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France, the landmark of romance and home to sweet, buttery pastries, wheels of cheese and crisp, clean, aromatic wines. The French indulge in a life of luxuries and that is not to refer to on the surface, superficial components such as draping themselves in copious amounts of designer wear from head to toe for lunch with the girlfriends at Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th Arrondissement. The luxuries referred to are factors such as relishing good quality food and wine, developing and carrying a strong sense of national pride and enjoying life in general otherwise in French known as ‘Art de Vivre’, which translates as the ‘Art of living.’

Factors which contribute to the pinnacle of personal satisfaction and happiness is subjective person to person however, we believe there is a lesson to be learnt from the French lifestyle and by practising the art de vivre may just see a shift in perspectives and walk through a new chamber of light.

It begins with a window

As theatrical as it may seem in French soap operas, television shows and French-themed movies, elaborately expanding two panels of wood against its creaky hinges to embrace the outside air is a common notion carried out by the French as part of a morning ritual. Despite being a sight for sore eyes for some, this ostentatious gesture is a great way to welcome the new day on an affirmative and positive note all the while serving as an act of self-meditation, gearing yourself for the new challenges and events today may hold.

Learning to acknowledge the new day in this manner will find yourself firstly, anticipating the goodness of the new day as well as a relieved wave of freshness in being able to try again, learn and most importantly, improve yourself without being clouded with the bitterness of yesterday’s mistakes. Shifting the focus to the present and the now is a concept we often forget as humans hold a natural tendency to dwell and when we dwell, we zone into a cuboid of everything that is going wrong, blocked out and neglecting the things that are going right so by implementing this gesture into your morning routine, you may just receive a delivery of small surprises.

Enjoy regular holi-yay!

Similar to other European countries, the French are no exception to the ‘summer is a time for holidays’ rule. In France, under the employment law, French employees are entitled to five full weeks of paid holidays. This generous offering is imposed to encourage the French to unwind, relax and reconnect with family as well as yourself and to discover the unexplored. Being wrung too tight and constricted with mountains of work with little to no time-to-self is a vicious cycle and carries the possibility of driving the mind, soul and physical body into a state of weariness, fatigue and collapse. Not to mention, the quality of work that is ejected under such circumstances will most likely not be of desirable optimum quality. Release the mind, body and soul and take regular breaks in order to allow yourself a balanced lifestyle between work and leisure.

Quality over quantity

As discussed earlier, the French indulge in the small luxuries in life and of course, needless to say, quality of food is monumental to the French. Shopping at the local supermarket is a convenience and a luxury to the individuals who have finally dragged themselves across the workday yet despite having a wheel of options available in one place under one roof, food pollutants such as preservatives, added flavourings and food-enhancers are factors the French consider as a culture of ‘soul and body devastation.’

The French keep to heart the concept of ‘you are what you eat’ so they remain on high alert on the foods that pass their mouths because mealtime is beyond satisfying hunger, it is a routine that carries life-enhancing features such as improvement of the neurological functions as well as a boost inactiveness and energy. Otherwise known as mindful eating, learn to explore local food markets and pick up a habit of home cooking, exploring and experimenting with local recipes drizzling a spritz of lemon juice and olive oil over fresh-diced salmon tartar, finished with a sprinkle of chive. Cooking also carries therapeutic benefits, proven to help individuals unwind and release the mind from the distractions of life.

Take a digital cleanse

The modern age is currently witnessing a widespread plague of ‘mobile-phone zombies.’ As we become increasingly attached to the mobile phones carrying instant access to messages from friends across the globe, work emails and calls at the tap of a few virtual buttons, it has become increasingly important to take time out and away from our electronic gadgets to realign self-focus and purpose.

Having acknowledged this tendency, the French have recently passed a law for French workers to disconnect from work by having a digital cleanse, going off the grid for the weekend and in the absence of electronic gadgets, to engage in the true essence of ‘art de vivre’ through relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, hiking, practising different breathing techniques and eating and drinking mindfully.

Flower Power

Did you know pollen-producing buds of flora carry mood-boosting powers? At Earth.com, they have discovered this to be true. Take a sunny afternoon stroll down a French promenade, eclipsed between towers of terraces, you will find baskets of home-grown flowers festooned along the metal railings of the window balconies. The French believe in connecting with nature at every opportunity and by adorning their desks and apartments with small vases of fresh blooms, a smile and happiness is achieved, even if they give us muddy fingers!