My summer has been sweetened by delicious croissants, warm baguettes topped with salty butter, the beautiful French language, nightly strolls on the beach and the priceless feeling of a light breeze of the Mediterranean Sea.
From Strasbourg to Paris to St. Tropez and Ramatuelle, we have been going on short getaways all over France. The trips were rejuvenating, relaxing and empowering, all at the same time.
During our travels, I’ve reminisced about my childhood and my countless summers spent at the Cote d’Azur.
This part of the world often felt like my second home. As much as I’ve felt drawn to the US, the South of France and the Mediterranean way of living have always been just as attractive and alluring to me.
Maybe it’s the Frenchs’ consciousness of their own culture and language and their pride in it – a concept that is still foreign to us Germans.
Maybe it’s the fact that they go on the streets to protest when they feel mistreated and don’t let the authorities get away with everything – a mindset that speaks to my huge sense of justice and equality.
Maybe it’s the beautiful scenery of the Provence, the Cote d’Azur or the vast areas of breathtakingly beautiful fields of sunflowers, my favorite kind of flowers, lavender or poppy.
But most certainly, it’s the Frenchs’ joie de vivre; the simple, basic mindset of living life in the here and now, enjoying each and every day with good food, wine and great company.
OK, so I don’t like wine, but you get the point.
This refusal to let the imaginary sorrows of the tomorrows and the over-complication of life get in the way of experiencing true joy, fulfillment and awe in the now is what captures one of my deepest desires.
The Quest for Joy in Daily Life
I long to achieve this mentality of enjoying the deliciousness of food without hearing the ever-present voices of reprimand and regret.
I long to live close to my circle of friends with whom I can share life now and not in a distant future day.
I long to delve into each day, living it to the full from dawn until dusk without constantly worrying about the future.
I long to find gratefulness and joy in every moment, knowing that the sum of them is what makes a life worth living.
I long to create a life that inspires me every single day instead of focusing on just a few highlights I experience along the way.
I long to rid myself of all the unnecessary busyness and open my mind so widely that no marvel of this world will ever go unnoticed again.
I long to live a life more attune to joy.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that, am I?
As so often, We stand in Our Own Way
And yet, the sad reality is that most of us never achieve this state of relaxation and consciousness and lead miserable lives by making everything more complicated than it needs to be.
Sentences like the following are most likely (very) familiar to you, but they all create a huge barrier in the quest of finding joy.
When I fit into this pair of jeans, then I will finally allow myself to eat a juicy and buttery croissant again.
When I am loved by someone else, then I will stop hating myself and accept my body for what it is.
When I have catered to everybody in my family and my circle of friends, then I will allow myself to relax and take care of my needs.
When I have gotten this promotion, then I will take my much needed vacation and travel to the country of my desire.
When I have this amount of money in the bank, then I will finally chase my dream.
When I’m out of the miserable job/situation/relationship, then I can finally appreciate life and marvel at the world again.
Why not now? Why then? Why so complicated?
Why do we put off living in and with joy for the sake of some wildly guessed future?
Why do we attempt to give partners, circumstances, objects, food and bosses the power to keep us from enjoying every single day of our life on this earth?
Because we’re making it much more complicating than it is.
Finding joy is simpler than we’re making it out to be.
Joy is not about waiting for the perfect moment to act, love, engage or let go, but simply creating it.
Joy is not about reaching bodily perfection, but about embracing the beautiful, glorious shape you were given.
Joy is not about leading a flawless life, but about accepting all the bumps that come along the way.
Joy is not about working your butt off 24/7 to the point of utter exhaustion, but it’s about simply slowing down and allowing ourselves to marvel at the miracles unfolding around us.
It’s simply about finding amazement, gratefulness and inspiration in the blueness of the sky, the beauty of a field of sunflowers, the presence of great friends or a heartfelt bite into a slice of freshly baked baguette with devilishly delicious salty butter.
Joy is about being fully present, not tomorrow, not next week, but right in this very moment.
Joy is already here, you simply have to see it.
It’s simple, really.
How about you? Have you ever been to France and do you share my perception or have you had a different experience? Have you already implemented ways to live in the now more often, to create your perfect moments and to incorporate some joie de vivre into every single day?
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