Spending the past two weeks in Paris with some of my grandchildren gave me the opportunity to observe and enjoy the playfulness, rich lifestyle and pure pleasure the French take in their daily lives. It is a culture devoted to beauty, tradition and pleasure. I hoped it would inspire my life coaching in DC, but I may have underestimated how much. I am more excited than ever to return home with my “French lessons” in mind.
For the French, the human experience is more about being than doing. Coming from the other side of the pond – and our success-driven DC culture specifically – I’m more aware than ever of the American messages to go bigger, harder, stronger. The French mindset is a refreshing perspective. We can achieve our goals in life … but we can also appreciate the journey. Call it what you will: taking time to smell the roses, being present in the moment. It’s the whole point of living an exceptional, meaningful life.
Here are five take-aways that I’ll be bringing to my coaching:
1. Slow Down. Walk by a French cafe and you won’t see people frantically texting on smart phones. Instead you will see them sipping a cafe creme, savoring a croissant, reading and talking animatedly with a friend. With the American focus on productivity and over-scheduled lives, maybe we should take a moment to breathe, create a ritual for ourselves to relax and set aside some unstructured time doing what we love to do. Whether it is drinking good coffee, painting or reading, this time can be restorative on many levels.
2. Enjoy Life & Good Food. The French seem to have their cake and eat it too. Are they genetically gifted? I don’t think so! They appreciate the art of fine dining. They savor fresh vegetables, ripe fruit, bread from the oven, wine from local vineyards and critique each meal with an artist’s eye.
3. Move More. The common myth is that French people don’t exercise, and it’s true that you won’t find many Parisians jogging. But the truth is that the French do exercise … a lot! … because it’s part of their lifestyle. They are less sedentary, drive less, walk a lot, take the stairs, play games, swim and dance. Movement is a way of life, not something they drive to the gym for. While I won’t be soon giving up my morning lap swim ritual, this trip reinforced my belief that moving my body is a gift that I appreciate and indulge in daily.
4. Stress Less. In DC in many circles, “stress” is a badge of honor. Living a busy, harried and frazzled life is somewhat endearing. The ideal is a brainy, conflicted, even neurotic persona, like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally or Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Many women with no clinical issues spend a lot of time in therapy, but still don’t feel particularly great about themselves. In contrast, my Parisian friends are calm, discreet and decisive. They have frustrations and disappointments like the rest of us, but always carve out time to appreciate the simple pleasures of being with friends and family and enjoying good food. It was contagious being with others who don’t apologize for truly enjoying themselves.
5. Simplify. Why do the French seem to have more time to enjoy life? In part they haven’t inundated themselves with massive debt, too much “stuff” and over-booked calendars. The simpler your life, the richer it becomes. This trip reminded me to keep paring down, to simplify and create a life of meaning. A legacy for my grandchildren is to value the joy found in simple pleasures.
If you feel you’re in a rat race, on a hamster wheel – when you’re going through the motions and not really living your life – the hardest step is committing to change and focusing on what brings you true joy. If you are craving an exceptional life full of joy and fulfillment, consider working with me through Life Coaching. With the right tools, navigated conversations and the intention to create something great, you can discover ways to live your best life. Let’s get started now on identifying what you want and find a way to get you there.
Contact me for a complimentary, no-obligations life coaching consultation to discuss the possibilities. Or use the Appointment Scheduler and pick a time that works for you. I coach 90% of my clients over the phone, and my DC-based Life Coaching clients have the option of meeting with me in person.