How to keep the vacation-mind all year round

Summer is in full swing and vacation time is just around the corner. Have you ever noticed that your “being on vacation” persona differs quite a bit from the everyday self? This was certainly true for Danielle and I during the week we recently took off to celebrate my birthday and our 20th kiss-aversary. Besides biking, kayaking and even caving, we also walked three days and 40 miles on the “Compostelle”, the pilgrimage path that leads from France to the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela in North-West Spain. While most people march for at least 2 weeks (the entire journey takes about 2 to 3 months), we just dipped our toes into an experience many people, movies and books have depicted as transformational. Three days of walking together with other ‘pilgrims,’ most of which were more on the quest to find themselves than the tomb of Saint James, convinced us to continue the path next year for a stretch of two weeks.

You could argue that walking the Compostelle is hard work; you get up early, hike for many miles shouldering your backpack, you struggle with heat and thunderstorms, and at the end of the day you count your blisters. Yet, as you are setting one foot in front of each other to traverse anything from magical landscapes to hostile terrain, you enter into some sort of meditative state, which literally vacates your mind – which is ultimately what vacationing should be all about.

One phenomena of this vacation was that it changed our sense of time. While during our normal life time flies by, here, a day seemed to have 36 hours, which is why it didn’t feel like we were just gone for 7 days, but more like for 2 or 3 weeks. However, this isn’t the only difference between the vacation-mind and the ‘work-mind.’

For most people, vacationing also means to take a break from their routines and usual ways of being. You may be more open, curious and ready to find enjoyment in almost everything you do. Or, you may be more relaxed, easy-going and not so hard on yourself. In the vacation state of mind each day appears more free, fun and fulfilling.

So what would life be like if we didn’t limit the vacation mind to only a few weeks per year, but use some of its qualities every day? Since life is a journey, wouldn’t it make sense that with a vacation state of mind, we are more likely to get the most out of it?

Here are a few tips on how to adopt the vacation mind into your day-to-day life:

  • Be present and take a wider perspective: Do you ever notice, how on vacation you choose to focus on what is positive, pleasant and enjoyable? But as soon as you are back home you get overwhelmed by your to-do-lists, annoyed by your colleagues at work and stressed by the bills that have piled up in your mailbox? Being in vacation mind doesn’t mean that you become ignorant or negligent. However, it gives you a wider perspective on your day to day life and allows you to appreciate the people that love and care about you, your pets that look at you with adoration, the blue sky or the beautiful trees in your neighborhood…
  • Be spontaneous and find joy in small things: The vacation-mind is curious and eager to have fun. Aren’t there countless opportunities to spice up your life on a daily basis? Change up your routine and have a chocolate croissant for breakfast; at lunch time take a walk in the sun, rather than chewing your sandwich in front of the computer; pretend to be a tourist in your own town and take pictures of all the cool things you usually ignore; take a new route home from work and discover neighborhoods you may have never visited before.
  • Be open and go at your own rhythm:  I don’t know about you, but for me the work mind seems to operate at much higher velocity and with greater urgency than the vacation-mind. The day-to-day state of mind tells you that you are somehow behind, you need to multi-task to stay on top of things and be able to compete, and that analyzing the past or preparing for the future are far more important than being present with what is right in front of you. This drive-by way of living isn’t only exhausting, it also makes the years rush by faster without really giving you a greater sense of joy and purpose. With the vacation mind you can approach life in a more relaxed way, because your priority is to experience life and to make the best out of it. You remember that life is a journey, and you treasure the experiences you gain along the way; every task and every encounter is perceived as an opportunity to discover more about yourself and the world around you. The vacation mind doesn’t believe in comparison or competition; it thrives on collecting moments that are meaningful and memorable.

While it is, for most of us, impossible to enjoy a permanent vacation, approaching life in a more relaxed and joy-focused mindset is certainly within our reach. Having a vacation-mind as our default setting can make our life not only more exciting but also increase our creativity and productivity.

Join me on Empowerment Radio this Thursday, July 4th at 9AM PT / 12PM ET (Happy Independence Day!) and learn how you can keep a vacation mind-set to bring more joy, meaning and fulfillment into your life.

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