Last week I returned from spending an incredible two weeks in Italy, where I taught yoga, practiced yoga, hiked the trails of Cinque Terre, and ate more pasta and gelato than should be legal for one person to consume. The trip was nothing short of amazing, but what I’m even more grateful for are the lifestyle upgrades I acquired while there, and am working hard to preserve now that I’m back.
The Italians have a way of living, that is perfectly described in the phrase “La Dolce Vita,” which translates to the sweet life; and it’s nothing short of savoring each and every lick of a piccolo coni from the infamous San Crispino gelateria. They have figured out how to get their work and chores done, spend hours luxuriating over homemade pasta with friends, then devoting 100% of
They’ve figured out how to get their work and chores done, spend hours luxuriating over homemade pasta with friends, then devoting 100% of their focus on their family- without worry of making a deadline; no cell phone or computer in site.
When visiting Italy, my favorite country, I always try to adopt their lifestyle myself, which means leaving the laptop at home, and only going on my phone once a day to check email and call my family at night. I made a conscious choice to put all social media on hold, except for posting two or three pictures over the 14 days I was away.
Once I got into the mindset of this being something I needed to do for my mental health, the effect on my well-being was shocking- easily being able to focus on one thing at a time, enjoying endless conversation with friends-without worry that I was missing out on something more important, more restful sleep at night, and more energy during the day.
Usually, when I come home I try to keep up with only checking email once or twice a day, not checking social media until the end of the day, and going to bed without watching TV during the week. This usually lasts a week or two until I fall back into the habit of constantly doing “the loop” between email and social media all day while trying to work, and watching a little TV every night before bed.
This time I vowed to “Stop The Insanity!” I felt so incredible, both mentally and physically while I was away, that I am determined to keep these practices going for the long term. So far, so good. I’ve tried to get into the habit of going to bed by 10, vs 12pm, and waking up by 6:30 to meditate before the kids get up and the day starts. I’ve mapped out my daily schedule in my Google Calendar and am only checking email and social media when it says I can.
More importantly, I am focusing all my attention on my friends and family when I am with them. When you stop being tied to your phone or your computer 24-7, you notice how much everyone around you also needs a break. While out to lunch with a friend I purposely left my phone in the car.
When she started taking pictures of her food and posting them on Instagram I joked and said, “Since you took the picture while the plate looked pretty, can’t you wait till later to post it? I mean people aren’t really sitting there waiting to see your caramelized walnut salad- are they?” I didn’t mean to make her feel unimportant, but even if she had 50K followers would they die if her lunch was posted a bit later….no, the answer is obviously no.
My kids even noticed how attentive I am- not as if I wasn’t being present with them after school, but I would occasionally jump back and forth on and off the computer. I now shut it down at 4:15 when they arrive home, and don’t open it again, unless necessary, or it’s the weekend and I’m catching up on Netflix. No more half listening to them tell me about their day as I try to finish up that last bit of work- I don’t need to rush, as I’ve pushed back three projects to give myself more space to get things done. It freaked me out at first, as I am used to working on five things at once, but I know that being more focused on two will yield greater results in the long run.
You might be reading this and thinking, “Yeah, easy for you to say, you work for yourself.” Honestly, it’s just as hard to work for yourself, especially at home, because there is constant distraction and pressure to do everything yourself. No matter what job you have, or who you work for, if you want to make a change badly enough, you figure out how to make it happen .
I hope one or two of these lifestyle changes speak to you, as they have made a tremendous impact on the amount of happiness and energy I have each day. If you have a lifestyle change you’ve adopted after visiting another country- or just because, then please let us know in the comments below.
Remember, you are ultimately in charge of your happiness and well-being, so make sure the choices you make are supporting your happy and healthiest you!