you might be a bon vivant if...

Unfortunately, the term bon vivant is one that is not well understood or is often misconstrued to be an individual who puts on airs or enjoys a excessively lavish, high-priced lifestyle.

Of course, I couldn’t disagree more. So in an effort to clear up any confusion, I’ve penned what I hope will be an informative series of clues that will more clearly define what it means to be a bon vivant and help you decide if you are one of that illustrious ilk known as bon vivants.

Let’s get started, shall we?
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You enjoy and actively seek out experiences involving food, drink, and travel

Source: lawsofmodernwoman.tumblr.com via kisha on Pinterest

 

Bon vivants are sensualists at heart, and anything that stimulates the senses is right up their alley. It’s no surprise that the bon vivant’s greatest passion is food and drink, since dining is one of life’s activities that involves all five senses at once. Travel is generally a close second, since it offers the bon vivant the opportunity for new culinary experiences.  The thorough enjoyment and passionate pursuit of good food, good drink, and good company is a tell-tale sign of a bon vivant.
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You like work, but only if you can have fun doing it.

Living the good life doesn’t usually conjure up images of workday drudgery. So, many bon vivants  will only pursue professions that they truly enjoy. But not every bon vivant has a cool job, nor is everyone with a cool job a bon vivant. Many bon vivants have fairly traditional jobs, but very non-traditional career paths or working schedules. One bon vivant I know literally works to travel, and spends up to 2 months a year away from his high-profile corporate job. Another I know has no job to speak of, and lives modestly (but well) off income from past investments. And yet another bon vivant friend has taken a 2-year-on, 1-year-off approach to employment. She works in her chosen field for about 2 years, then takes every 3rd year to do whatever she likes, whether it be travel, volunteer work, or work on her never-quite-finished novel.
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You enjoy having money only because it enables your lifestyle

“Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.” – Groucho Marx

For bon vivants, the amount of money they have is secondary to the type of lifestyle they lead. In fact, many bon vivants aren’t anywhere near wealthy, and aren’t driven by financial gain. But since they value high quality experiences, bon vivants usually have the financial means to indulge their tastes. As previously revealed, many bon vivants choose non-traditional jobs to earn money. Some bon vivants were simply born into money. Others, unfortunately, may resort to less scrupulous methods to maintain their lifestyles, including cons, marrying for money, or becoming a ‘kept’ man or woman.

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You have an extensive and varied social network


Bon vivants love to surround themselves with interesting people. Especially those with unusual occupations, intriguing conversations or personality traits that the bon vivant finds entertaining in some way.

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You have above average intelligence


Bon vivants tend to not only be well-educated, but also well-learned. They are perpetual students, always seeking to learn new ideas, languages, skills, and concepts. But unlike academicians or scholars, bon vivants often get bored with classroom learning, and prefer to learn by experience. Bon vivants are likely to opt for apprenticeships and self-directed learning to sharpen their intelligence instead of rigorous classroom instruction and advanced degrees.

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You’re a Jack or Jill of all trades

The bon vivant’s love of novelty inspires him to cultivate many interests and skills, and he’s usually experienced enough in all of them to be dangerous. As a result, bon vivants thrive in careers or professions where they can be generalists or universal adapters versus specializing in one well-defined area of practice.

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You’re equally philosophical, spiritual, and religious

Because of their unconventional ways of thinking and living, bon vivants aren’t likely to be strictly religious. They may even have their own sense of morality or spirituality that is a hybrid of several religions or philosophical traditions. Yet even professed atheist bon vivants will usually have a strong sense of right and wrong that guides their behavior and is reflected in the behaviors and philosophies of their friends and associates.
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You tend to overindulge in both work and pleasure, often to the detriment of your health

“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends – It gives a lovely light.” ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Bon vivants are known for burning the candle at both ends. Since their work is also their play, they are likely to spend long hours at their profession, with seemingly endless energy for the tasks at hand. Bon vivants put as much energy into their leisure (especially wining and dining) as they do their work. Though this work hard, play harder mentality often earns them the admiration of their associates, it can be quite detrimental to their mental and physical health. The bon vivant’s penchant for packing a lot of living into a short period of time is one reason – I’m sad to say – that many bon vivants throughout history have died relatively young.

“Human happiness and contentment involve so much more than improved material conditions… to say this is not to decry the importance of material alleviations, only to insist that they do not by themselves produce the good life.” – John Hewetson

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You value high-quality goods, services, and experiences


Bon vivants have high standards of quality, but aren’t necessarily big spenders. A bon vivant will go out of her way for the higher quality item, but isn’t necessarily swayed by the more expensive item.

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You are uninhibited (or less inhibited than most) or gregarious


There’s a reason that bon vivants tend to have such a wide and diverse circle of friends. They have no problem striking up conversation with relative strangers. And because of their diverse experiences and education, they’re generally able to find something to talk about with almost anyone. This social self-assuredness makes the bon vivant both fun to have and easy to spot at parties. He’s usually the one enthralling a small group of people with his sparkling wit, a funny story, or a string of well-timed bon mots between sips of his drink.
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You are heavily dependent on rewards from others


Since bon vivants are such social creatures, they will often choose professions with higher visibility and influence, even if it means lower pay. More than most, the bon vivant is motivated by people’s appreciation of her and her work. This is why many bon vivants tend to thrive as performers, artists, and politicians. Read Psychology Today’s ‘Field Guide to the Bon Vivant’ for more on this trait.

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You’re somewhat irreverent or a button pusher

Bon vivants are very keen on social graces and will shun those who obviously lack them – as it offends their sensibilities and love of beauty. However, bon vivants enjoy thwarting or challenging conventional ideas, and the bon vivant is often the first to bring up a controversial subject or adopt an unconventional, eyebrow-raising lifestyle.
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You dress well and/or in a way that expresses your uniqueness


To the bon vivant, image isn’t everything, but it’s pretty damned important. Bon vivants love to express themselves, and their choice of clothing is one of the main ways by which they do it. In other areas of life, bon vivants tend to gloss over the fine points, but when it comes to their clothing, they’re all about the details. Accessories like feathers, hats, scarves, bow ties, rings, and brooches are favorites of the bon vivant, as are unique blends of contemporary and classic styles.

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You enjoy life to the fullest


Bon vivants recognize that living a good life doesn’t mean there will be no bad times. In fact, it’s the bad times that make the good times taste even sweeter. Whether they’re down on their luck or riding high, bon vivants find a reason to celebrate life for as long as they live.

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” – W. M. Lewis
“May you live every day of your life.” – Jonathan Swift