This year, I’ll be turning thirty. Saying goodbye to my twenties led me to reflect on how I’ve lived the first decade of my adult life and how I want to live in the coming years. If I were to sum up my life so far, it is the pursuit of a well-lived life. I’ve given much thought to it, and condensed it into the new JewelPie Manifesto.
The manifesto is a succinct outline to a good life. The key is identifying and valuing quality. Here’s a guideline to live a good quality life, inspired by ‘Lessons From Madame Chic’ by Jennifer Scott, a book that emulates the joie de vivre of the French lifestyle.
Living with Famille Chic defined for me a quality life. I also learned about things like clothing, furniture, and food, as well as quality of thoughts, of feelings, of intellect. So many things about French lifestyle emphasize quality – Jennifer Scott
Love your body more by eating quality food. What is quality food? It is fresh, unprocessed and the best that you can afford. For example, eat baked fresh fish with salt and pepper, instead of canned fish. Buy a half a dozen free-range kampung eggs, instead of two dozen lower grade eggs.
Modern lifestyle has made us forget how real food is suppose to taste. Train your palate to enjoy real food. You’ll be surprised as to how delicious it can be. If you are resourceful and focus on fresh and locally produced food, they need not be expensive.
Because of my irrational fear of being hungry and having nothing to serve guests, I stock up the pantry and refrigerator with more than I need. This takes up a lot of space in my kitchen and by the time I’m ready to eat, food is not as fresh as I would like it to be, if not expired.
There are a few packets of frozen edamame, a drawerful of canned food and a snack basket filled with chocolates, biscuits and other junk food, for those just in case moments. But I came to realise, that emergencies rarely occur. When it does, it’s easy to order more fresh food or call for healthy delivery services.
Now, I seek to buy quality food that I enjoy. Because I no longer spend a huge amount of money on inferior food I don’t need, I have enough to spend a little more on quality food that I love. Quality oily fish like salmon and mackerel used to be a treat and I bought them with much reluctance due to their price.
Now, I tell myself that I deserve eating the best food and that if I have a hearty dinner with baked salmon and sea salt, brown rice and vegetables for example, I will not need to munch of biscuits for supper. I also spend on nuts, cheese and dark chocolates.
- Do not overstock your kitchen with junk food out of fear.
- Learn to enjoy fresh food. Once you do, you will have less urge for inferior ones.
- Spend less on junk food and channel the savings to buy better quality food.
“Appreciate clothes for their fabrics and craftmanship,” advised Jennifer Scott. Focus on quality, instead of trends or prestige, is an excellent idea.
It is also important to identify your style. Do you like ‘boho-glam’ like Nicole Richie? ‘Ladylike-chic’ like Kate Middleton? Once you identify your style, invest in quality pieces that last. Good quality clothes that speaks to your style will make you look and feel good.
My teenage and early adult fashion focused a lot on trends. Also, as I was on a student budget, I didn’t seek quality. I had my fair-share of clothes made of fabrics so thin they were almost see-through. My wardrobe was filled with clothes of all styles and colours that might not look good on me.
Hence, I had the problem of having a lot of clothes and ‘nothing to wear’. Though I enjoyed the fashion experiments, I’m glad I found my style now; it’s so much easier and joyful to pick clothes from a smaller curated wardrobe.
I have a relatively small wardrobe filled with clothes I love. To find my style, for a month I tried to wear some of my favourite clothes over and over again. I also played Covet Fashion on my iPad for some virtual shopping, and discovered I absolutely love flouncy skirts and the colour red.
I also invested in a few staples that will last, such as a beautiful leather bag and purse. Although style is something that evolves, however having the mentality of ‘quality over quantity’, I know I will be clothed in the best quality clothes that I can afford and that I’ll look fabulous in them.
- Reduce the size of your wardrobe. Using the same budget, buy half the amount of clothes you normally would and those of better quality.
- Get rid of the mentality of not wanting to be seen more than once in the same outfit. There’s no shame in it.
- Buy clothes only if you like them and they look good on you, not because they are on sale or you’re bored.
Quality activities are things that you do – mundane or exciting – with a positive impact. To have quality activities, one must be both positive and selective. Find joy and meaning in everything you do, no matter how menial. Washing the dishes means you had a good meal.
It is also important to choose how you spend your time and who you spend it with. You only have a limited amount of time, do you really want to do things that do not matter and get involved in other people’s drama?
I used to join every activity and hang out with everybody. While I still do not think this is a bad thing, the truth is I have much less time as an adult. It did not bother me to spend time with people who only seem to criticise me or do things I did not like, just because I’ve made a promise or that we’ve known each other for a long time. But being free from negativity and making an effort to do things I enjoy has made a big difference to my happiness.
I have learned to be more selective with whom and how I spend my time. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting ties with people. I make more of an effort to connect with people whose company I enjoy and those who genuinely care for me.
I also identify life’s few simple pleasures and indulge in them often e.g soaking my feet or reading a good book on my bed (Read: 100 healthy and beautiful ideas to destress). Nowadays, I normally meet people who lift my spirits and I go out because it’s fun, not because I am bored or obliged to.
- Identify a few simple things that makes you happy.
- Go on a ‘Negative Fast’. Avoid complaining/ gossiping for a month and see what difference it makes.
- Spend more time with positive people who care about you, and less time with people who are chronically negative and pull you down/hold you back.
Spending quality time with people you love is the most important tenet of living a quality life. Quality time means giving the people you are with your full attention. It is having a good conversation and laughing together. It is not hearing what they say as you reply to a text message or pretending to listen as you’re thinking of something else.
My idea of ‘spending time’ involved the number of times I went out with the person, not how much fun we had. It was OK to watch a movie that happens to be playing, without truly enjoying the film or each other’s company. This was because I wanted to do everything, I wasn’t fully present.
Now that people I love to hang out with have more obligations and less time, we all appreciate our time together more than ever. For me, dinner parties are the best way to have quality time with my family and friends. It involves cooking together, setting the table nicely and talking to each other.
I personally try to be 100% present by not looking at my phone and listening intently to what people have to say even if it might not interest me. To do so, I silent my phone and wouldn’t pick it up when I’m engaging in a conversation. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!
- Create a sacred ritual of spending quality time. It could be a dinner at a restaurant or going on a hike together.
- Put your phone away when you’re with people.
- Learn the art of conversation and truly talk to each other (Recommended reading: The Art of Civilised Conversation)
Finding your personal quality life
These suggestions are a small part of living a quality life and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Quality is different for everyone. Tailor make quality to your lifestyle, budget, interests and happiness.
Don’t let people guilt you into thinking that the quality life that you seek for is elitist or discourage you because they believe that you lack capability. You are in charge of your life and you can improve it.
The quality life that JewelPie advocates focuses on many things that cannot be bought in life such as dedicated time with good people. Better-made material things only enhance – but are not a prerequisite of – a quality life.
Inspiration for a quality life
My inspiration for living a quality life comes from travel experiences and good books. If you need something to inspire you to kickstart living a good life, I highly recommend that you read the following:
To a quality year ahead!