Mastering the Art of Joie de Vivre

One French phrase we all often hear is joie de vivre. There is something so poetic about the nature of the term in French, that it just doesn’t feel the same translating into another language. The “joy of living” doesn’t have that same feeling, able to imply the philosophy and art that joie de vivre encompasses. I’ve come to understand over the years joie de vivre is as much a part of Lancôme as it is a part of French culture on the whole because to both, happiness is beautiful. It’s about cultivating joy, living slowly, and appreciating things big and small.

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The French have taught me well in my nearly nine years here, but in more recent years there seems to be some international speculation that the French have lost their joie de vivre. I assure you, anyone who tries to tell you so is very wrong. Sure, the French also have a humorous reputation of complaining, about work or whatever may rub them the wrong way in the current state of the world. But therein lies the magic of French joie de vivre — it’s true essence is deeply personal, individual and apart from the greater problems of the world, a sort of precious space of mind and way of living that brings one back to the things that matter, the things before your own eyes in the here and now. And so here is what joie de vivre means to me and many of the French so that you too can see that la vie est belle...

Take your time. Ah yes, the proverbial stop and smell the roses. But the French really take this to heart. They lunch longer and drink slower for one. They’ll rarely speed down the highway, or run to catch a train or a bus. One comes to understand when they stop rushing around, that there is very little reason in life to actually do so. So much effort and stress for very little gain. The French know that slowing down allows one to appreciate and live in each moment more fully.

Live seasonally. When it comes to food and festivities, the French are masters of living seasonally. Embracing something different about each season means there is always something to look forward to, even in cold and grey winter month s there are annual trips to the snow, holiday parties to throw, raclette to cook and so on.

Put friends and family above all. The French know what’s really important in life, and that friends and family always come first over work and other mundane responsibilities. This may be annoying for those who want to call on people late at the office, but it’s one of the greatest things about life in France. The French love having big families and have very active social lives because they make time for both.

Surround yourself with beauty. When it comes to design, the French will rarely put function over form. They believe living a life that is aesthetically beautiful is not just nice, but essential to happiness. They seek out beauty in their everyday lives, from their homes to their vast appetite for culture-enjoying art, theater, dance and more. They find beauty in small things like reveling in the smell of a beautiful fragrance and so on.

Find the humor in things. Some people misinterpret this as the French being negative, but the reality is that the French can find humor in almost everything. They don’t worry too much about being politically correct or stepping on someone else’s toes, they speak freely and have perfected the art of teasing people, not to be mean but rather as a sign of affection and reminder not to take anything too seriously in life and that there is always cause for laughter.

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