I hope you had a great weekend! I managed to binge watch the first season of Ted Lasso (it’s as good as you have heard), and spent the weekend planning food for a one-week cottage vacation that I am heading out on next weekend, that included making a very large batch of Chocolate Chip cookies (my signature cottage food) and writing various lists for the multiple shopping trips I will take this week. If I have learned anything about cottage life, I can tell you that food is the saving grace no matter the weather, people, cottage space or comfort. It really matters. And I am not the only one who thinks so!
As many of you know, I already had a vacation, just over a week ago, where I travelled west to visit my brother in Calgary. He put me through my paces — up mountains, on hikes, and two longish bike rides adding up to 100 kms. I don’t even own an outdoor bike so for me just cycling anywhere outside is an accomplishment. Biking on the Legacy Trail in the mountains, and on the 1A highway to Johnston Canyon (currently closed to traffic) was pretty spectacular by my standards, even if very tame by other cyclists” standards. I would totally recommend it! And of course, spending time in a different place, with different people, doing different things — well, that was spectacular, too. You don’t have to go far to make that possible.
So what’s the point of me sharing this sandwich of vacations, past and future, with you? Good question… here are a couple of reasons:
My primary goal is to encourage you to take a vacation this summer! We all need time off and in fact, it is important to your health to do so! I am hopeful that those of you who have not yet planned time away will give this a good rethink and make a plan! Please, talk to your supervisor or Manager and fit personal time into your calendar if possible. I am a living example that anyone can make time to get away from the usual routine — no matter how full your plate is. And for those of us who work in a team atmosphere, part of the benefit of being part of a team is that other team members can help support your work and you, when you are on vacation or away from the office for whatever reason.
Another reason for sharing vacation stories is that when we return from a vacation, talking about it extends the fun and happiness — reliving through telling! And by sharing your vacation after the fact, we are reminded of some of the special small experiences you have had. You can also get the most out of this by savouring every moment while you are away, whether that is through journaling, or being extra mindful about experiencing amazing micro moments of joy. Regardless, we want to wring every minute out of the experience while living it, and maximize the afterglow, too. So if you have already taken a vacation, tell someone about it and share your experiences to relive them.
Upon my return from Calgary, I decided to double down on the vacation happiness and that experience of feeling rested and more in control of my outlook and decided to take up the Coursera course on the Science of Well Being – with Laurie Santos — a multi week program that will allow me to focus on what it means to be happy. Kind of like an episodic vacation mindset! I thought it would be a great way of maintaining the HIGH that I brought back from my vacation and it is free! The course pushes me to think about happiness, what makes us/me happy (and misconceptions about happiness), expectations we have around happiness, and how to develop strategies to put this into practice for ourselves and others.
One awesome connection I discovered is that this course ties to the VIA Character strengths survey (also free!) many of us have taken. The course shares with us that “research shows knowing and using your character strengths can strengthen relationships, boost happiness and improve wellbeing”, so if you have been consciously stepping into your strengths, my guess is that your happiness scale is higher! Using your strengths is how we can work in flow and that is a bit like being on vacation — time just flies! If you haven’t been aware of character strengths and how they can ‘boost happiness‘, this is a great way to understand it and put it into practice.
And I can also take this learning with me for a bike or walk as Dr. Santos also has a podcast, called The Happiness Lab! Maybe a good soundtrack when you are on your vacation!
I hope you feel inspired. Have a great week and vacation season, everyone!