Whether you’ve actually been to Europe or not, it seems that most Canadian young professionals (YPs) have some idea that the European lifestyle is one of leisure, luxury, and vitality. We imagine wine at lunch, extended vacations, and active, successful, happy people. It has long been said that a major difference between the North American way of life and that of Europeans comes from our views regarding work, meaning the live-to-work vs. work-to-live mentality. Here at Notable, we are always in search of ways to help YPs find balance within their busy professional, social, and philanthropic lives, and what better way than to look East at those living that balance oh-so-well? If you want to inject some more relaxation and satisfaction into your life, check out these four ways of embracing a more European lifestyle this summer season:
1. Stop working when the workday ends: Doesn’t it just sound so simple? When the workday ends and we’re away from the office, we cease working! Yet, thanks to that handy little smartphone in our pocket, work is now able to come along with us on our commute home, to our post-work pub stop, and even into our beds. Not in France, however. If we weren’t already jealous of France’s mandatory maximum 35-hour workweek, and, like much of Europe, 4-5 weeks of paid vacation, France has also signed a recent labour agreement requiring employers and staff to disconnect from each other après 6pm. That means no responding to work-related emails after work – brilliant. Though it may sound a bit batty at first, consider discussing the benefits of taking on this habit with your own employer/employees and taking back those important (and awesome) summer evenings for yourself. (For more tips on going screen-free, see here)
2. Indulge more, move more: Can you guess which country consumes the most chocolate in the entire world, or the most cheese? You’d think they might coincide with the most obese nations (we’re not naming names with that one), but in fact they happen to correspond with some of the world’s highest life expectancy rates. The Swiss eat the most chocolate while Greece consumes the most cheese, but both countries, like much of Europe, are also listed as some of the most physically active, particularly when it comes to self-powered transportation (i.e. walking and cycling). And just look at those landscapes; the Alps of Switzerland, the ocean, and of course all those stairs of Greece. Europeans may be known for indulging in rich, tasty treats, but they balance it out with an active outdoor and sports-loving lifestyle. We’ve all heard that “sitting is the new smoking”, so if you want to adopt a more Euro lifestyle this summer, make sure to include moving along with all that indulging.
3. Taking time off ≠ lazy: The typical North American mentality often sees time off from work as time spent being unproductive. As young professionals, many of us have even developed what’s come to be known as the vacation guilts, actually feeling bad, even lazy, for taking time off. As mentioned, most European countries require workers to take 4, 5, even 6 weeks of paid – paid – vacation time every year, and no one is deeming them to be lazy people. With more information coming to light about the dangers of career burnout, it is also becoming common knowledge that in order to be the most productive versions of ourselves, taking time to relax, as well as explore interests outside of work, are also important factors in the equation of success. We may not be lawfully allotted an abundance of paid vacation time here in Canada, but consider taking a small cut in the paycheck to invest more time in yourself. (For more on making the most of your downtime, see here.)
4. Stop rushing: It may be a stereotype, but it’s not that far from the truth: North Americans are always in a big ass rush. We always have somewhere to be, something to do, someone to see, and we’re always running late… so get out of our way! We’ve become so rushed and busy that we now have to join yoga classes or hire meditation coaches just to force ourselves to take a few moments to slow down. Over in Europe, however, they’ve been masters of the slow and easy lifestyle since forever – and without any help from instructors or coaches. Long lunches, afternoon siestas, regular sauna visits; Europeans know how to take their time, to treat themselves right, and to enjoy every lasting minute. If you haven’t stopped to smell the roses, taken a nice long nap, or enjoyed a long, decadent meal in a really long time, consider slowing it down and being more mindful of life’s lovely moments.
While we very much love and appreciate our Canadian way of life, it is always interesting and beneficial to explore ways in which other cultures live and thrive. As Canadian YPs, we’re extremely lucky to have access to so many different cultures and all that each can share regarding happiness and success.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)
Cover image from: Steven Greaves