by Megan McDonough
One of the best things about going away is coming home. For a split second, you see your familiar house anew. There is a freshness about it. The wall color surprises. The squeak of the garage door opening sounds loud. The well water from the faucet tastes different than the bottled water you drank while on the road. In chorus, everything sings, “Welcome home.”
In the homecoming, the heart sighs, content.
Right after the contented sigh comes the rushing onslaught of tasks. You notice the floor is filthy. Accumulated dust covers the shelves. Laundry from the trip is piled high. The fridge is empty, so you have to go food shopping. E-mails and phone calls need to be returned. Vacation is over, time to jump back into the fray.
I wonder, though, can the vacation mindset be lived in everyday life? Can one approach daily habits and routines with a sense of adventure and exploration? Rather than being swept away in the expected norm of 21st-century busyness, with all its technology traps, can we be more deliberate with how we choose to spend the day? Can a Monday feel as spacious and free as a summer day feels to a child?
Living a perpetual vacation calls for questioning routines. My normal work routine is to boot up the computer, check e-mails, and jump into action. Most days, it seems as though the laptop is an extension of my body. “Time to check e-mails,” it whispers. “Come see what someone has sent you.”
Taking a vacation is a choice. The physical separation makes it easier to make a mental separation from the constant tug of tasks. Yet I can make a choice right now to sit outside and enjoy the wind and blue sky as I write on loose-leaf paper rather than my laptop. I can make a choice to take a walk during the day just because I want to—rather than to “get exercise.” I can choose to reply to e-mails and phone calls in a relaxed manner. I can choose to take my time cleaning the house. Or be okay living with a mess.
Vacation is a state of mind. This day was created for your enjoyment, not to ensnare you in the task trap. What vacation vistas can you see today?
Vacation for the Mind
What habits do you notice today? What actions are repeated day in and day out? As you notice the daily rituals, allow your mind to take a vacation from the routine by broadening your awareness.
Brush your teeth in the downstairs bathroom or the kitchen instead of the upstairs bathroom. If you take the same route to work every day, allow your mind to notice a new tree, a different sky, or a radio show you haven’t heard before. As you enter your office, look around for something to be grateful for in the space.
Give your mind a vacation from the routine by switching it up.
This post is adapted from “A Minute for Me: Learning to Savor Sixty Seconds”, © 2012, by Megan McDonough.
Megan McDonough is CEO of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.
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