The most important thing for me is living in a place that I enjoy visually and keeping my home clean and organized. How is this related to Joie de Vivre? There are plenty of studies showing that waking up to a messy room will keep your mind cluttered and therefore it will be harder for you to focus through the day which can translate into potential troubles at work and also in your interaction with others. So when I wake up and everything in my room is where it is supposed to be, it smells fresh and I know where everything I need is placed, then I can use the space in my mind to focus on starting my day feeding excitement into what is about to happen.
As a part of my series about how to live with Joie De Vivre, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Maria Dibu.
Ana Maria Dibu is a Eastern European coach, writer and speaker with a background of 5 years working in the Government of her country in the Protocol Department where she learned firsthand how manners and etiquette can either elevate or sink you in everyday social and professional settings.
She studied Political Science in French and Conflict Analysis and Resolution in International Relations where she acquired her first speaking engagements leading her to taking later on the decision to dedicate herself to a career in speaking and later on coaching and writing.
Her experience with the Protocol Department inspired her to organize a series of speaking events where she shared about her understanding of this lifestyle and how it can be applied to anyone no matter the family background or financial and social status which also became the subject of her latest ebook — “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman” (www.thefearlessman.com/lifestyle).
Ana Maria has been offered speaking engagements in over 5 countries among which the United States and has held over 30 talks on various themes ranging from international relations to geopolitics, lifestyle, personal growth, etiquette and many more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Thank you so much for having me! I’ve been guided through my life by parents and family first, then teachers and society to live a life that’s beautiful and up to the highest standards. I am also a strong believer in the saying “Each day presents you a good opportunity to make the world a better place” and in the fact that we can still live beautifully in a world that focuses more on practicality than essence.
As anyone these days, I noticed that sadly people don’t get too deep in the complexity of life and by that they miss the essence of it and its beauty. Therefore, one day as I was sitting in my previous office I thought to myself “How can I bring more goodness in the world? How can I give a part of myself and how I show life to people so they will see how easy it is to live a beautiful and happy life?” and this is how the idea of my Manners Program came up as well as my latest ebook “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman”.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
For me the most surprising moment was during my first speech about living a beautiful life and I remember feeling all the passion I have for this way of living and it feeling my heart and eyes with tears of happiness because of the emotion and excitement of having my message heard by such a extended group of people and it all got coated with the most special thing that day: people took out their note pads and took notes of my speech.. they HEARD me and RESONATED with me! What an honor and privilege to be understood and my message meaning something to my audience! I felt so fulfilled in that moment!!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I speak multiple language and I like to address my clients during my coaching in their native language whenever I can and this one time I forgot to switch from French back to English to address to the next client and I spoke to him for about a minute in French wondering why he was so confused. It only became obvious when he said after I finished speaking “I don’t speak French”. It made me feel so embarrassed in the moment but I learnt that I need to be more mindful and present in the moment to avoid such mistakes and confuse people.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Without any doubt, my mother is the one who shaped me ever since I was a little girl and I couldn’t be more grateful and more fortunate to have her as a mother.
She was very loving but also very demanding with my instruction even in my early years but that teached me that without a solid base, you cannot build a strong character.
My mother started first by training my mind and behavior so initially she was instructing me daily on my manners and I was taking chess classes starting with the age of 4 as well as learning to read. As soon as my reading became decent, I moved into learning French, took dance classes, painting classes as well as piano classes but the things that always mattered most to my mother were honesty, respect and discipline and this is what I think shaped me in the person that I am today.
I have a fun little story that I learned early in my childhood — prioritizing. I was about 4 years old and as me and my mother were walking in a store I was eating a snack. Not hearing any “Hello or Good Morning” from me, my mom started lecturing me about how important was to greet people and how disappointed she was I didn’t remembered something as basic as that to which I answered “I thought we’re not supposed to speak while chewing food”. Of course, my mother appreciated that I respected the most important rule in that context but the moment stays to this day very vivid in my mind and reminds me to be mindful of how certain things we do may be misinterpreted by people around us.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I think it all depends on perspective when we define #18 as low considering the total number of countries in the world but the reason why I think it’s lower than in other countries is because I noticed in the US society that more than in other countries people focus primarily on money than on relationships and connecting with each other. I am not saying they should put money aside because it would be a utopia but I think this society specifically lost the meaning of truly connecting with other people and as we all know we are social animals, we need to be together.
