“Who is wealthy? One who is happy with what they have.”
Here especially in the US, people often think that wealth and happiness go hand in hand. Yes wealth will surely give you a feeling of accomplishment and the means to provide well for your family, but if you read the headlines, some of the wealthiest people in the world, have the most problems. Money is not evil, and the people that usually say it is are the one’s that don’t have enough of it. How we treat, respect, and what we do with our money is what is key. In your home, do you look at your possessions as a measure of success – or do you you look at your surrounding friends, family, and children with pride and see your true accomplishments?
In Italy, the most important thing is family and friends. Enjoying life and embracing it, instead of just watching if zip by in front of your eyes. In Italy for instance, lunch is a 1 to 2 hour affair with traditionally a two to three course meal, most businesses halt for two hours during the day. Stores shut down, banks close, and the streets are empty. At around 2 o’clock people start to emerge from their houses and populate the streets again until around 7:30pm when it is time for dinner. After dinner, the streets come to life again as Italians stroll around the piazza to work off their meal or head off for their evening engagements.
Yes, this does not seem realistic for us here in America, we will always have the quick power lunch or even be working right through lunch. But we need to slow down a bit. We need to adapt a bit of mindset from the Italians, for our total wellness of health and happiness. America’s #1 health problem is the overlooked epidemic of stress, and with the hectic lives most of us have here and struggles with the economy, there is not a whole lot we can do about it. What we need to do is work on small things to reduce our stress. Medical research has proven that stress alone and worrying contributes to many serious health challenges.
Wealth is much more than just money. But for most of us here in America, the money part of wealth will continue to be of upmost importance… and the number one cause of stress. Studies have shown people in Italy have greater longevity, are less stressed, and show lower levels of heart disease, obesity, and mental disturbance.
So what is the Italian lifestyle in Italy? Well, for starters, money is far from everything. It’s embracing what you have, being happy with it, and proud of it. Counting your blessings. Taking the time to enjoy good food, good wine, and good company. Eating fresh healthy foods from a Mediterranean diet. Living life with passion, serenity and enjoyment. And, considering your true wealth to be what you already have and are able to share with family and friends.
So do as the Italians do. It will not be easy, but make a conscious effort to slow down a bit, and savor every moment in life. Spend less time wanting and more time giving. Make time to relax. Enjoy time spent among those you love over a nice Chianti, cannoli, espresso, or biscotti and Vin Santo. Put a bit of an ease on your hectic life of living in America, and start living la dolce vita now. Life is not perfect in Italy, but incorporating some of their lifestyle into yours may just give you a wealth of health and happiness… and that my friends is fine living.
By, Richard J Michelli
Italia Living Founder / Director / Contributing Writer