Today is Queen’s Birthday so New Zealand is taking a holiday. It’s Monday and we are not going to work. We are doing what we really want to do. We don’t have someone asking for reports or piles of paperwork to do. We don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, we are finally living our lives. Finally. And then we will collectively all go back to work. Shoulders will drop a little, lines will re-etch themselves back onto our faces, we might feel a little down or we might start to think ‘what am I doing?’
When we go on holiday our life seems so limitless. We can lie in a hammock and read. We can dream about living a life of luxury or moving to the sea. We think about our gardens and we design in our head how our house will look after the renovations. We are generally feeling a lot lighter and at ease. It’s almost as if the holiday surrounds us in an electro-magnetic field of limitless possibilities. This is the life we say to ourselves and we drink the cocktails. This I want to remember we think as we snap another photo. Even while we are on holiday somehow we are in the future busily planning how wonderful everything will be. We are lying in the hammock taking a photo of a life we are living but we are not seeing that life we are only thinking of how we will tell others about the fabulous trip.
So what happens when the party is over, the Queen’s birthday finished, the holiday a distant memory? Here are some things to remember to help re-enter the atmosphere of daily life without a pang of wistfulness.
Your life is what you are doing now. Sure that may be the dishes or homework or deadlines. The fantasy of how your life could be when it was on holiday is just that, a fantasy. Real life is the dishes and the laundry and the deadlines. Learn to encompass each part of your life without longing for it to be anything other than what it is.
While you are on holiday you probably had some time for contemplation about yourself or the life you lead. Take whatever you learnt about yourself and try to integrate it into your daily life. If you really enjoyed taking time out to exercise or read then make that non-negotiable in your everyday life. Take the elements of the holiday you liked and knit them into your day-to-day living.
If the thought of going back to work is truly stressful for you then take this as something to learn about yourself. What is it that is so different about yourself on holiday? Where does this best version of you disappear to when you come home? We spend half our life at work. Maybe your perspective changes when you re-enter your work? Can you smooth out the emotional bumps in your transition from holiday to work?
Practice for today: Jon Kabbat-Zin’s book is entitled ‘where ever you go there you are’. Changing our physical location does not really change us. We are still the same person in a different place. Learning to relax and be with whatever our day presents to us, where ever we are is true mindfulness in action. Having the skill to remember this is pure genius.