Last fall I shared that online college courses were available to the public for free, and in mentioning this on the blog, I signed up for a couple of courses that caught my interest from Coursera. This past week I began taking a philosophy course Know Thyself from the University of Virginia. And I have to say it has struck a cord of enthusiasm that I can’t quite explain at this moment.
The French phrase je ne sais quoi, meaning ‘I don’t know what’, is often attributed to that certain special something that we can’t exactly pinpoint, but are fondly attracted to when it comes to someone or something. And as it is a French term, it seems fitting that it tends to accurately describe (at least for me) the intoxication I have with all things French – especially French women’s ability to exude everything that is intangible but necessary when I think of be a stylish, confident woman.
As I am taking the Know Thyself course, I can’t help but gradually find more and more of an ease and inner calm as I come to understand what knowing oneself is all about. So far, what I have learned is that the only person we will every have the opportunity to truly understand is ourselves, yet ironically, in today’s world we are so busy trying to figure out what everyone else wants, desires and expects that we run out of time when we finally are able to turn and examine exactly who we are when in actuality, it should be the other way around.
So today, since we will never be able to fully understand another human being the way we will be able to understand ourselves, I thought I’d share a handful of ways we can all include in our lives to become more familiar with our inner je ne sais quoi. Have a look:
1. Allow yourself moments of solitude.
2. Keep certain things to yourself.
3. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.
4. Be willing to take risks. Wisdom comes with experience. In order to gain experience, one must be willing to spread their wings.
5. Continue to learn.
6. Listen to what continues to call to you.
7. Indulge in conversation with those who intrigue you.
8. Travel to Paris. Travel wherever your curiosity pulls you.
9. Read biographies and auto-biographies of people who capture your attention.
10. Turn off the technology and just go where the moments take you.
11. Be impossible to define by anyone but yourself. How? Never stop growing, learning and searching for new knowledge about yourself and the world.
12. Ignore stereotypes. By their very definition they are inaccurate and a coward’s crutch.
13. Follow your own path even if no one seems to understand why.
14. Don’t be agreeable if you don’t agree.
15. Choose battles that pair up with what you value most.
16. Ignore the outside world’s opinion. Pay it no mind. It will intrigue them all the more.
17. Strive to be respected, not liked. Remember Willy Loman?
18. Take the time to understand the rules, then break them when necessary.
19. Always choose quality over quantity – clothing, relationships, decor, thoughts, etc.
20. Appreciate your unique beauty. Channel your inner Diana Vreeland.
21. Choose your friends wisely. Then, nurture, nurture, nurture.
22. Appear to live effortlessly. Part of what makes someone attractive is the mystery. How does she do it? Such a question works much like a magnet.
23. Embrace your femininity. This doesn’t mean you have to dress in head to toe pink (unless you want to), but it does mean to be authentically who you are. Femininity doesn’t mean all women should act alike, but it does mean that we shouldn’t shun our innate unique talents – no stereotyping, as every woman is uniquely her own individual.
24. Practice self-discipline.
25. Become observant of all that goes on around you. Often the most enjoyable experiences are those when I can be a wallflower and simply take in the surroundings – the people, the weather, the behavior - of how everything interacts. So much can be learned.
26. Speak when you have something to say. Don’t simply speak to fill the silence. Silence isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
27. Meditate. Slow down. Be still. Focus on your breathing. Clear your mind.
28. Dress for the occasion.
29. Turn routines into rituals to be enjoyed. Grocery shopping? Choose a favorite time of day, find a wonderful market and take your time – smelling the fruit, reading the wine labels, gazing across the cheese display. Oh, and pick up a lovely bouquet of flowers as an exclamation point on a wonderful outing.
30. Keep a record of your thoughts. And then review what appears regularly. Listen. Act. Remember . . . you have but this one and only life. How will you design it?
Most importantly, when you find that certain something within your own life that makes your ordinary routine sing, giving you pleasure that you could have never imagine previously, revel in it, luxuriate in it and then build upon it so that it remains within your life.
Bonne journée mes amis!
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