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The Art of Slow Living: Embracing the French Approach to Joy and Leisure

Whether you live in France, America, or elsewhere, you’ve likely heard someone utter the phrase, ‘joie de vivre.’ It means to have the exuberant enjoyment of life. To be cheerful and light-hearted and enjoy the splendor that every day brings. It’s also a phrase that summarizes how the French live a more mindful and balanced lifestyle where it’s not all about work. Instead, it’s about living life to the fullest.

If your daily routine is more hectic than you’d like and you want to learn to enjoy your life differently, do as the French do.

Make It A Point To Enjoy Life

To enjoy a joie de vivre lifestyle, you first need to have a work-life balance and the intention to relax and spend time doing the things you love. If you’re constantly at work and doing overtime and you get home exhausted every day, you will not only be unable to relax, but you could also experience burnout. While having a good work ethic is excellent, spending time on your mental and physical well-being is necessary, which you can do by being with family, going for walks, or enjoying your favorite sport.

If you want to live like the French and enjoy a more relaxed routine, you must do so with intention. Tell your boss that you can only do so much overtime. If you still have difficulty relaxing, set an alarm at the end of each workday that tells you it’s time to leave. Turn your computer off and get out of the house for a while and have some fun.

happy healthy girl smiling

Set SMART Goals

Another way to intentionally set aside time for joy and leisure is to write SMART goals. The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Basically, you’re creating a specific goal that is measurable and realistic to achieve within a certain amount of time.

An example SMART goal could be that you intend to attend the street fair on Main Street on July 4th and that you’ll spend at least an hour preparing for and enjoying the festivities. Another basic goal could be to spend at least one hour a day outside in the backyard with your kids, and you’ll ensure your success by blocking out the time each day and setting up a reminder on your phone. Think about the activities you imagine in your own joie de vivre lifestyle and create goals so you’re sure to enjoy them.

Try Relaxing Hobbies

The next step is finding enjoyable hobbies that help you slow down and enjoy what you do. If you’re unsure how to let go and relax, do as the French do.

One of the really big hobbies in France is attending the cinema. They love it because it’s a chance to leave their problems behind as they enter a dark theater and escape into another world. Similarly, there’s a chance to enjoy new discoveries by visiting a museum and viewing all the amazing art. Look at a picture, let it take you away, and think about how it inspires you and our world.

Reading is another beloved pastime in France because a good book can also transport you to another world and let your worries slip away. If you don’t like novels, try a poetry collection or even a graphic novel. Reading during your lunch break at work is a great way to free your mind, de-stress, and explore a different reality for a while.

Wherever you live, there is bound to be a forest, park, or wooded area where you can take a hike alone or with friends and decompress. Spending time in nature is beneficial for your physical and mental health, to the point where doctors are prescribing it to alleviate symptoms from anxiety and depression and help offset some of the complications that can arise from a sedentary lifestyle.

health wellness happy woman legs background eiffel tower

Photo by Fran The Now Time

Learn To Savor Your Meals

You can also embrace the French approach to joy and leisure when it comes to the food you eat. When many people are hungry, they run to fast food or rummage through the pantry without thinking about their health. Instead, be like the French. They don’t snack often. Instead, they’re intentional about their meals. By dedicating yourself to a slower lifestyle, you can prepare your meals with nutrition in mind as you focus on each ingredient. Then, by taking your time and savoring each bite, you’ll enjoy your meals much more.

The basic definition of nutrition is what you eat and drink, but it also involves considering how you nourish your body. Consider the essential nutrients we all need, including vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber. Find a way to incorporate them into tasty and healthy dishes, and you’ll appreciate your food much more. The same goes for the primary food groups. When you slow down and create a meal that includes fruit, vegetables, grains, and more, you can enjoy the taste and what the meal does for your body so much more.

You can combine activity with good food by walking through your neighborhood to check out the new eateries in your neighborhood. Sit on the patio, enjoy your meal, and read a good book. It’s the definition of relaxation, and it’s an incredible feeling.


There’s a lot that you can learn from the French when it comes to slowing down and enjoying the pleasantries of life. By taking things down a notch, you can really see the beauty of the world and be happier because of it.

Header Photo Credit: Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash


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