I also noticed a different dynamic in family environment in a sense where opposed to Eastern Europe where families are one of the most important value and we stay together and gather as often as we can to celebrate life and be with each other in a more extended format than just parents and children, in the US some people haven’t seen their parents in years, so how could they cultivate that feeling of belonging and being loved for who they are of they are never in the environment to feed those experiences?
Another important aspect is healthcare. I don’t think I’ve ever observed a system that takes this little care of the health of its own people. Health is a fundamental human right and I noticed that in the US for most people health care is a source of stress, worry and sometimes it is simply unattainable for them, so if a fundamental need like this isn’t met, how could people look further to a happier life and start making it happen for them?
Can you share with our readers your 5 strategies to live with more Joie De Vivre? Can you please give a story or example for each?
The most important thing for me is living in a place that I enjoy visually and keeping my home clean and organized. How is this related to Joie de Vivre? There are plenty of studies showing that waking up to a messy room will keep your mind cluttered and therefore it will be harder for you to focus through the day which can translate into potential troubles at work and also in your interaction with others. So when I wake up and everything in my room is where it is supposed to be, it smells fresh and I know where everything I need is placed, then I can use the space in my mind to focus on starting my day feeding excitement into what is about to happen. I try to keep my agenda filled with things that make me excited to do and when it’s not the case, I make sure to have at least one thing to make me wait with excitement to experience. So my day will always start with focusing on the best things in that day which will throw a light on the ones I’m not very excited to do. For example, this one day I had a lot of unpleasant chores in the local administrative institution and felt really unmotivated because no one really likes to deal with that but I made sure to schedule a massage appointment at the end of the day because that always relaxes me and sets me in a great mood and knowing I have that appointment gave me such a motivation to go through the day as successful as possible so I can get my reward at the end of it.
The next most important thing for me is my workout. I cannot go a day without exercising — may it be a long walk, going to the gym, a bike ride, a dance class. When I’m in motion I am the happiest and working out tops that with the feeling of achievement whenever I grow over physical limits in my trainings; and that is very important for me because on top of feeling happy to move I gain more confidence in my capacities and set a good mood for the rest of the day. The most relevant moment was when I first managed to run for 30 minutes straight on the treadmill. I was never great with cardio and the most I could do up to that point was 12 minutes, but that day I decided that I can do 15 and since I didn’t felt too tired I decided to extend it to 20 and I could and felt so motivated and empowered by my already achievement that decided to see if I can do 30 and I did!! Needless to say, I felt all through my day like a super hero and so confident and powerful which kept my mood elevated and my professional results extremely satisfying.
Eating and drinking are not just a necessity, they are an experience for me. Yes, I do have moments when I hurry but that’s very rare because I am an excellent planner so most of the time, I make sure I set the table properly and when I eat, I focus on the tastes and flavors of my food as well as the textures and smells which makes every single bite absolutely divine. But in order to do that, I do not allow myself to be distracted by my phone, TV or laptop because any distraction would remove me from the experience and on top of not really enjoying the food, I would also eat more than necessary because my body won’t register in time how much I am actually consuming. I have a funny little story related to enjoying food. I am a big fan of chocolate and I consider it the magic cure for anything. This one afternoon, after taking a break from eating chocolate for about a month I went to this cafe I like very much and ordered their chocolate cake. I took the first bite and felt the experiencing of eating chocolate after so much time in my whole body so intensely that it must have showed on my face because a few seconds after a lady from a table next to mine came over and told me “I have never seen someone enjoying a bite of cake this much in my entire life! Must be a very delicious one!” therefore she ordered herself the same cake but after trying it she couldn’t understand how mine “was so different than hers” since it was the same cake…the difference laid in how we approached the experience of tasting that cake.
