My entire life, I’ve been told that the secret to a fulfilling life is hustle and hard work; the reverse is true for me. I’ve made more money when I enjoyed my life thoroughly, than when I was pounding away in the never-ending grind.
At this point in my life, I’ve realized there’s a sweet spot between business success and living a great life. For me, and I assume, most of you, working enough isn’t the problem. The bigger issue is knowing when to put down the checklist and step into LIVING.
Over the years of traveling to Italy, I’ve picked up on the framework of the Italian’s La Dolce Vita. The Italians, along with many other Mediterranean countries have tapped into LIFE in a big way. And according to the Blue Zone’s data… their way results in living longer, happier and more fulfilled lives.
Here are several approaches that I’ve learned from the Italians that have supported me in living happier.
BECOME AN EXPERT IN PLEASURE:
When I focus on pleasure and the things that truly impact my happiness, i.e., food, family, fun, friends and take the time to enjoy my life now and not later, I’m infinitely happier. I think sometimes we think we have to EARN the pleasures of life. Ex: If I stay on my diet all week, then I can have a treat on the weekend.
Living in Italy has showed me that the pleasures don’t need to be earned, they need to be appreciated NOW. With thousands of years of history, wars, plagues, famine… it’s part of their DNA to know that tomorrow is not promised.
I used to be beyond regimented. My schedule was minute to minute and any change would throw me for a loop. If a friend called me last minute and wanted to meet up, I’d open my calendar and look 1-4 weeks in advance for an open slot. Sound familiar?
Today, I block out my schedule and batch my Zoom meetings and coaching calls on one-day. Then, everything else on my ‘things to do list’ are a suggestion. And, most importantly, I leave room for coffee.
What do I mean by coffee? I leave room for unexpected magic. Possibly an impromptu lunch-date with my wife or a coffee with a good friend. I now understand that I won’t get those minutes and experiences back, so I’ve learned to go with the flow and ENJOY my life.
The Italians have instructed us to live the sweet life “La Dolce Vita” for the last 2000 years, and it seems to be working for them.
BECOME AN EXPERT IN DOING NOTHING
The Italians have a phrase for it, La Dolce Far Niente. Literally: the essence of doing nothing AND enjoying it.
Remember when we used to daydream? In moments of downtime, we’d sit and think, or journal. In today’s world, we seldom take time to let our imaginations take over. Now, we scroll. Instead of allowing our brain a respite from activity, we distract ourselves with endless information overload.
Even on vacation at the beach or pool, you don’t see people just soaking in the salt and sun… there’s a screen in their hand, and they’re either “working from anywhere” or in a scroll-hole.
The lesson that La Dolce Far Niente has taught me is to not confuse taking time to do nothing with being lazy or having a lack of ambition. They’ve taught me that it’s in that nothing-ness that your body, your mind and your soul are re-charging. And unless you want to burn-out in a pit of overwhelm…it’s necessary for not only for your mental well-being, but also for your personal and professional growth.
BECOME AN EXPERT IN NOT MAKING WORK YOUR PRIORITY
Yes, we all need money. I want money. You want money. We all want money, and I get it. Often, we define our self-worth by how success we are in our business.
But what if you re-defined success? What if you allowed business to just be ONE part of the pie of LIFE and you looked at all the areas equally? Doesn’t your success in your marriage or being a great parent to your kids offer you equal value as your business success? When you die, do you want your kids to say, “Wow, Dad/Mom was a great businessman!” or “He/She are my role models for being a great parent and LIFE”.
But there’s a sweet spot between business success and LIFE.
The Italians don’t live to work; they work to LIVE. They’ve taught me that it’s ENOUGH when the business/opportunity eats away at my bandwidth for a great life.
CREATIVES NEED CREATIVE ENVIRONMENTS
It’s comfortable for us to go through our days as zombies in un-stimulating environments. We can easily “zoom it in” without much trouble.
But, when you change your surroundings to one that involves more of your senses, your creativity shifts.
Personally, in Florence, I feel like a changed person creatively. The city is the most beautiful city in the world and is an all-out assault on my senses. It demands my attention. The sounds of the bells, the smells of pastries, the Tuscan countryside, the sing-song chatter of the Italian language. I can’t help but to feel inspired.
Does this mean you need to move to Florence? No! It does mean that you need to find the environment that lights YOUR soul on fire. Maybe it’s the tranquility of the lake or maybe the hustle-and-bustle of New York City. Your neighborhood matters.
It’ll impact you in ways far beyond the obvious.
Finding the sweet spot between your business and your LIFE will be the most important and impactful things that you can do to increase your overall fulfillment and happiness in life.
If you’re inspired by La Dolce Vita and want to experience what I’ve talked about for yourself, then join us in Italy for one of our immersive Italy experiences! You can get the details on what’s coming up next here.