As a 3 part blog series we have touched on the 3 things that we tend to do better when we are on vacation that we somehow forget when we go back to living our regular lives. If we could just carry some of these things back with us into our daily routines, we would all benefit in a big way. First, we slow our lives down to a more enjoyable pace by LIVING IN VACATION MODE, second, we live more simply while we are away by PACKING ONLY THE NECESSITIES. The third thing we get right while we are on vacation is that we live more in the present by doing a better job of PAYING ATTENTION.
Think about the last time you went on vacation, likely, you can remember much of what you did each day that you were away. That's because we tune in to whats going on around us when we are on vacation. Our senses wake up as we slow down a take in new sights, smells, and even tastes, as we try new foods. We make our best memories on vacation and focus on savoring each moment. We forget about our to-do lists and what needs to be done tomorrow and just live for right now. Whether we are sharing special moments with our family or friends, enjoying a meal, sightseeing or just taking a walk, we are going all of these things in a more awake state than usual and we are enjoying the process.
If we do a better job of living in the present when we are on vacation, what would it be like if we could consciously bring some of this presence back with us into our regular schedules?
I have to repeatedly remind myself to stay present when I spend time with my 3 daughters. I am all too aware that their childhood is quickly vanishing. Already, those little girls I had running around the house have been replaced by big teenage girls that aren't home as often. I know I don't have much time left to make memories. Also, I want those memories to be vivid and rich, I don't want vague ones where I was only half engaged because my mind was mostly on my to-do list and on getting things done. I also do not want my best memories to be limited to the few times a year when we were on vacation.
But lets face it, staying present is not easy, it takes practice and effort, and the busier we are, the harder it is to do it. But it is well worth the effort because when we are present, we not only are more engaged and more patient with the people we are with, but we are better listeners too. While we are naturally more apt to wake up to the new sights and experiences that we encounter while on vacation, it is easy to dismiss the present moment on ordinary days when nothing new or unusual is taking place. But with practice and intention, we can get better at paying attention to what is going on right now, even on uneventful, ordinary days.
Just the other night, my 19-year-old came home from work, she was excited about the storm that she noticed brewing in the sky while on her drive home. She took a seat on the front porch and invited me to join her. I put down the task I was working on and sat down next to her. We just sat there watching the lightning show in the sky for a while, taking in all that we were seeing and hearing. Eventually the wind turned angry and the rain became a down pour, and we were forced to go in to avoid getting soaked. But for a short time, we were absorbed in the now, not doing anything other than living and sharing in the moment. At some point, I realized that this was the first time all day that I had stopped being productive. In my mind, I thought - I need more moments like these in my life. My guess is that many of us need more moments like this in our lives. I was so grateful to my daughter for nudging me be present for a little while.
See if you can look for opportunities to savor the present moment more often. Even simple tasks like walking the dog can be done better. As we walk, we can intentionally stop thinking about what needs to get gone when we get home or what problem needs to be solved, and focus instead on the walk itself. We can walk more consciously, and pay attention to all the sights and sounds of nature. We can intentionally listen to the birds singing, and the planes flying overhead. Our brains will appreciate the momentary break from constantly problem solving. Even our pooch will appreciate the extra attention.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.