How to #BeMoreSwiss, the happiest country in the world
The next evolution for the Balance office will be installing cuckoo clocks on the walls. Why? Because the team recently enjoyed a stupendous #BeMoreSwiss masterclass in central London, thanks to our friends at Ricola, purveyors of beloved, delicious, refreshing (and, indeed, quintessentially Swiss) herbal sweets. After all, we Britons have much to learn from our Alp-based allies, given Switzerland has been voted the happiest country in the world, with its inhabitants enjoying an average life expectancy of 83 (12 years above the global average).
The whole event was enough to make you reach for your finest tract. Taking place at iconic London dining club Mosimann’s, the day included a delicious four-course meal, talks with luminaries Alexandra Dudley (artist and author) and Marie-Hélène Ferguson (principal at the London School of Etiquette) and, with a view to becoming more Swiss (naturally), Anton Mosimann himself. The chef, restaurateur, and raconteur was on hand to dispense his usual wit and wisdom.
Having enjoyed the day first-hand, the Balance team wants to share its top five favourite findings so that you too can #BeMoreSwiss. While you might not be able to enjoy the Alpine air, punctual trains (can you imagine?) and awe-inspiring mountain views, hopefully, these nuggets will make your day that little bit brighter…
1. STRIKE THE RIGHT WORK-LIFE BALANCE
This was a common theme, and something that seems to apply to most Swiss: take your work seriously, but always find the right level of enjoyment. Indeed, Anton Mosimann gave the sort of sprightly talk at the age of 71 years young that provided enough inspiration to have you pack up your troubles and move to Lugano.
There is much to admire about the chef, who has cooked for four generations of the Royal family, and serving Prime Ministers including Tony Blair, John Major and David Cameron. He also regaled attendees with his tale of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, who was entertaining French President François Mitterrand. Maggie was a huge fan of Anton’s cooking, but there was just one problem, she said. “Too expensive.”
2. THE SPICE OF LIFE
Ricola sweets are famed for their delicious secret blend of 13 herbs, which are all grown in the Swiss mountains. Just one of the things that separates Ricola from other sweets is the fact they embrace variety. Such a mindset applies to cooking, and indeed life, so don’t be afraid to add herbs to meals or to embrace variety in life. However, we also learned one crucial tip when it comes to seasoning: it’s good etiquette to provide salt and pepper for guests, but poor etiquette to use it. After all, you’d be hurting the feelings of the chef.
3. MIND YOUR MANNERS
We Britons and our Swiss chums have slightly different rules when it comes to manners and etiquette. However, if the #BeMoreSwiss event taught us anything, it was that we should all be more mindful when it comes to manners. Body language is of paramount importance to the Swiss, who prefer to keep conversation at a full arm’s length, while a handshake should be firm and eye contact maintained throughout. And how’s this for being respectful? We learned in Switzerland it’s illegal to buy just one guinea pig; you have to buy two, otherwise, they get lonely.
4. TAKE TIME TO UNWIND
Remember when a Great British Sunday meant doing nothing? It was the perfect opportunity to kick back. These days, we find ourselves reaching for the work laptop, hitting the shops and treating the supposed “day of rest” as just another opportunity to run ourselves into the ground. However, the Swiss have the right idea. As Marie-Hélène Ferguson explained, both mowing the lawn and even hanging out the washing are deemed a no-no on Sundays.
5. THE GREAT OUTDOORS
This is something friend of Balance, Alexandra Dudley, is particularly passionate about. OK, we can’t walk to the Matterhorn on our lunch break, but London is packed with beautiful and sometimes hidden greenery, so it’s important we make the most of our surroundings. Alight the Tube one stop early and make the most of a beautiful walk, or just take in the here and now. However, you decide to connect, make time for a delicious moment of calm with Ricola sugar-free herbal sweets.