I never managed to have a word of the Year. Oh sure, there were those last weeks of December where I diligently squeezed my brain for words like “wildflower”, “focus” or “serendipity” – they had to sound grand, n’est-ce pas – but like so many grand-sounding words, they were never followed by inspired action and thus became stale very quickly.
But never say never…
Recently I went to London, a city I love, and as it goes in different surroundings, fresh thoughts and ideas emerge. I was wandering through Regent Park when a word, or rather an expression landed out of the blue: “Bien dans sa peau.”
(For the non-French amongst you: it means literally “well in one’s skin”: To be happy in yourself and with yourself. At ease. By no means does it mean to feel elated 24/7, it’s more about to be in sync with yourself.)
I was surprised at how strongly this thought did bring the corresponding feeling of bien dans sa peau: clarity, a certain lightness, a sense of calm, of joy, of feeling connected.
At first I didn’t think much about it and put it down to simply being happy to find myself in London. The expression and the feeling provided an enchanting flavour for the rest of my day, wandering the streets and enjoying my Christmas shopping.
When I boarded the Eurostar back to Paris the flavour was still there. I started to pay attention.
Could this be my word of the year?
What if I were bien dans ma peau (nearly) all the time?
Intriguing idea. Have you ever asked yourself this question?
What if you were well in your skin (nearly) all the time?
What would it take?
What would you need to do differently? To think differently?
What would you need to shed, where would you need to grow?
What habits would help or hinder?
In short: who would you need to become?
I have since then been exploring the components and qualities of being bien dans sa peau. Unsurprisingly, these are all components vital to living elegantly and well, for getting closer to yourself and to really do the things you want to do. Have a look at them through the lens of your own word of the year!
The art of being bien dans sa peau – 7 clues
1.) Feel your feelings. Our feelings are here to be felt. ALL feelings. Bien sûr, no one wants to feel sad, lonely or angry. You may have noticed that it’s easier and oh-so tempting to go instead for gummy bears, booze, cigarettes, buying tupperware, spending hours on Facebook or whatever your ersatz is. But you may also have noticed that the result is more likely to grow an ulcer than to be bien dans sa peau. Plus, as we always see in others and so rarely in ourselves, the person who avoids her feelings is usually the most boring one in the room…
Feeling your feelings does take courage and can be extremely uncomfortable, but it can also be learned, practised and – surprise! even when tears stream down your face you will actually feel alive, truly alive! (Plus we always look younger after an emotional release, have you noticed?)
2.) Starve overwhelm. Stress and the feeling of bien dans sa peau don’t live on the same planet. How many women constantly feel behind and barely survive a suffocating state of overwhelm (did someone say burn-out?)!
Overwhelm thrives on too many commitments, on the temptation of doing the less important things first, on worrying about things you can’t change, on concerning yourself about what (you believe) others think, on always wanting to fit in just one more thing, on controlling everything around you…
Starving overwhelm requires radical and uncomfortable action: saying No. Choosing to do less but better. Living by design, not by default. Please repeat after me: to get out of the hamster wheel of being overworked and undervalued, you need to practise saying no – a lot.
“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” John Maxwell
But first you need to see what they are!
3.) Create clarity. I don’t know about you, but the more clarity I have in my life, the better I feel in my skin. Clarity is interesting because so elusive. How often we are deeply muddled but believe ourselves to be crystal clear :)? The notion that clarity needs to be cultivated constantly is something that seems to elude even the highest and mightiest.
The good new is that clarity can be fed from many sources: enough sleep, a clean diet, journaling, meditation, setting clear boundaries (see no.2) and honesty with yourself (no.1)
It will not surprise you that a favourite playground of mine for inviting and for maintaining clarity is my home. Create clarity in the outside world and it will resonate inside of you! Whenever I find myself stuck or muddled, some extra special attention to my surroundings lifts the fog. I actually enjoy doing that…
4.) Plaisir All work and no play is certainly not conducive to the art of being bien dans sa peau. In Paris obviously plaisir is a huge part of our culture, and thankfully we don’t buy into this absurd notion that enjoying food and wine, making love, taking time to look your best and enjoying life and its beauty are somehow “wrong”.
