I was reading a book about the last Tsar of Russia who was executed along with his family and those that worked in his house by the Communist party. Much of the words used in his letters were french and Russian. The book itself is in English but some of the words used really intrigued me (if you are interested the book is called “The Kitchen boy” . Sorry I am digressing as always, so the word Joie de vivre came about in one of the letters, and it intrigued me. The definition of joie de vivre is: keen or buoyant enjoyment of life, one radiates a vitalizing energy, the zest and gaiety of an inexhaustible joie de vivre. Most of these definitions are lovely but I wanted to put the word into context…
Joie de vivre is translated into English literally as “life enjoyment” or “utter enjoyment” of life. This happens when one doesn’t have any worries albeit now or the future, one loves life as it is and for what it is, one feels the happiness that shines upon him/her day in and day out. This can be in just being there, or in eating, reading, drinking, meeting people, knowing new things or in reading a book (the list can be as long as you like it to be).
So how many people have I met that Joie de vivre fits them like a glove? well zero.
let me start, if we have no worries at all, then we are surprised by that, we often find the worries, and pull them towards us and yank them by the throat. we want to be unhappy, we are not content and never find the joy of living. some people do have part of this joy, but till today I haven’t found that one individual who is so content in life to the extent that I can say he or she are the representative of Joie de vivre.
What can we do then? as you know we had lived a year and few months in an unprecedented pandemic, many of our relatives and friends had suffered or/and died. Life can be so sorrowful and bereaved, we can lose lives as well as livelihood, we can be put in prison without a mistake or with the slightest mistake, we can fail exams, we can be in a problematic relationships and we I can go on with problems that will prevent us from fulfilling life’s enjoyments. We must remember though that bad times will falways be followed with good times, as we can never have only punishment.
If you reflect on life, you will find a mix of feelings, in any given day you can be happy, upset, dangerous, regretful, having an utter fun time, can be driving and swear at the person who almost pumped your car (but he or she didn’t, you swerved, remember) so are you telling me that your day of a total 24 hours was full of sorrows? I guess not. In between you spoke with your child, had a great kiss from your spouse, made a splendid meal, and had a candle lit dinner. I agree that a “completment joie de vivre” (this is a french sentence) may not be possible, but a half day of enjoyment is possible. We only need not magnify the bad and reduce the size of the good to an almost zero just because we have learnt to nag our entire lives.
Next time, I would like you to take a piece of paper, put a line in the middle, write on the right side “sorrows”, and on the left side “happiness” and just make a diary of both feelings, I am not a gambler, but I do bet you that you will surpass the sorrows if you started to feel those happy times
I wish you a Joie de vivre