I was watching Unpacking Italy lately. For those who do not know, it is a TV-show about two older gentleman travelling through Italy to discover Italy’s secrets – one of them is historian and another is a chef. They focus on the history and art as well as Italy’s fine cuisine. One thing that I noticed from episode to episode is people’s willingness to enjoy life. There is an art to fine living. Whether they are cooking or shopping or travelling, it is not about convenience, it is about the effort. The more effort they invest the more joy they seem to experience, even from the simplest things.
There are so many people who complain that their life is bland, their food lost its taste and that things are not the way they used to be. So many people are bored of life. So many people are bored of or disappointed in their relationships. Do you know why? Because they did not put any effort in it! The effort they invest goes into distractions or complaints but not into the change they need to turn their life around.
Moving from Ukraine (Eastern Europe) to Canada, I only recently realized that a lot of Western cultures and lifestyles focus on convenience. If you pay attention when watching commercials, there is a huge emphasis on products and services that are quick, simple and easy. Traditional home-cooked meals are overtaken by conveniently pre-made frozen dinners, or carefully assembled selection of vegetables (sorted by portions) to make it as easy as possible for you to prepare the next dinner. There is no creativity left. It is not about experimenting, it is about reducing the experience from design and testing to a quick transaction. No wonder these dinners do not taste the same as the ones served in expensive restaurants, where significant effort and time spent on selecting fresh ingredients, experimenting with food pairings, designing and updating course selections, hiring chefs and the team that can do wonders and designing the perfect atmosphere inside/outside of the restaurant that is worth our money.
No wonder it is a business! What if, we have paid the same kind of effort and time to recreate this atmosphere at home, and not just on holidays, but every single day?
It is not about the food, it is about how we live our life. When I ask people about their life or their weekend, many people answer with something like “same old” or “did chores”. There is nothing exciting going on and there should not be anything if we put no effort into this. People keep doing the same thing over and over again but expect different result. Many would argue, saying we do not have to change the way we live our life, we just need to learn to be present and appreciate what surrounds us and what we have today. If you are able to do this, good for you. Unfortunately I am no specialist in yoga or meditation but one thing I learned over the years is that to make life exciting or fine, you have to put some effort into it.
Whether you want to have a perfect place you call home, have every dinner that tastes like the one from the most expensive restaurant, have a life full of events or have a busy social life, whatever fine life is for you – you have to create it. You have to be the designer of your life. You have to put effort in your life and your lifestyle so every day feels and tastes different. There are no excuses. It is like taking the same route to work every day and then complaining that you do not see the world – of course you would not unless you change how you do things and where you go!
You do not have to start with big changes. Even smaller changes in details of your life will bring you more joy than expected. You can even start from a salad. Five years ago my mom was the one cooking dinner and she would buy the same kind of salad every day. Okay, maybe she will rotate between 3 different kinds of salads but they were all pre-cut, pre-packaged and ready to assemble.
This kind of transactional salad that takes 2 minutes to make and feels like a transaction when you eat. There is some taste in it, especially when you are hungry so it does fulfil the function of what the salad was designed to do but there was no enjoyment behind this. Maybe that’s the reason why I did not really like salads for a while, until I started living on my own, and a few weeks ago I came across the recipe that changed my perspective about salad. The salad was not pre-packaged but most importantly, it took some time and effort to make because the dressing needs to be made few minutes before you pour it over.
The result was so good that I ate this salad every day for a week and I don’t stop unless I ran out of ingredients. I may share the recipe for this salad in a next post or so but the point is: if there any side of your life that you are not enjoying but would like to – put some effort and time into it.
Change your routine. Experiment. Try new flavours, take new routes. If your senses tell you that certain things could be better- listen to your gut. If something does not bring you joy – change it. You are the only one who has the power to change your life to make it better and you are the only one who knows what needs to be in your life to make you happy so do it! Act on it, change it, improve it. Keep putting effort in your life until it satisfies you, until you live the kind of life you dream of.