I’ve just returned from another lovely trip to Antwerp (in Belgium). Four days, four workshops, and infinite amounts of feel-good vibes. Two of the days I had my evenings off so I decided to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and I took myself out on two dates!
I treated myself to good food and a glass of wine (or two). And I people watched – like mad – for hours. I was totally mesmerised. It did help that the sun was shining and the temperature was still 22 Celcius at 9 pm in the evening. Everyone was sitting on the restaurant and bar terraces enjoying a good drink or two. People were chatting, eating, laughing – enjoying all those priceless simple pleasures of life. I also noticed the occasional dog owner walking their cuties – and I had to really hold back from running over to cuddle them (the dogs not the owners ;).
For some reason, I always go into a state of pure flow or floating or something purely magical when I’m in continental Europe, and even more so in Antwerp and also Amsterdam. There’s something about both of these cities that puts me into a state of bliss, fuels my creativity like nothing else, and makes me feel like I’m being wrapped in a blanket of belonging. It’s magic.
I spoke to some of my workshop participants about it – and the lovely lady who I got a last minute haircut with. There was a clear consensus that one of the things that drive this magical sensation is their culture of acceptance, non-judgement and minding your own business at play. There, in Antwerp, people seem to just get on with their lives, do what makes them happy, and nobody really comments (most of the time). As long as you’re not disturbing your neighbours or community with your life choices, you’re free to make them as you wish.
I love that. It’s incredibly refreshing. Sure, it’s probably not perfect and it might not be like this 100% of the time but it’s definitely better than in all the other places I’ve been. It’s amazing.
Another thing that drives this air of magic is this clear enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life. So, if you want to bring a little bit of that Antwerp magic into your heart and your surroundings, this is what I encourage you to do.
This city is the opposite of rushing. People are wandering the streets rather than simply running through them. They’re taking the time to sit, to chat, to truly connect. Even the way they eat at restaurants is somehow slower with each bite resulting in a treasured moment of savouring. It’s incredible. They seem to know that all they really have is this moment and hence they’re going to cherish that moment fully. That’s life. That’s beautiful.
Everybody everywhere was sitting outside. The restaurants were deserted inside and packed outside. Yes, of course the good weather helps and if it was chucking it down with rain it might not be the same. Still, there seems to be this constant drive for people to spend as much time as possible outside. To enjoy the fresh air, to enjoy the sunshine, to enjoy the energy of the city and the people in it. Besides, if it’s raining, you can still put your raincoat on and go dance in the rain!
Every time I took out my iPhone to look at Google maps to see where I was going, I felt like I was committing a crime. I rarely saw people with their phones out. In fact, I never saw anybody walking whilst looking at their phone in their hand or anybody leaving their phone on top of the table during dinner. Sure, every now and then somebody received a call or checked their phone if their friend had left their table for a moment, but it was nothing like the smartphone addiction I witness in London. No, the people of Antwerp know how to be in the moment and cherish it. They seem to understand that it’s more important to connect with others than to their phones and that they will control where their attention goes rather than their phones doing it for them.
What are some of the simple pleasures of life that you enjoy the most? Comment below with your thoughts and inspire the rest of the readers with your insights!
With that, I wish you good luck in your adventures and until next time!
Sending you light and love,
P.S. You can still sign-up to my free 5-day e-course on self-love that started on June 11th. Click here to find out more!