In this hurry-up, multi-tasking, mad-dash world, quiet moments are more precious than ever. But devote a few to Christine Eisner’s new tome and you’ll surely go forward in a less-frenetic way.
Comfort Living—A Back-to-Basics Guide to a More Balanced Lifestyle (Lifestyle Design; $19.95) is devoted to the author’s single goal: to help people live better. The premise of her company, Lifestyle Design, is to reach beyond furnishings per se to improve the way people experience their living spaces. “Living well is very straightforward,” she says. “A home should be an authentic and evolving expression of who you really are and what you value in life. The challenge comes in striking a balance in the day-to-day, so that distractions and obstacles don’t obscure the things that really matter.”
To that end, her book takes the reader down a path of self-discovery. You have to know yourself well—be aware of your wants and needs—before you can live well, she points out. But what led her to “discover” the concept of a balanced lifestyle? “I think it was a personal need for me—and continues to be,” she says. “I’ve spent a lot of time traveling and living in different cultures. I’m a Swiss and U.S. dual citizen. I majored in Chinese and studied in France. I moved here from London, after living in New York and San Francisco. And if I’ve learned anything it’s that everyone does things differently.
“Even when I was studying interior design, I cared more about why people live the way they do, I was more into the psychology of space.”
Several years ago, she retreated to the family’s vacation home with the word “balance” foremost in her mind. She knew that people were too focused on the “destination” and not enough on the “journey.” At the same time, something Sir Winston Churchill said kept coming back to her: “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us.”
And with that, Lifestyle Design was born. She no longer practices interior design but, instead, helps people look at how and where they live through a different lens. “I try to give them the tools and the conﬁdence to move forward,” Eisner says, “whether they’re working with an interior designer or on their own.”
Eisner’s concept translates perfectly to the holidays, too. “The entire holiday season can be so crazy,” she says. “People need to stop and smell the holly.”
She suggests, for instance, “to limit tech time. The holidays are always a busy time for our family; I’m Christian and my husband is Jewish—and we celebrate both. Plus, my son’s birthday is thrown in there. I make an effort to carve out no-tech time, to leave my Blackberry in the car while I’m shopping or leave it upstairs on the weekends.”
Likewise, Eisner recommends turning holiday shopping into a meaningful experience. “My husband and I make a date of it. I’ll have a list of gifts we need to get and we pick them out together; it’s really an enjoyable experience. Then we’ll treat ourselves to dinner and a movie, stay at a hotel and go out for brunch the next morning.”
Finally, give your own family a dinner party—and put it on the calendar like any other holiday event. And what if another invitation comes along for your chosen evening? “Invitations are not orders,” she adroitly points out. “You can say no.”
But holidays or not, Eisner has simple words of wisdom for anyone searching for more balance: Look inside yourself and ﬁgure out what matters to you most.