Every time I go to Europe, I learn lessons to take back home to the United States. These are good refreshers of the things I have learned about life from the Europeans that I wish to incorporate into my everyday life. Let me share a few of these observances with you.
Savor the moment, whether it is an outstanding view of the Swiss Alps from an elevated vantage point, the intricate details of the church’s stain glass windows or memorable façade, the succulent dessert that seems to melt in your mouth, or the pace of life where each moment is savored.
Yes, each moment is worth savoring! Somehow, we Americans tend to forget such blessings once we enter into our everyday hectic lives.
Sit and ponder. Think about what life used to be like and how life has changed. This is especially interesting when in Europe where the history is deep, and the buildings remind you of times of the past.
Not so much in the USA, but we can still ponder. We can think about what we really want in life, the types of relationships, places we want to visit, and what our dream job might be. You can use your mind to go to a different place just by wondering.
Instead, we often worry about where we will go next. We are too busy checking Instagram or Facebook that we cannot relax. We don’t take the time to soak in the moment and enjoy the afternoon tea or talking with a new friend. We rush through the museums or amusement parks, with a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out.)
Europeans don’t live like that! They are never in a hurry to get their bill at the coffee shop or restaurant. Enjoying a meal is a treat to be savored. The connection with others is treasured. There is no hurry to end the conversation to go to the next thing on a to do list.
They make provisions for bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, trams, buses, and automobiles. There are plenty of ramps for the elderly or disabled so they too can take part in the community aspect of a town or even a large city. There is a sense of inclusion. Everyone is accommodated at their own pace.
Restaurants and cafes are prolific! These little escapades are constant reminders to slow down and enjoy life. No drive-throughs and hurry up and eat in your car before heading back to the office or your next errand.
Flowers and trees are everywhere! They border the streetside cafes, delineating the separation from the adjoining café. They provide the ambiance of being outside in a garden even though the noisy traffic is just feet away. They use every opportunity to create memorable spaces so as to savor the moments.
With tables outside, it provides an easy way to get your daily sunshine, which many Americans seem to avoid or don’t have time for. Due to the density of structures and buildings, it forces people to walk, and walking is so good for us – physically and mentally.
This is something Americans tend to forget unless of course they are on a treadmill. It is much better and easier to incorporate these lifestyle changes into your life instead of changing things all together. This is an easy way to make improvements to your everyday life.
Learn to enjoy the coffee/tea break with a colleague. Enjoy the walk to the bistro if possible. Sit outside and hear the birds and smell the fragrances of the flowers. Cut your server some slack and try not to be in a rush.
Remember we are all people, trying to get by the best we can. Maybe the best we can do is to savor the moment and learn to enjoy life along the way.
Maybe we need to remember that life is not a race, but a journey to be savored, much like the French croissant that smells and tastes so delicious.
Yes, we Americans have much to learn from the Europeans. Perhaps it is time to integrate some of Europe into our lives!