Madame Clement is a vivacious sixty-nine year lady who lives in the South of France.
She invited me to her home many years ago for dinner and greeted me at the door wearing black wrap dress and scarf with her silver hair pulled tight into a bun. Her style embodied simple elegance.
Her home was no exception. It was small and charming, with every object carefully chosen and meticulously placed.
During dinner with her family, a conversation ignited around the table about what it meant to live a well-lived life. They were curious about the American mentality of constantly striving for more, and I was equally mesmerized by their focus on enjoying more.
I had the ambition part down to an art. They had perfected l’art de vivre (the art of living). I wanted to know how to combine the two.
Madame Clement confidently chimed in and gave me some nuggets of wisdom that embedded upon my heart and continue to impact my life in a beautiful way.
“The secret to a well-lived life is simple: choose quality, cultivate your own garden, and love what you have.”
Good, good stuff. So, let’s break it down:
1. Choose Quality
We live in a culture that stresses quantity over quality. We stuff our lives, minds, bodies and homes with excess, leaving very little room for enjoyment.
When you focus on quality, you look at everything through a different eye (a more elegant one). You’ll ask questions, such as:
What is the fabric?
Where was this grown?
What does this company believe in?
How will this cultivate my mind?
What will this person bring into my life (and vice versa)?
Do I really love it?
Will this add true value to my life?
2. Cultivate Your Own Garden
This piece of advice from Madame Clement is a more elegant way of saying, “Stay in your own business.”
I spent years in other people’s gardens, precious time I could have dedicated to my growing my own.
You know when you’re not in your garden when you find yourself asking questions, such as:
What does he/she think?
What did he/she say?
What is he/she doing?
That’s their garden, darling. Get back into yours and get busy weeding, planting and fertilizing.
3. Love What You Have
I used to live my life in acquisition mode. Meaning: chasing, getting, buying, collecting.
Instead of loving and cherishing what I had, I suffocated my life with more.
Not only did this cost me money, but it also cost me time. The more you have, the more time you spend paying and caring for it. As Edwin Way Teale said, “Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.”
By intentionally loving and cherishing what I have, I cannot describe the amount of joy and appreciation it’s brought me (not to mention the time and money I’ve saved).
My life has more quality than ever with less stuff than ever!
Abundance is not found in stuff. It’s a feeling. And, when you get into that feel good state, what you truly desire will flow to you with elegance. There won’t be that desperate neediness that is so prevalent in today’s society.
That paralyzing feeling of lacking and scarcity will begin to dissipate. You’ll discover that you feel more abundant than ever.
These three pieces of advice seem so simple, right? Hearing her say those words alongside seeing the life she had created inspired me to put it into practice.
Yet, even with it at the forefront of my life, I still make meaningless purchases, get into someone’s business or take something or someone for granted. I’m sure Madame Clement doesn’t live by her advice flawlessly either, but therein lies the grace of life.
What I do know is that if you strive to live by these three tips, you’ll see your life change in beautiful ways!
Oh, and I almost forgot Madame Clement’s final two tips: Have lots of sex and drink Champagne! My God, I love the French! (and, you can surely tweet that!)
What piece of Madame Clement’s advice will you focus on this week? Let me know in the comments below.