Last week I gave you a peak into how the French plan their vacation days well in advance, to ensure they get the maximum amount of time off. And if you know anything about the French approach work-life balance, it shouldn’t surprise you that if you want to fit in in France, you need to start by learning how to chill.

I say this as someone who is notoriously terrible at relaxing.

When I get 5 minutes of free time, I start thinking about my next project. And for a lot of us, we don’t get to where we are (and move to a whole new country!) without at least a baseline level of ambition and ability to get things done.

But the truth is, that it’s GOOD to relax. It’s good to take a break, and disconnect from work (in fact, it’s a right under French labor law!) and come back fresh a few days (or weeks) later.

And while there have been lots of studies evaluating Europeans and Americans on everything from wine consumption to the Mediterranean vs SAD (Standard American Diet) to universal healthcare, I wonder how much of the difference can be attributed to work-related stress and the inability to disconnect

Because even when you’re doing meaningful work, and work that you love – it’s still work.

And the French know how to put it down, and walk away, and the value of being able to start again with a renewed perspective. Later