The Joy Of Living: A How-To

“Joie de vivre” or “The joy of living” is a lifestyle, a devil-may-care attitude, a “C’est la vie” boldness. If we’re not lucky enough to have been born with this sort of mentality, how do we adopt it (even in the most stressful of circumstances)? 

“Joie de vivre” is a French phrase that describes an enjoyment of life, exuberance, and a cheerful outlook. 

“He radiates a vitalizing energy, the zest, and gaiety of an inexhaustible joie de vivre.”

– Robert Kuttner

Practice Gratitude for Simply Being Alive

  • There are so many joys that many of us take for granted but, with a joie de vivre attitude, we can relish in creature comforts. Savor a meal, enjoy a good bottle of wine, revel in conversation, make time for a little cat nap, and sink deep down into a hot bathtub filled with bubbles. 
  • What does it mean to truly enjoy life? To enjoy being alive is to take the good with the bad, to have a certain optimism, to be curious, to take chances. 
  • Take everything in stride. Try to live life one day at a time (this is definitely easier said than done; it’s a lifelong practice and doesn’t happen overnight). 
(Joie de Vivre by Pablo Picasso, 1946)
  • Lose the cynicism. Sure, we all love to be a little snide at times but don’t look down on the happy, smiling couple just because you’re having a bad day: know that things can and usually will always get better.
  • Accept that there are things you cannot change and that progress takes time. Life is ever-changing and we are always evolving. Do not let yourself get in the way of important growth but, instead, let it happen. Open yourself up to new ideas and (occasionally) let down your guard and actually consider that certain bit of advice you ask for but rarely take.

Look to the Poets, Writers, and Artists 

In order to understand the intimate language of life, our emotions, and all those inexpressible, indefinable feelings and desires, we look to the great artists for guidance. Without poetry, literature, and art, it would be extremely difficult to connect with certain aspects of the world and we would feel shut off from other people, time periods, and experiences. 

  •  Émile Zola’s 1884 novel La Joie de Vivre (The Joys of Living/Joy of Life/How Jolly Life Is) was supposedly a favorite of Vincent van Gogh’s and is even depicted in his 1888 still life Vase with Oleanders and Books.
  • Dostoevsky wrote of life and loving it despite logic: 


“I have a longing for life, and I go on living in spite of logic. Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves in spring. I love the blue sky.” –Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (1880)


  • If you simply cannot think of life as an exultation, as a joyous thing, fake it till you make it! An optimist always has more fun than a pessimist.
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