As I dive into another scorched almond/slice of panetone/lebekuchen for the 26th day on the trot, it’s tempting to think of the good a large dose of Magnesium Citrate might do me right now.
Possibly we could all do with feeling a little lighter currently, especially after a December (okay so it was November too) of de trop socialising and the dizzying, relentless pace of the run-up to Christmas. Except at the dawn of 2018, I realise I mean lightness in many senses of the word.
It was an email exchange with my former editor, Lisa Armstrong, that got me thinking once again about the importance of living lighter (and consequently, happier, more positive) lives. For a fashion feature, I had asked her to define what luxury meant today. Her definition was lightness in everything from ‘featherweight but warm coats and silk filled duvets to food, luggage, attitudes – and not being hemmed in.’ She thought that if she could cultivate a single thing in everything she did, it would be of lightness of touch.
A few weeks later, the talented American crystal glassware designer, Deborah Ehrlich, whose exquisite work has been likened to designing ‘light and air’ (check her out on thegarnered.com) told me, ‘being light is about having a predisposition to being joyful, being light is a choice.’ And last week I read the Italian author, Italo Calvino had written the following in 1988 rather presciently in his ‘Six memos for the next millennium': ‘I have tried to remove weight, sometimes from people, sometimes from heavenly bodies, sometimes from cities, above all I have tried to remove weight from the structure of stories and from language. I have come to consider lightness as a value rather than a defect.’
Ever noticed how when there is a light hand on the tiller (controlled, calm and confident), that everything just runs more smoothly, everything just IS better. Adopting lightness, in every aspect of my life I have come to realise – relationships, conversations, dealing with problems, work (ESPECIALLY work) – makes me zingier, more joyful, more full of vim and more fun to be around. When you feel lighter and move with a lightness, I defy anyone not to feel twinklier and dynamic, more can-do about that the hurly bury that is thrown their way.
You may have noticed too, that paradoxically, the tighter you grasp something, the harder it is to hold, or more forcefully you try to achieve something, the less attainable that thing becomes, slipping out of your reach. Or perhaps we try to control something over which we have no power and then become very frustrated in the process. I can’t be the only person to have light bulb moments or find solutions to problems when I am least expecting them.
As a convert to acupuncture and the infinite wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I try to adopt “ Wu Wei” in my day-to-day life. In a nutshell, it’s a concept from the Tao Te Ching ( a Chinese text from the 600 BC) that literally translates as the action of non-action. It is a sort of lightness in that it means going about in a manner that does not involve struggle or excessive effort (although that isn’t to be confused with laziness). Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life. Adopt a Wu Wei approach or ‘go with the flow’ and my guess is that you will find yourself doing the right thing effortlessly and spontaneously without trying. Going with the flow, even if it might not appear obvious at first, means things usually turn out for the best.
Of course, this isn’t always easy. Nor does it come naturally. It takes some discipline and practise (especially for the control freaks that we have all become in a society that demands everything yesterday), to not rush around like a bull in a china shop and to really stop and listen. All too often we are pulled towards negative chatter or time-wasting office politics which is endlessly soul sapping. Sustaining lightness in your life is created by the choices you make in every moment: so choose your thoughts, words and actions consciously.
Gill once declared resolutions verboten in the January newsletter but if you can tick off even a couple of the following you might have an easier-certainly happier and definitely lighter 2018. What are you waiting for?
See light: let go of the (totally irrational/unreasonable and negative) belief that people have it out for you. Let go of the competing, comparing and keeping up. Start off thinking that people assume well (most do!). See the light of their intentions.
When you let go of everything that is heavy, you become light. You feel it, and everyone around you experiences it. When you are light, everyone is immediately drawn to your positive energy – I promise, great things will happen.
Aside from the fact that the chic-est women I know only travel with hand luggage , who really wants to spend all their holiday being constrained by their stuff, i.e unpacking it, organising it, tidying it and then re-packing it. Isn’t life a bit too short? Also remember this when you cast an eye around your home. Get rid of more stuff!!
Honestly, apart from a life long supply of NIOD CAIS 2, it’s the biggest anti-ageing thing going. Don’t the light people in your life just look younger? Possibly because in the very sage words of George Bernard Shaw, ‘You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.’