DIY to Living a Beautiful Life – Could it really be that simple?

A DIY to living a beautiful life? Sounds cute, but can there really be something as simple as a DIY tutorial to teach someone how to live a beautiful life? Well, in a nutshell, that’s pretty much what I’m proposing. Years and years ago, I made it a priority to live a beautiful life in large and small ways even though I had little extra money to spend. Over the years, that reprioritizing eventually became habit and a part of who I am —why I do what I do. Now, thankfully, I can comfortably make more expensive choices that are beautiful to me, but I thought this same way when I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, too. I believe just about anyone interested and willing to do the self-reflective work necessary to make some positive life changes can also learn how to live a beautiful life. So, yes, I’m writing a DIY to living a beautiful life.

Cafe in ParisMany of us have our own personal mantras and beliefs, things we say when times get tough or ideals we strive for over the course of our lives. One of mine is, “Live a beautiful life.” At first, it sounds like one more of those cliche, ‘Rules to Live By,’ posters, framed and ready for hanging. To me, though, it’s a simple concept I can go to and easily apply to how I make choices and do what I do every single day. ‘Living a beautiful life’ to me, is about choosing to make beautiful and memorable moments happen; living with beauty daily (as defined by the individual), and imbedding beauty into daily routines wherever possible.

Is this way of thinking an original thought? No, to give credit where credit is due, about 25 years ago, I read, “Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life” by Alexandra Stoddard, (that’s some title!). I’m not much of a reader of the self-help/psychology genre, but I do love me some non-fiction. Stoddard‘s book lived somewhere between those two genres. The book introduced the concept of actively choosing to live a beautiful life; encouraged positive behavioral changes to do so, AND gave concrete suggestions on how to do what the author espoused.

So, as a young adult woman when I read Stoddard‘s book, I was at a formative and impressionable point in my life. I was setting up my first apartment, learning to be a responsible adult and beginning full-time work. Stoddard’s message that living a beautiful life was my ‘right’ (because I was just as worthy of having beauty in my life as anyone else); it was my own responsibility to intentionally seek out beauty on a daily basis, and that it was possible regardless of my economic situation –resonated with me. I was living in a crappy apartment, with a bottom-feeder job and a pretty depressing daily life. I set out to try to do what I could with it, figuring it couldn’t make the drudgery of my life any worse. As time went by, some things stuck, others didn’t.

Did I do it Alexandra Stoddard’s way? Not really, but I can definitely credit her with opening my eyes to the concept of living intentionally with beauty. I’m a tough nut to crack on anything too fussy so a lot of her suggestions didn’t work for me, but the overall philosophy did, along with an upbringing that, more or less, spoke the same language. To coin a phrase, in the end, “I did it my way.” Now, years later, I don’t think much about why I do what I do but I’ve lived a blessed and beautiful life. I just am who I am, doin’ what I do (like having my own joie de vivre sort of moment on a rainy spring afternoon in Paris). To my mind, I am living a beautiful life. Not a perfect life, but a beautiful life.

This is all good and well, you’re probably thinking. You came to this post to see if there really is a DIY to living a beautiful life. Well, I’m here to tell you, I think there can be one, of sorts, and I’m working on it…perhaps, done in an e-booklet, self-paced lesson format sort of way, not sure yet. In the meantime, however, if you just can’t wait another minute for my version, you might unearth a copy of Stoddard’s book from your local library to get the gist of the idea. I’m going for a modernized, self-reflective, yet concrete sort of thing in a DIY format. If you are, or want to be, a ‘glass half full’ kinda person, stay tuned…we’ll have some fun.

Are you game? Let me know…

Caveat: If you plan to read Stoddard‘s book, “Living a Beautiful Life…”, do so with an open mind and don’t get hung up on every little off-the-wall suggestion, some of which ARE a bit much or dated. Now, several decades later, current reviews on the book show she has been very polarizing for women. There are haters, (who think she is out of touch and elitist, even for the time in which she wrote the book), and there are lovers (those who understood Stoddard’s greater message and were inspired to strive for beauty in their daily life). Today, everyone has an opinion and happily shares them all whether we want them to or not. Is Stoddard an ‘every-woman’? No, she was raised in an extremely wealthy household and had a very successful career, but along the way she had her own up’s and down’s, like most of us. Her greater philosophy, though, was applicable to many women and not tied to whether you only had money to burn. It was, and still is, a way of making all the little choices one makes in everything one does.

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