An Italian-American Road to Well-Being


My life’s work focuses on the crossroads where psychology self-help meets traditional Italian lifestyle habits to enable us to live a more “dolce vita”, on a daily basis. I’d like to share these tips for making life a bit less anxious and lot more enjoyable. The more you practice them, the more you will appreciate what is good about your life.

1.       Reconnect to famiglia. A study from the University of Chicago found that loneliness undermines physical, as well as emotional well-being. An often overlooked path to strengthening relationships lies within your own network of relatives. Trace relatives from your Italian ancestry and drop them an email. Drop a grudge that you feel no longer serves you and make a phone call to a relative that isn’t speaking to you. Pay a visit to the elders in your family that find it hard to get out and about.

2.       Go with the flow of amicizia.   When life’s circumstances change, often your social landscape changes, too. Perhaps you have lost some friends who might have moved away physically or emotionally. Some friendships from the past, on the other hand, might require a bit of effort to bring them back to the forefront. New activities aligned with your evolving interests could also open the door to stimulating new relationships. Take action today to increase or strengthen your circle of friends.

3.       Practice l’arte d’arrangiarsi.  The best way to strengthen your “well-being muscle” is to recall the times you have successfully faced your challenges in the past, and came out smiling despite them.  My Italian ancestors taught me through their example, to summon the courage to face reality and to be victorious in the face of hardship. The Italians who immigrated to the U.S. at the turn of the century had no idea what lay ahead of them in a brand new culture that spoke a foreign tongue. They were confident, however, that no matter what, they would find the strength and develop the “know-how” to bring about a better life. This doesn’t mean there weren’t obstacles, but there was a belief in their own ability to get through those obstacles. You have this ability, too.

4.       Adopt an attitude of accontentarsi. I just returned from a stay among my relatives in a remote, yet self-sustaining village outside of Benevento. Everyone has a role in making their community successful. Each person works hard, knows when to rest, when to celebrate, and always pitches in to help others who need a hand. Their lives are anything but easy; paid jobs are scarce; money is tight, but all in all, you can’t help but be drawn to the bustling happiness of their everyday lives. Contentment comes from small joys and the refusal to dwell what one doesn’t have. At the end of each day, list everything about your day that made you feel good.  Before long you will recognize the richness of your life.

“Well-being” is the capacity to feel healthy, happy, and satisfied with your life. Many experts now believe that well-being is not something that you either have or you are out of luck. Instead, it is a skill that you can learn through daily practice.  Our Italian heritage holds numerous secrets for attaining a dolce vita lifestyle despite life’s hardships.

(adopted from a weekly column I write for The Italian Tribune)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s