Where’s My Joie de vivre?

Joie de vivre is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life, an exultation of spirit. It “can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert’s Dictionnaire says “joie” is sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one’s whole being.” (from Wikipedia)

The phrase popped in my head as I was about to head out to the gym (I know, that’s kind of like a humblebrag).

When I go to the gym, I am like a robot. I go through the exact same set of exercises, in the same order, with the goal of seeing how quickly I can finish my workout. If someone is on one of the machines that I want to use, I get slightly annoyed.

It hit me that I usually go to the gym out of a sense of obligation. I know exercise is like a magic pill with so many benefits, but it seems like I don’t get much joy out of it.

I then realized I treat many other parts of my life like this.

  • I know for many people, eating is a big part of their life. They enjoy prepping, trying different foods, watching cooking shows, etc. For me, most times, eating is just another job to get done, to get the necessary nutrients in my body. Much like the gym, the quicker I can get the whole process done, the better.
  • Blogging-related activities often take up to two to three hours per day between writing, reading, and commenting. Many days I feel like I keep looking at the time on my computer while I am doing these activities to see how long it is taking. Again, where’s the Joie de vivre?
  • Our semester starts on Monday, and one of the first things I did was to check how long it is until the first break (we’re off a week later for Martin Luther King Day, and then Spring Break is the week of Feb. 28). I’ve started counting down how many semesters it is until I think I might retire (it’s a slightly moving target). Fortunately, I enjoy my job, but it seems like I’m always looking ahead to when I won’t be doing it…
  • When I read a book or watch TV, I sometimes start thinking about what else I could/should be doing.

As I thought about these things, I tried to come up with some reasons for such behavior. For not enjoying the moment.

You would think that perhaps my rush to finish my workouts or my meals might mean that there is something better for me to do with my time, and that I can’t wait to get to it.

Maybe it’s so I could enjoy my leisure time more, like reading and watching TV. But as I noted before, when I do those things, sometimes my mind is elsewhere.

And then it hit me. My Joie de vivre is my family. Simply spending time with my wife and three sons is where I find the most joy in my life.

While I may not get much enjoyment out of my actual meal, eating together is a high point in my day.

And it’s the same with TV. While I may be thinking about what else I could be doing, if I’m watching it with family, I realize there is no better use of my time.

The same goes for walks, playing games, doing video chats, going out to dinner. When such activities are done with my family, I am at my happiest.

So while I may not find Joie de vivre in everything I do, the most significant part of my life brings me a good dose of it.

But now that I am aware of my behavior towards many things I do, I can start to look for the Joie de vivre in them. My sense is that’s a big part of what mindfulness is about.

Who knows. I might even start to enjoy some of the vegan meals I wolf down…

*image from Connected Women

P.S. This post took me 55 minutes to write and edit (yes, despite how it may appear, there was some basic editing that took place) 🙂

P.P.S. I used the phrase Joie de vivre 10 times in this post (12 times if you count the tag and the URL). Were you sick of reading it by the time you finished?

59 thoughts on “Where’s My Joie de vivre?

  1. It can be tricky business, trying to find joie de vivre in the things we do. I think mindfulness can help. But so can things like good health, good company, slowing down one’s pace, being philosophical about setbacks, and so forth. In other words, there are many tools available. The trick seems to be in finding the most effective tool for the current moment.

    And by the way, I didn’t get sick of the phrase.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Family should be the source of the joy of life. Yes, you used the term often enough but I thought that was the teacher in you, using repetition to try to get us to recall the phrase for a future test.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. If something makes me feel good then that my definition of joke de vivre. And like you, a lot of joy comes from spending time with my family. We enjoy doing comfortable things such as experiencing a good meal together. Sometimes joie de vivre comes from doing something as simple as finishing a challenging jigsaw puzzle all by myself.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Maybe once I see some improvments with my current routine, I’ll start mixing things up a bit.

