One of my best friends recently came home from studying abroad in Alicante, Spain with the Spanish 888 rule drilled into her head by her native roommate. It goes a little something like this:
You must sleep for 8 hours, play for 8 hours and work for 8 hours. If you sleep more than 8 hours, you are lazy. If you play more than 8 hours, you are a drunk. And if you work more than 8 hours…you are American.
The Spanish aren’t the only ones with this kind of mentality though… The Italians have the phrase “il dolce far niente,” which translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing.”
I think it’s safe to say that very few Americans live life with either mentality. Why are we the only culture that doesn’t know how to relax? Our intense work ethic is a large part of the reason many of us feel that we aren’t living our lives to the fullest, spending enough time with our family and friends, or living out our dreams.
If we aren’t giving our minds time to keep up, reflect on, and process what we are doing on a daily basis we can easily end up lost within our lives and missing the passion that our lives are supposed to be filled with.
We need to learn that relaxation is not only for vacations. We should be practicing it daily with activities like yoga, coffee or drinks with an old friend, a long walk with the dog, a hike to the top of a mountain, a spa day, reading a book in the grass, sitting on the beach and listening to the waves, or something as simple as sitting on the porch.
Whatever you decide to do to relax, make sure you aren’t doing it for anything but the pleasure of doing it. You shouldn’t be on that walk to burn calories, practicing yoga to increase your strength, or laying on the beach to attract a partner. Be there for you, think about your life, breathe, and relax!