"A little makes the way of the best happiness," wrote Friedrich Nietzsche. Just a few simple things like "a lizard's rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment", which we must start again to observe and cherish every day. During these times of bewilderment, fear and frustration, which we are living through nowadays as a result of the pandemic, attending to our happiness and that of others is almost a moral imperative.
But how do we do this? Where do we start? Where do we look? Journalist and radio host Paola Maugeri and psychotherapist and social media influencer Luca Mazzucchelli help us find an answer to this question, thanks to their incredible contribution to the PHYD online event run on 17 December, with the title, as thought-provoking as ever, "Feed yourself to improve the world". Both guests lead us by the hand into a strong, but ever chaotic flow of consciousness where they tell us what being happy means to them, how they have tried to hold on to this during the lockdown period, and how they intend to nurture it in the future. They do this by referring to four major concepts.
This is the ability to perceive and recognise the position of one's own body in space. In other words, it means being aware of it, knowing how to listen to its needs and taking care of them. At a time when people are obsessed about appearances, they forget the more ethereal aspect of our physicality, which relates to the soul, with a more complex and profound feeling. Paola Maugeri, who has written several books on health and well-being, invites us to listen to our own body through meditation, for instance. The aim is for us to manage to go about at a slower, more natural pace, and even stop, if necessary, to enable us to understand what place we occupy in the world. Luca Mazzucchelli sees writing as a powerful tool for people to get to know themselves more intimately, like a therapeutic instrument "that lets you listen to your heart". So, knowing yourself, in a path that leads from the outside to the inside and vice versa, is the first step towards a more conscious and, therefore, serene existence.
This encompasses not only a sense of gratification, but also of completion. It is the feeling of satisfaction which emerges from something that is fully completed. However, the two guests offer, on this point, a deeper nuance in meaning. Luca actually talks about people "feeling in blossom" and "feeding" themselves, as reflected in the title of the event, through knowledge, passion, listening to their intimate self and own calling. Paola thinks that this is something quite different from talent, because it isn't tangible or measurable, but is something that must be nurtured in the same way as we do with a seed. This gives rise to a healthy sense of egotism, focusing attention on your own individuality, which does not mean closing yourself off but, on the contrary, opening yourself up to a sense of otherness. It involves, as Paola expresses it, "you putting yourself at the service of others". It's only if we feed ourselves sufficiently that we can, in fact, give to others, and it's only by giving to others that we give any meaning to our own thriving existence.
Our home is becoming our office, but also our city. The pandemic has turned on its head our sense of space and distance. It has compressed the area we occupy so that our personal space now overlaps with our social space. Many people find that managing such different times and places is still a very difficult challenge. The remedy to the sense of claustrophobia and burnout, which can result from this situation, is to re-educate our outlook and mind, focusing not on what we have lost, but on the things we have gained. For instance, noticing how many daisies there are on the lawn outside the house or enjoying the experience of sitting and having a snack with your children. In the view of Paola and Luca, investing in the quality of relationships and actions is the key to achieving this delicate and precious balance.
Relationships with others form the basis of our existence, giving it meaning and direction, even today, and more especially today. We must "keep our distance, but not be faraway," says Paola Maugeri. We cannot hug or touch other, but we can listen to, talk to and understand each other, give each other a call, write a letter, say things that we've never said before, show ourselves to others without feeling shy or having any preconceptions, just like looking in a mirror. The most important lesson that we've learned during the pandemic, continues Paola, "is that the most beautiful things in life are fragile and therefore unique". Learning to take care of fragility means "giving yourself emotional nourishment" and doing this, concludes Luca Mazzucchelli, requires a great deal of time and ever so much patience.
To watch the entire event, simply register on the PHYD site: “Feed yourself to improve the world”.