The Fragrance of Life

Southern Living has long been one of my favorite magazines, one of the few print magazines to which I steadfastly subscribe. While leafing through a recent issue newly retrieved from my mailbox, one full-page ad (pictured below) caught my eye. Now you might assume the radiant, air-brushed smile is what drew my attention … but no.Happiness-1b

Maybe it was the fragrance ? If you’ve thumbed through a print magazine lately, you may have noticed an uptick in scent strip promos for perfume and cologne products. Scent strips can be helpful. They provide fragrance samples so you won’t plunk down a substantial sum just to learn the scent is awful. But the multiple competing scents in a magazine’s single issue might easily lead to sensory overload!

So, no, it wasn’t the toothy expression nor the unexpectedly subtle fragrance, both of which are skillfully designed to generate interest and drive sales. Surprisingly, the text drew me in!

Take a closer look at the tag line:  Life is beautiful. The Fragrance of Happiness.

With a simple search, I learned there were other tag-lines attached to Lancôme’s La vie est belle advertising. The overall theme of Life is beautiful extends naturally from the French phrase. One tag-line declared Life is beautiful. Live It Your Way. Another:  Life is beautiful. Choose Your Own Path to Happiness.

Notwithstanding its variations, Lancôme appears to have settled on The Fragrance of Happiness as its primary tag-line.

Established readers of this blog know I’ve posted frequently about happiness. Several years ago, I wrote a a five-part series entitled The Secret of Happiness. Had I known happiness has its own fragrance, do you supposed I’d have viewed the subject differently, drawn vastly opposite conclusions? [Those who know me well know that’s unlikely.]

By itself, the Lancôme ad would have been dismissed … but a day later, this enclosure (below) arrived with my telephone bill.

Happiness-2b

Your happiness way nicer.

Really? Having certain hardware (in this case, a trophy recognizing excellence in customer satisfaction) somehow paves the way to my happiness? Excuse me while I scratch my head! I get it:  AT&T wants customers to know they’ve received a J.D. Power award six years in a row.

Don’t get me wrong. A company’s dedication to first-rate service and customer satisfaction is important. But if AT&T genuinely seeks my happiness (perceived or actual), a token enclosure with my bill isn’t likely to achieve that end! Demonstrate your singleminded focus on my happiness by doing my laundry, covering my tax bill, fixing a hot meal for me and my family! (Of course, I’d never expect them to perform on such a level.)

[And then there’s the ridiculous notion that personal happiness is (or should be) in the hands of anyone other than myself!]

The French saying, c’est la vie, is apt. That’s Life! (or Such is Life!) The expression may be applied to life at its putrid and sucky worst, or equally to the most precious moments we’re fortunate to experience! Shrug your shoulders in despair or delight … that’s life!

Lancôme observes correctly  — Life Is Beautiful. We should be cautious, though, to avoid a conflation of life with happiness. Happiness is an illusory perfume; it beguiles and quickly fades away. If there is an authentic fragrance of life, it is L – I – F – E itself in all its variability and textures. Breathe it in and be grateful for every breath!

Renée