Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bonjour, Happiness!

Sometimes things just occur right at the perfect moment.  With all of the turbulence I know that it might be easy to get down and sad and suddenly stop seeing the good things around me.  So, the fact that last week I picked up Jamie Cat Callan's (the author of French Women Don't Sleep Alone) new book, "Bonjour, Happiness!" seemed more than chance.  I came across it accidentally as I was walking out of the store and my eye was caught by another book. 

I read through it quickly.  I even read the chapter about la femme d'un certain age because I thought, well, might as well see if I can learn something.  As a Francophile I will say that many books share themes and ideas.  However, I've come to see that as a plus.  It's good to have some ideas pounded into your head, to have it reiterated in a new way.  So of course, the book talks about the French and how to capture some of their joie de vivre....but she does so including our go-get them strengths as American women. 

And parts are quite fascinating, such as Weight Watchers in France.  She attended meetings while doing her fellowship there, and discusses how even at these meetings there is less focus on bad, but on the good.  Such as, you can have either saucisson or foie gras, but not both.  And then the women would excitedly talk over one another sharing recipes and ideas.  They love taking care of themselves, but they also love food.  It is more about learning to compromise than to starve oneself. 

And it's about finding happiness in the small things every day.  It's about not chasing things, not saying, "once I have this or have done that I'll be happy."  It's about happening upon moments of happiness rather than so aggressively searching for it.  For myself, today, that means that I smiled at the foam in my coffee made by a $2 gadget from IKEA.  I danced and sang while I caramelized onions and cooked down mushrooms for the tart.  I lit yummy smelling candles and took in the beauty of the tulips I bought this weekend. 

La vie n'est pas parfaite.  (Life is not perfect.)  That is an impossible dream.  But happiness is all around you, if you are ready to welcome it in.  It's in the ruby color of a good claret.  It's in the breeze across your neck after a good run.  It's the silence you need to just relax one afternoon.  It's in the lighting of a candle at church.  It's in hearing the key turn in your front door and your heart going pitter pat because your love is home. 

So allow moments of happiness to find you.  I assure you it will make even the most horrific day brighter.  The sun pushes away the shadows when you allow it to shine on you. 


  1. Sounds like a wise and fulfilling philosophy/outlook. I just downloaded this book to my Kindle and am looking forward to reading it!

  2. Thanks for the peek ahead to Bonjour, Happiness! I'm waiting for my copy to arrive and looking forward to diving in. I agree with you that many of the French books have very similar themes, but I need to be reminded of them often. As Americans, it takes awhile (and lots of reading) to fully embrace a new way of thinking.

  3. Lovely post, Kalee. One of my simple joys is a cup of good coffee with cream, the backdoor open to let in the breeze, and my feet tucked up on the couch to enjoy the coffee. You really can't buy that kind of happiness (I guess you need to purchase the coffee and cream, though!).

    From my former working days, I have friends with multi-million dollar portfolios who are never, ever able to enjoy simple pleasures. It's sad.

  4. Timely post, since I was wandering whether I wanted to buy this book. So glad it makes you feel better...

  5. I must check that out, and I love the cheery-ness of this post! :)


  6. Jamis is an incredible author and woman - I had the pleasure of studying writing with her in France last fall. This is a great review of her book. Mine's in the mail from right now and I can't wait to read it!

  7. Bonjour, Kalee-- I love your blog and I am so thrilled that you enjoyed my book, "Bonjour, Happiness!" I wonder if you'd like to host a book giveaway? I will be happy to provide you with a free copy and send it to the winner. Perhaps we could ask your readers to provide three ways to find joie de vivre in ordinary moments or three simple pleasures...something like this. If this appeals to you, please email me at And merci beaucoup! xo Jamie