Right before I turned 30 back in 2014 and was starting to read about the French culture, I noticed a theme throughout all of the books that I was reading and that elusive thing was that the French didn’t just wait for things to happen to live well everyday. They didn’t wait until they got the promotion, until it was their birthday, until it was time for a vacation, until it was the weekend, until it was summer…they had set up routines and rituals to live well everyday.
It is a common mindset in America to put things off until this time or that time when things are perfect. We believe that we will dress better when we lose weight, we will travel when we have more time, we will invest in quality things when we get a promotion and make more money, that we will be happy when we can make everything go our way. What I have learned from the French is that everyday, no matter what the circumstance, can be a beautiful day to live well. There are so many opportunities to live well everyday from the moment we wake up until the moment we go back to bed. We need only to tend to the details of our daily lives and not take for granted all of the moments that we have to turn an ordinary day into a beautiful day full of style and small pleasures.
Living Well At Home
Simply put, our lives start and end at home and deserves our utmost attention to detail. It is our sanctuary that holds us each and everyday and no matter where you live, this area of our life deserves our devotion. I am not talking about simply cleaning our home, though of course you do want to maintain a clean home. I am talking about the details that makes everyday life a pleasure at home. Little things like linens such as towels, sheets and a comforter make all the difference when they are quality and feels soft and luxurious against your skin each day. Creating a morning routine of calm and slowness to enjoy breakfast on beautiful dishes and a delicious coffee enjoyed in an antique or artisan cup while listening to beautiful music in the background. Having little pleasantries placed around the home such as a decadent candles, a vase of fresh flowers, a few beautiful antiques picked up at the flea market that are timeless and no one else will have, and a bookcase full of books that light you up with fun imagination and curiosity. These are few things that I have invested in for my home so that I am able to live well everyday at home.
Living Well Through Style
I know some people think that style and clothes don’t matter, but I simply disagree. As human beings our very first impressions of people are by what we see and we make certain assumptions by how a person has presented themselves. Personal style should be a fun, lifelong process of knowing who we are as a person and our body type and knowing how we want to dress and be seen in the world. Every morning we wake up and need to get dressed, so we can either just throw whatever on or we can dress intentionally for the day. Our style is our self expression, as Rachel Zoe said, “It’s telling the world who you are without saying a word”. Style is of the utmost importance in France as they see this as a form of respect for yourself, your family and the general public at large when you dress well. I know when I dress my best I feel my best. Through my personal style I have invested in a few quality pieces that will last me years and still look great instead of a trendy outfit that will be out of style within a few months. Living well is to pay meticulous attention to how you present yourself to the world everyday.
Living Well, Dining Well
We all need to eat a few times each day and how we choose to dine is usually a direct reflection as to how well we are truly living. Are you waking up in a hurry because you slept in, so you eat a bowl or sugary cereal standing up or worse, go through a drive through and eat in your car for breakfast? Or did you wake up with plenty of time to get ready for the day, make your way to the kitchen to prepare a simple breakfast to sit and enjoy with a delicious coffee to savor after eating? Dining is a chance to relax and recharge and the details makes all the difference to living well. I eat three meals day and prepare them with nutritious fresh foods meticulously seasoned and cooked for maximum pleasure for the senses. Everything from the smell, the look and then the taste is simply pleasing. I also sit down at a table to enjoy my meals which are served on real plates eaten with real utensils along with a cloth napkin and a real glass of water and sometimes wine (no plastic or paper). I also enjoy my meals with music, even at work I make sure to leave my desk to go my lunch in the lunchroom or outside while listening to music or enjoying conversations with work friends. I take my time eating and enjoy this time to replenish and dine well. I do not rush, I do not stand, I do not eat subpar foods. Food is our very life and health and it is community and culture. This is the first and easiest place to start living well everyday to make life more pleasurable.
In the end we all do the same things, it is only the details in how we do them that makes the difference. You can see this difference from person to person and you can probably tell just by looking at them and paying attention if they are living well in their everyday lives or not. There is no need to wait till one day when to start living our best life now, it just takes some time and effort to curate what feels and looks good for us. The one thing that the French have taught me about living well everyday is that it is accessible to anyone who puts in the effort to do so.