Joie de vivre or the joy of life is one of my core values. Back in December of last year my life coach, Nancy* ( largely responsible for me consciously knowing my core values) requested that I take joie de vivre as my buddy for the week. She even suggested I use compassion and creativity (also core values) to bring about happiness and vitality. Since it was the holiday season, a time when I usually lose my mind and soul in details, I found the idea of cultivating joy, rather than mania, appealing.
I started thinking about what joie de vivre means. It seemed to me to be a vivid way to experience life. Taking the bland routines and adding some spice. A shift from one foot in front of the other to dancing without looking at your feet. Two images came to mind as perfect examples of living joyfully outside of expectations.
The first was a scene from the Minnesota State Fair. My family and I were piled up with twenty other eager, bright-eyed people on a tiny sidewalk island waiting to cross congested Snelling Avenue. We were on our way in to the fair. We were relatively carb free and sporting fresh sunscreen. The other side of Snelling supported heat dazed, cheese curd stuffed, families wearing sleeping children. They were on their way out of the fair. Both sides impatiently waited for the go ahead to cross from a white gloved officer in the middle of the street. Traffic was bumper to bumper. Drivers were eager to arrive but frustrated by difficult parking or eager to leave but held up by transportation bottlenecks. It was hot and everyone would have understood if the traffic cop lost his cool and blew his whistle non-stop or yelled at unfocused drivers, but no this officer was dancing in the street. He wasn’t just doing a two-step; his large John Goodman body reveled in rump-shaking. His big behind bumped up and down then retracted as he leaned back and shimmied his arms and chest. He shuffled from side to side and laughed as he guided everyone to genuine smiles.
Another love of life moment was relayed to me by Katy, a friend and former writing classmate. Katy found herself one day excused from a college class in order to attend a somewhat private luncheon with his royal highness the Dalai Lama. Joining Katy was a friend of hers, a tall, manly-man once drafted into the NHL. They, along with a hundred other lucky participants, breathed in awe and reverence as the global spiritual leader, whose self-proclaimed religion is kindness, was praised and honored during the lengthy meal. At the closing of the luncheon, all were silent as the Dalai Lama and his entourage exited the room. As the esteemed group in draping red robes passed the table where Katy and her friend sat, the Dalai Lama stopped. In a moment of pure spontaneity, he stuck his two pointer fingers into the ribs of the NHL player and wiggled them around while squealing Hoo, hoo, hoo!
Using those images as touchstones for joie de vivre I began to fulfill Nancy’s request. Being a dutiful student, I was highly motivated by the fact that I would have to report to her the following week. I did not want to fail at joy. So I found myself saying yes to baking cookies AND making hot chocolate for the kids. I chose thoughtful holiday gifts for relatives after leisurely perusing through catalogs (inspiring for me). I bought a notebook with Michael Jackson on the cover – just because I think he’s cool. I picked the brighter lipstick rather than the more conservative. I made sure we made a trip to the local sledding hill. All of this brought a lightness into our world, but my favorite moment of play came the morning I woke the kids up wearing a clown nose. Instead of being grumpy about going to school, they giggled and shook their heads at my goofiness. I felt ease wash over us. Everywhere possible I fit in moments of fun for fun’s sake. What developed was a carefree atmosphere for everyone, even me, the one pushing and arranging the frivolity. Sure the holidays were still hectic but the joy gave my tired mind a break and my spirit a lift. More importantly, I figured out it’s possible to be joyful without engineering the whole thing. I only have to notice the opportunities and instances. I couldn’t wait to tell Nancy.
How much joie de vivre can you stand? Have a blast finding out.:)
I’d love to hear about your flair for living.
*Nancy Okerlund of IntrovertEnergy.com
I would love to inform you of updates on space2live. Please click on EMAIL UPDATES WOOHOO! on the right hand side of the homepage. 🙂