happiness in person, but to capture it and relive it over and over is really special.  This is only one of the reasons I love photography so much.

I am determined to learn all that I can about exposure.  I’ve read the same thing several times from a few different sources.  I think it’s finally sinking in.  I played and practiced and experimented all day.  Thank goodness my camera will display all the settings used for each photo taken because I took close to 300 today!  I loaded them on my computer then and looked at them on the big monitor.  Much better quality today.  I had some “ah-ha!” moments, too.  With a little more practice, I think I’m going to be ready to tackle senior portraits!

The weeds are still happily blowing in the breeze in my rose garden, and the house is still a mess … but I took a day to lose myself in a passion.   Seeing that happiness in my daughter made it all worth it!  I’ve got a load of laundry to fold, and one more in the dryer as I type.  I’ll just squeeze in some power cleaning during my breaks tomorrow.  Maybe I need to make this a normal 40-hour work week so I can focus on some neglected areas in my life.