Happiness

Una Bella Vita

2020 may not be a year for traveling, but where would you go if you could? Hawaii? Switzerland? Paris?

Maybe a trip to Tuscany is part of your dream. So wherever you are, you’re longing for Tuscany. Maybe you feel cheated by the fact that you can’t go.

But even if you could travel there, you’d come home again. And if you think of home as boring and drab, you’re going to be constantly disappointed. Your wonderful dream trip to Tuscany would make your daily life seem mundane in comparison.

I’ve recently come to accept that vacation trips, as terrific as they are, last for a week or two. I live in my current home all the rest of the time. I don’t want to feel discontented all the time. Continually longing for something I don’t have. Fantasizing my real life away.

That’s not how I want to live.

Even if I can’t travel this year, I want to live in my dream home now.

Sure, I could pay off all my debts, research jobs and housing, and make a plan to move to Tuscany. But I can also figure out what it is about Tuscany that makes my heart sing. What does Tuscany offer that my home town doesn’t?

Perhaps the appeal is the warm climate, the rural vineyards and olive groves, the slower pace of life, the wine and the food, the language, the colors, the art, or the ancient buildings.

Why not incorporate the attributes of Tuscany (or anywhere else) into everyday life?

It seems much smarter to appreciate life every day than to regret what isn’t there.

Now, I’m not suggesting we run out to the big box store to buy up all of the mass-produced vacation-themed decor. If you’re planning to paint your walls anyway, you can choose a color that makes you feel at peace. If you already have wood tables and a neutral beige couch, you could add throw pillows fitting of the environment that you yearn to be in.

But let’s say we don’t want to do any of that. What if instead, I choose to live more like I would in Tuscany?

  • A slower pace of life, saying no to some commitments, bicycling to work.
  • Creating a sunny nook, indoors or out, where I can sit and read or sip a glass of wine.
  • Transforming my patio into a summer dining room, with strings of white lights wrapped around a sheltering tree, votive candles twinkling on the table, and scents of lavender, rosemary, and thyme drifting over from your container garden.
  • Making time to use that pasta machine I bought so many years ago, instead of letting it gather dust at the back of a closet.
  • Listening to Italian opera, visiting more art museums (even if we have to do it virtually), or even learning to speak Italian.

The phrase that transformed my life the most is one not many Americans are familiar with: il dolce far niente, “the sweetness of doing nothing.” It refers to the ability to focus on, enjoy, and completely bask in a moment without multi-tasking or being in a hurry to move on to the next thing. Not wallowing in FOMO, obsessing about a to-do list, or numbing all thoughts with a phone or TV. Instead, being entranced by a sunset, savoring a juicy peach, or strumming on the guitar that’s been neglected for so long.

You can make these choices. You can remove clutter and distraction and be free to concentrate on what brings you fulfillment.

You can stay home and still live your dream every day.

About the Author: Karen Trefzger is a writer, singer, teacher, wife, mother, and grandmother who has been choosing a simpler life for over 20 years. She is the author of Minimalism A to Z, and blogs at MaximumGratitudeMinimalStuff.

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