I envy Europeans for their love of life and food and midafternoon naps and wine and . . . all that makes one smile. Yet costs very little. Here's some ideas to bring that European mind-set to temper our American workaholism:
1. Have a picnic. Inside, outside, lobster or PB&J, enjoy every bite. Sit outside at your favorite spot. If inside on a chilly winter day, before a lit fireplace and watch the light dance or, if it is Christmastime, in front of the jeweled tree. Eat slowly, enjoy conversing with your lunch buddy. Maybe have grape juice or purple Kool-Aid in a wine glass to make it special.
2. Eat by candlelight. Again, it can be over steaks or scrambled eggs.
3. Take a leisurely soak in the tub. Complete with bubbles and fragrant body oils and light those special candles you keep saving "for a holiday or other celebration" and take your favorite drink with you and that book you've been meaning to read and set aside an hour. Remember to add the bath pillow!
4. For you ladies, designate each day of the week for a beauty ritual or other pampering. Like a manicure on Mondays, a pedicure on Tuesdays, a face mask on Wednesdays, a seaweed wrap on Thursdays, a baking soda bath to detox on Fridays, an exfoliation on Saturdays, and for Sundays, how about the Doris Day soft-hands-and-feet technique? Slather on your favorite cream or oil and don cloth gloves and cotton socks and sleep on it.
5. For those of you lucky enough to own a hammock, use it! We are being hit hard in my neck of Texas with mosquitoes and I serve as a mosquito warning alarm. I know when the first one hits our area. So, if you share this tendency with me, don the Avon Skin So Soft lotion or, like my stepdad, take sulphur shots from your doctor.
6. Spend at least fifteen minutes outside in the sunny atmosphere of your backyard or a local park. Sit and drink coffee. Read a chapter from a book. Feed the birds or ducks. Try to relax for at least ten minutes before you jump up to weed your yard. I'm still working on that.
7. Take a walk after meals. Even a leisurely stroll with a friend gets the digestion moving along. Plus there is something so basically therapeutic about being out of doors. Fresh air, sunshine, even dirt all have their health benefits, for body and mind and emotions.
8. The Bible speaks of not letting your anger continue after the sun goes down. That gives the devil a foothold. Remember, Jesus got mad--he overturned the moneychangers' tables in the synagogue. He called the pharisees "white-washed tombs." But He never sinned, so he must have released His anger by sundown. So should we. Talk to the person who offended you, whether on purpose or not knowingly. If not, write them a letter and then burn it. Confession is good for the soul. Our souls. Like forgiveness is for us, not the person who wronged us.
9. Do something you have been putting off. Just for fifteen minutes. If it is that horrible stash of trash in your garage, toss as much away in your garbage bins as you can in a quarter hour. Do this for seven days and you'll be amazed how little time it took to remove that blot from both your home and your mind.
10. Aim for peace. When your mind and your actions are in conflict, you cannot have peace. Make decisions that are in agreement with every level that makes you who you are--your mind, your heart, your soul, your emotions. You'll enjoy life so much more.
Hope just one, if not more, of these resonates within you and prods you to happier living each day from now on.
How about you? Any suggestions?