Plaisir and its companion playfulness are intrinsically linked to creativity. And when it comes to being bien dans sa peau, there are few things better in this life than being in a creative flow. Your inner child knows this, and so do the world’s greatest artists, sages, entrepreneurs and inventors.
Cultivate your plaisir.
5.) Discipline. Discipline results in heightened plaisir. Of course discipline doesn’t have to be grueling workouts or living like a Navy Seal in order to reap the benefits! All in good measure.
But discipline, like it or not, is the path to elegance and freedom.
Discipline not only makes things happen, but make the important things happen.
It’s so closely linked to being bien dans sa peau, because it feels so much more satisfactory to have accomplished something difficult rather than something ordinary. To have mastered yourself to go for the long-term quality rather than the immediate gratification.
Most people, yours truly certainly included, have an area in their lives where they need more discipline…
Guess how this self-mastery will make you feel in your skin?
Speaking of quality…
6.) Quality Now, quality does not only apply to the things you buy. I do love beautiful things as much as the next girl (probably more), but buying quality is only a part of the game.
To be bien dans sa peau, you need to take care of your skin (pardon for the pun), but also of your second skin (your clothes, your appearance), and of course of your third skin which is your home.
Quality shows in every aspect of your life. The conversations you have, the books you read, how you treat yourself and others, the food you put into your body and how you spend your time all speak of your unique brand of quality.
Try this out: treat everything and everyone in your sphere of influence as an entity that deserves quality and watch the results unfold. You can thank me later.
Beauty is presence. Beauty is radical. Beauty is incredibly powerful, because it immediately heals and connects us with ourselves.
Beauty feeds and resonates with your soul. Beauty touches your heart.
Beauty elevates. Beauty immediately softens the shell so many people live in.
One simply can’t be bien dans sa peau without being open to beauty. Creating beauty in whichever way is a guarantee to be bien dans sa peau!
Beauty is something you’ll need to experience or even better create every single day, and again, your first, second and third skin are all wonderful playgrounds to create beauty (may I state the obvious: it has nothing to do with how old you are, what you weigh or what kind of home you live in!)
Being bien dans sa peau is a wonderful gift not only to yourself but to everyone around you – you will become more more serene, better in your enterprises, you will be much more enjoyable as a person and you will help so many people around you simply by resonance!
If you don’t know where to start, start with yourself and how you show up every morning. Your appearance will improve as much as your mood and your opinion of yourself.
I’m most excited to find out how this my Word of the year will unfold!
Now your turn:: What is your mental picture on being bien dans sa peau?
Please share in the comments.
Thank you Rima, for this wonderful article. Here’s my word of the year:
I found my word in a souvenir shop in Santa Cruz, CA. You know those pebbles with words written on them. The one’s you’re tempted to buy a whole bunch of because you can’t decide which one to chose. I had to decide for one because my suitcase was already loaded. So I closed my eyes and felt inside about what really matters. and the answer was: Health. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s the foundation for everything else in life: running a successful business, being a good mum, être bien dans ma peau. My word of the year is Health for the 4th year in a row.
Wishing you shining health for the new year, Susanne! I think it’s great that you stick to your Word to really get it!
I finally read this beautiful article. My word for 2019 is “Mindful.” I think discipline, saying no, awareness of beauty…all the lovely points you make, will fit in with being mindful.
The first month of the year is almost over and it’s of to a good start.
Bonne Annee, Rima…
Thank you, Deanna! And I love, love, love ‘mindful’. To me it evokes a quiet intentionality (is that a word? 🙂 It should be!) as we go through our days, and the awareness that so often is all we need to make the right choices. Wonderful!