      and that’s what I need to do, just focus on the moment and find joy in what I am doing…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the things that changed for me right after I retired was exactly what you’re describing. I loved my career, but teaching and kids were always on my mind, even during the weekend or summer. I was always thinking about what I needed to get done instead of thoroughly enjoying whatever I was doing. It is so free to wake up and not worry about everything I need to get done.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I agree with brad and pete, as I love what I do each and every day for work, and it is one of the parts of my life that brings me joy, but of course look forward to breaks, snow days and federal holidays off. school and the kids and families are very often in the back of my mind even when I’m on break, so I do look forward to not having a mandatory daily schedule one day. as brad said, we should all strive to look for and recognize what brings us this joy and I’ve found quite a few and that brings me joy just thinking about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. LIke you, I get my Joie de vivre (first time I ever wrote that, and actually I copy and pasted one of yours) from time with my family. But I also get it from writing. I really enjoy the process of writing. Although I only write when I feel like it and I don’t really feel an obligation to write. I get no Joie de vivre (paste) from watching the stats. That just agitates the crap out of me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. it’s a great phrase, in my opinion.

      and we are both lucky to find such happiness with your families. checking my stts sometimes brings me joy, and sometimes they frustrate me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is indeed❣️And notice when you feel an adrenaline lift …. The first bead of sweat …. The ease of your leg muscles …. Congratulate yourself at how well you are doing this….

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well said, Jim. I like your thinking, and I feel (and act) much the same way. My greatest joy is the children at school, especially when reading aloud, or when a ‘moment’ presents itself.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Actually, I think it is the reverse. The joie de vivre, that joy and passion comes first, and after a while it becomes your purpose, your raison detre (I don’t know how to type the fancy thingies.) I always love your thinking, Jim.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Not really… my last semester started July 1 and I didn’t do anything till the 2nd week of Dec and got nothing graded till this semester. And that’s happened twice before! I should have gotten my degree more than a year ago but I still have a year to go.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll admit it is hard to get motivated to do things when you don’t find joy in them. but some things still need to be done. Like paying bills…


      3. I don’t usually use credit but did so by accident in Oct or Nov – didn’t realize my default Prime payment switched from bank to credit and, seeing money still in my account, went a little nuts. Then $1,000 in routine vet bills, property taxes, and tuition. I’ll be back to only basic bills (utilities and insurance) next month.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I had so many things I wanted to comment on, like how I don’t enjoy cooking but loved eating, or that when I’m doing something else I keep wandering back to my books, but then you smack me with what truly is the joy in you life and damn that hit me straight to the heart 💘

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What an insightful post. I like it. It’s the second one that I read in a single sitting about small joys in life (well, at least that’s what I got from it). You are quite lucky with your gym that you are able to work out in a similar pattern every time. November – May I have to cross my fingers to even finish my routine because of how many people there are, occupying every machine. The thing is that I get on, do my reps, get out. I always keep moving. While other people sit down, set their music, check their phone, relax, do a couple of exercises, take a break… it’s as if they were trying to have sex with that machine after such lengthy foreplay. Sometimes I just have to throw in the towel and go home without doing it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. So I kind of know how you feel about the blogging maintenance! Lol… if you miss a day or two you’ve got at least an hour to catch up on! But still, it’s been enjoyable and that’s where I get my inspiration too! Eating is never a chore to me, I loveeeee fooood 🙂 especially breadddd 😀 It’s getting out of hand!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. yes, blogging sometimes is a double-edged sward. it’s fun to engage through reading and commenting, but somedays it can take a significant amount of time to do so…

      I do enjoy bread as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Like Bossy babe…I enjoy my food if you don’t maybe it’s a man thing or maybe vegan meals are boring…I agree about family time but I also (sad) that I am getting joie de vivre from researching and writing it up…:) x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I enjoy certain foods as well, but it seems like many people I know love everything about the food, beyond the eating part…

      and no need to apologize where you find your joie de vivre!

      Liked by 1 person

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