William Liao

April 22, 2022

dolce far niente

Dolce far niente is an Italian phrase that directly translates to “sweet doing nothing.” 

Depending on which dictionary you reference, you’ll find other translations like “pleasing inactivity” or, my favorite, “pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness”.

You get the gist: dolce far niente is about doing nothing while having a good time.

For some, this is a completely foreign concept. I’m talking about people (including myself) who are so conditioned to be preoccupied with something — anything — that to do nothing almost immediately results in feelings of guilt, anxiety, and displeasure. 

This conditioning almost always works against our aspirations: when we need a break to do our best, we feel guilty. And because we feel guilty, our ‘break’ results in more angst than rest. And because our ‘break’ wasn’t really a break, we return to our important work just as exhausted, if not more. 

The Productivity Treadmill is enticing — I get it. But even world-class runners who love running take breaks. 

To work well is to rest well. 

And to rest well is to embrace the spirit of dolce far niente