The enjoyment of life, an exultation of spirit; the deliciousness of doing something you love for the simple enjoyment of it. Carl Jung expressed joie de vivre as a side affect of self-realization. He called it “the quiet joy in being one’s self…a spontaneous relaxed enjoyment.”
It can be the joy of connecting with another and the simple flow of conversation, the joy of eating a delectable desert or sipping wine on a summer patio, or the joy of trying something new. The French seemed to have perfected it as a way of living, curating it as a philosophy of life. Joie de vivre I believe, is the opposite of feeling heavy or weighted down and is exactly what I am needing and wanting to bring more of in my life.
One of my teachers recently talked about the tendency we have of letting go of all the good stuff - the things that brings us joy, contentment, and a sense of wellbeing. We pile on our plates many things and before we know it, we drop the yoga, the meditation, the walk or run in the forest, the massage, the meeting a friend for tea. What remains on our plates is a pile of seemingly never ending work, responsibilities, monotonous tasks, and the belief this is really all we have time for. We think, one day we will get around to having fun, relaxing, and truly enjoying our lives. Yes, perhaps one day.
I must admit I am just as guilty as the other. Lately, I have not been as committed to my yoga practice as I would like nor have I made the time to have friends over at my new home. I can’t remember the last massage I had. And I haven’t gone for that mountain bike ride I’ve been wanting to for over a month.
When we dish all the good things off our plate-the fun stuff, I wonder then, what exactly are we living for anyway? Yes we may have rewarding careers and fulfilling volunteer work. This is a necessary and wonderful part of life. But living is not just about work and serving others. You know the saying, fill your cup first, let it overflow, and from that spilling over state is where you truly give. I am not talking hours and hours of time here. Just setting an intention, taking the time to do something daily- even forty five minutes, and filling your plate (or the proverbial cup) with delicious and enjoyable experiences.
Equally important as doing the things we love, is to allow awareness to flow into the body and senses-to fully take it in. How are we feeling when we are doing it- are we feeling centered, happy, grateful or has it become another chore or task to check off the list? I’ve noticed sometimes when I am doing something I enjoy like sweating and pushing my body in boot camp (yes, I know I am one of the crazy ones-I actually enjoy physical exercise) if I am not mindful and in the moment, I rush through it just to get it done and move on to the next thing. It is important to pause, soak up the sensations, and allow for the embodiment of what we are experiencing.
The work can be hard, the road long, and everyday filled with responsibilities. Toss some of life’s challenges onto your plate-a separation, illness, job loss, or financial strain, and you have a recipe for dis-ease, imbalance, or depletion. Perhaps when we take the time regularly, if not daily, to fill ourselves up with what we love and enjoy, when life dishes us a heaping challenge, we have something to fall back on, we are not riding on empty.
So I’ve declared June is joie de vivre month. I will do the things I love. I will try something new. I will let what I enjoy cascade over my life and feel the surge of energy, joy, and sense of aliveness that comes when I do. Whatever length of time I have, I will commit to doing something I love EVERY DAY with zealous awareness and deep appreciation, knowing I only have this one unique life and darn it - no apologies- I plan to enjoy it!