I always look for beauty in everyday life and I assure you it is always there, you just need to allow it to present to you. For example, as I’m walking down the street, I am watching the light of the sun on buildings and nature and observe it’s warmth, the different shades and colors it projects into the world or if it is a rainy day, I like to watch the water sliding down on windows and listening to it’s calming sound as it is falling. This reminds me of this one day when I was coming home from my previous job after a not so happy day so I decided to not end the day in that mood and started looking for beauty as I was wondering on the streets in a little detour from home and slowly the beauty started to show up: the beautiful and very decorated architecture of the 19th century, the light of the sun setting making the whole city look like the set of a romantic movie, a few birds chirping around and bringing so much joy to my ears and as I was approaching my home, one of the neighbors was playing piano and the very beautiful sound was feeling the entire yard and alley… how magical that end of the day felt to me and how much happier I felt compared to the moment of exiting my office. There is beauty in everything but experiencing it is a choice.
Gratitude is one of the most important for me because it keeps me in check and aware of what I have, who I am and what a beautiful life I live. It’s so easy to focus on the negative and forget the good we experience so I personally keep a gratitude journal where I write down every night before I go to sleep at least 10 things (I always write more) I am grateful for. Doing that helps me on two levels: being aware of how well I am doing and go to sleep in a great mood. I remember when I first started my gratitude journal a few years ago I was quite reserved because I couldn’t see the benefits of it but thought of giving it a try … and I am so happy I did because in less than a month I started seeing a significant improvement in my mood and also made me realize all the great things happening every day and what a fabulous life I have. Ever since that moment, I never skipped a day in my gratitude practice because it helped me a tremendous amount and it still does in the not so high days.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
The first one may come a surprise for many because it’s such a simple book but it is “Who moved my cheese?” by Spencer Johnson because it set me free with this one question toward the end of it “What would you do if you were not afraid?” and that resonated so much with me and made me realize what is the key to a free and therefore happy life that it still shines its light upon me.
“Noblesse oblige” by Christine Gräfin von Brühl because it combines good lessons of enjoying life with proofs that it can be attained by living in the same time beautifully.
“The Successful Mind Podcast” by David Neagle is another inspiring source for me because it touches on the spiritual side of things and I think we are a whole that comprises also spirituality.
Some other resources that feed my soul are going to the Opera and going to Art Exhibitions and Museums to fill my heart and mind with beautiful things.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote that inspires Joie de Vivre is “When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.” Because once you understand it is up to you, you take the responsibility for it, make your choice and act on that, you are free form any constraints you thought you have and can be the best version of yourself without having to ask for permission or feel guilty for it because it is already yours, you only have to claim it. In may case this quote made me realize it’s not up to anyone else to make me happy other than myself and that’s when I started building and maintaining my happiness everyday because in my opinion happiness is not a given but construct and as any construct it needs a solid base, good structure and maintenance.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think this happened through the fact that the more I grew in popularity, the more people had access to me, therefore more of my teachings about how to live a better and more beautiful life reached a larger audience because we all need a little grace in our lives nowadays.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Following to the launching of my latest ebook “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman” (www.thefearlessman.com/lifestyle) I am working on a woman’s version of the ebook called “The Lifestyle of a Lady”. You can follow my progress on my facebook.com/dibu.maria and on Instagram as @athena.travels
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Since my main mission is to promote living beautifully this is the movement I’d like to inspire in the world because it is not at that level yet and I think that’s why people don’t enjoy life as much or don’t enjoy it as in depth as possible because they weren’t presented that option so therefore, they cannot know there is another way of living other than “making it through life” but not fully living it.
By living beautifully I mean adopting a lifestyle that seeds in among other things self confidence, self respect as well as Joie de Vivre that for so many is a very abstract notion or even a fantasy. Therefore, I hold classes on Lifestyle and write and promote my ebooks on this topics hoping to spread the word as much as I can.
Thank you for these excellent insights!
Thank you very much for considering me for this interview!