Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thriving through Transitions

For many years now, I have been intrigued (some might say obsessed) by the French term …JOIE DE VIVRE.  Sure, I understand the literal translation is “joy of life”.  What’s elusive to me, though, are the nuts and bolts of just how someone lives their life in the flow of “joie de vivre”.

Granted, I’ve never felt more joyful, ageless and present as during a sweet visit to France back in 2000.  But in all honesty, I thought that had everything to do with being on vacation with the best of friends, lots of wine and fabulous food!  As it turns out, those are the superficial, more marketed, outward signs of “Joie de Vivre”.  As I later discovered, “Joie de Vivre” is more about sustainability and one’s attitude towards daily living.  It is an attitude that is free from the constraints of money, trappings and social pressures.

Janie Cat Callan writes in her book  Bonjour, Happiness  …”I think of joie de vivre as optimism about one’s life and the ability to enjoy what you have without worrying too much about what you don’t.”  Her interview with Isabelle, a Frenchwoman living in Paris revealed…”Joie de Vivre is about loving life, loving people, loving to be alive, feeling alive.  It is about smiling, being in your heart and being grateful for all the beautiful things in your life: being in good health, being able to hear, to see, to walk, being grateful for all the lovely and loving people (people we know or strangers we meet), being grateful for the nature surrounding us and all that it gives to us.  It is to be grateful for the mystery of life, and that we are able to live and breathe.”

Ah, now she’s speaking my language!  This statement could have been drafted directly from one of my coaching sessions.  The deeper meaning of “Joie de vivre” requires us to have an element of gratitude and appreciation for the most simple and yet profound beauty and gifts in our everyday life. Adopting an “Attitude of Gratitude” is the third action item on my TRANSITIONS SURVIVAL GUIDE list.  One of the first exercises I do with clients working through a transition is designed to help them get grounded around gratitude.  Nothing will help you to “zoom out” from the intensity and energy around your obstacles like taking stock of your gifts!  Recognizing how grateful you are for the things in your life that are right and beautiful is a good place to start building your strength around dealing with those parts of your life that you’d like to change.

Adopting and practicing “joie de vivre” will move you from surviving to thriving!   There’s a thought.  Maybe I should aim higher and change my TRANSITIONS SURVIVAL GUIDE to THRIVING THROUGH TRANSITIONS with JOIE DE VIVRE….

1.    Take it one step at a time...Process in the present by keeping   your focus short-term through the transition.

2.    Adopt a plan of self-care.  Find one manageable activity that will help you manage your stress and feed your soul every day. 

3.    Develop an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE.  Look for simple things that give you joy and heighten your awareness of the gifts in your life.

4.    Give yourself credit for past victories and for having the courage to meet this current challenge.

5.    Look for "under-utilized resources".  Allow others to help you and give yourself permission to tap into support.

6.    Surround yourself with good role-models.  Be aware of those who have gone before you in this current challenge or role.  Connect with them for advice and support.

7.    Allow your places and sources of Joy to be your inspiration for moving toward your goal.

Encouraging clients to get to know themselves by defining what gives them joy and then creating a clear and detailed picture of their “sweet-spot” has helped me realize that my “joie de vivre” lives in helping them navigate their way to “thriving”.  I’d be honored to make the trip with you.  Give me a call.