4 things the British can learn from Californians

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The sheer amount of songs, style and shows modelled on California means there must be something to the lifestyle. Here, Brit-turned-Cali writer Sally Hennings makes her case…

When I moved from London to Los Angeles, one of the most disconcerting discoveries was how quickly I lost my ability to hold onto a bad mood. 

Back in Britain, with the rain pouring down, the tired faces on public transport and the sarky jokes at work, I could go a good two weeks without ever shaking off the hump. 

Out in California, however, things were different. I was woken by sunlight to the sight of bright pink bougainvillea growing out of my windowbox. 

Then there were the inexplicable smiles from my overly friendly neighbours, who had just juiced the tropical fruit that grew freely on the trees lining our street.

I found I could only really keep a grump going for about two hours, tops. 

Gradually, I was converted to a world where “How are you?” was a real question, and people actually stuck around to hear the response. 

So, it’s time to share the secrets of Californian cool, and make the case for how even the most cynical Brit can be more Cali. 

1. Take a hike

When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, the best thing about Californians is their ability to trick themselves into transforming exercise into an enormous adventure.

If you ever hear an LA celebrity discuss their grand passion for hiking, please be aware that this actually translates into British English as ‘going for a walk’. You don’t need crampons, carabiners or even a backpack – a Cali hike is simply a stroll a little way past where the houses stop.

But by turning it into a big activity instead of exercise, a healthy lifestyle is a) more fun and b) more achievable. 

After all, exercise isn’t really exercise when you’re rambling through the great outdoors vs sweating it out on a worn-out treadmill.

So, to be more Cali, simply take a hike.

2. Keep it minimal

The key to Cali style is to keep it minimal but high quality, whether that’s real denim or newly dropped trainers in a fresh white tone.

A solid look starts with a classic trainer such as the aptly named Cali trainer by Puma – it’s fresh from the courts with a West Coast street style edge. Team it with a prairie dress and denim jacket, and you’re ready to hit the coast.

While effortless is the look of the day, don’t be fooled by the no make-up, vintage vibe of California’s deconstructed bohemians. Sure, they might appear carefree, but that isn’t the same as scruffy. To paraphrase Dolly Parton, it takes a lot of effort to look this casual, from hefty hair masks to glow-worthy facials.

A Cali girl might be wearing a pair of Daisy Dukes she found at a thrift store, but she probably spent more on the Moon Juice probiotic green smoothie she’s holding.

3. Be an oversharer

We Brits need to drop the, ‘Sorry, but…’ and be honest.

That doesn’t mean being obnoxious. To be more Cali, you have to learn to express your reactions to things as they happen, but in a calm and generous manner. And all while trying not to make the other person feel bad.

Obviously, this means you’ll have to make time to hear the other person’s feelings too, so you also have to learn to listen.

Or, if you really can’t manage that, at least learn to nod sympathetically while waiting for your turn to speak.

More than anything else, the biggest lesson I learnt was giving myself the space to be calm and open.

If that sounds impossible, there are manageable steps to get there, whether it’s that guided meditation podcast or starting to call people out on their BS in a more considered way instead of letting it fester.

However you get there, Californians are committed to this.

I once interviewed a West Coast TV producer who’d taken her husband straight from their wedding to her therapist’s office for a debrief on their marriage vows. They didn’t even change their clothes.

OK, so that might be taking the talking cure to extremes (and funnily enough, they did get divorced), but one thing Californians sure love doing is expressing their feelings.

Let’s face it, it’s a lot healthier than the British tradition of swallowing our frustration and resentment until it all comes blurting out in a rush, often months after the fact.

4. Keep it fresh

While we’re all moving towards organic, sustainable food, the Californians also have their food as fresh as possible. 

We’re talking ‘farm-to-fork’ eating inspired by California’s plethora of vineyards and farms.

It may be slimmer pickings in London, but we can all swap a Papa John’s for a fresh potato.

Get into the Cali state of mind with the Puma Cali Trainer