“Joie de Vivre” is an all-encompassing joy of conversation, eating, anything and everything. It has even been described as a philosophy of life. So, what happens when pressures and responsibilities start to eclipse that carefree attitude?

If you find yourself overshadowed by a weight of obligation, if you are someone who lives life according to tasks completed on their to do list, if you feel like a hamster on the wheel of duty, then do not waste another moment: take a breath and read on.

Here is how to draw inspiration from the French (i.e. classic French stereotypes) and get re-acquainted with your inner joy.

Savour simple pleasures

A morning stroll to collect your baguette from the boulangerie; coffee, croissant and the papers at the neighbourhood café; a leisurely half hour on a park bench watching the beau monde pass by; the citrus scent of lemon squeezed over a fresh green salad enjoyed with the remains of the morning baguette and some oozing unctuous delicious cheese: simple pleasures such as these are often the most intense and rewarding.

Photo by Clementina Toso on Unsplash

Do more with less

Do you really need three black jackets and five pairs of jeans? I thought I did until we moved into a tiny cottage and I had to move 80% of my stuff into a stable. It’s still there six months after we put it there (in addition to kitchen equipment, a massive dining table, lamps, scatter cushions and array of other baggage). I no longer remember the contents the stable because I don’t miss any of it.

Photo by Priscilla Do Preez on Unsplash

Get outside

One thing that strikes me whenever I’m in France is how much goes on outside: eating, drinking, shopping, kissing. They seem more active in a less full on, “Have I done my 10,000 steps yet?” kind of way. Since getting a dog during Lockdown last year, I’ve really noticed the difference being outside twice a day to walk him has made. It’s great to move, and even greater to clear my head while I laugh at the dog and forget my to-do list for a while.

Photo by Sophie Neilan

Be more cultured

The French are proud of their cultural heritage – and rightly so. They have made a huge contribution to the world of art, theatre, literature, poetry, philosophy, architecture and music. That is because they are involved in it with a passion. Whether it be a trip to a gallery or a trawl around the back room of a local brocante, culture is food for the French soul.

Photo by Barthelemy de Mazenod on Unsplash

Look after yourself

How is it that our image of French women (and men) is one of such effortless chic? Is it the understated neutral wardrobe: the classic trench, the Breton stripe, the LBD? Or is it the essence of that other celebrated French expression, “bien dans sa peau”. Literally translated, it means to feel “good in one’s skin”: free to enjoy your own sensuality. The French are not afraid of indulging themselves from time to time. I think the rest of us would benefit if we did the same.

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash