Aaaaahhh vacation. The moment we dream about all year. Yet, how many times has your vacation been a disappointment? Or you find that the temporary lift it gave you vanished faster than the time it took to unpack?
What’s wrong – do we expect too much? Actually we expect too little. Rather than consciously planning to have fulfilling, nourishing vacations, we often think that pure, mindless escape from our everyday routine is what will make us happy.
So we plan our vacations to be loaded with rest and relaxation activities laced with overindulgence of our bodies and pocketbooks or – at the other extreme – frenetic activity schedules and packed travel itineraries that leave no time for quality experiences and a feeling of exhaustion upon returning home.
The reasons we do this are many. Sometimes it’s as simple as having bought into western society’s commonly-held vacation concepts preaching that a quick-fix zone-out or a high-powered dash through a country or even a continent will pump us up for coping with life’s battles for the next round. Sometimes the vacation choices we make reflect more deeply our personal situation and state of mind.
Too often we go through our vacations in a fog, not realizing that we’ve substituted a sense of activity for real purpose; we expect to feel refreshed, when exactly the opposite is true. Often the obstacle is what I call “soft addictions” that keep us from discovering and feeding our deeper, more spiritual hungers to live, to feel and experience our lives, to grow and develop, to connect, to express ourselves, to make a difference, to be part of something bigger.
What are some soft addictions that can overtake our decisions and our lives, even our vacations? They are often associated with the way we approach gambling, eating and drinking, shopping or collecting trivia, as well as exercising, celebrity following, and fantasizing through reading materials, surfing the Internet, and channel switching during hours of television viewing.
Recreation is basic to the purpose of a vacation. Recreation means “to restore to life, refreshment by recreating oneself”. To recreate is to refresh ourselves, to heal, to recharge our batteries and reorient ourselves to a more nourishing, successful life. You don’t re-create or refresh yourself with soft addictions. Instead, you become less of yourself.
We don’t realize how many things we can do to recharge our batteries, help us resolve our feelings, help us get in touch with our vision and goals, and provide much needed perspective. A conscious vacation brings more life, love and meaning to our lives. It is like a little life sabbatical that leaves us ready to re-enter our lives with fresh perspective and new energy.
A vacation is a perfect time to learn how to live without our soft addictions. Away from familiar routines, we can break new ground more successfully. By adding more nourishing activities, planning soul-filling moments, spending genuine time with ourselves, our loved ones, nature, and spirit, we can re-discover how satisfying life can be.
As you plan your vacation, therefore, focus less on where you’re going and more on the larger purpose. It’s fine to go to the beach and read a page-turner. Just be sure that you take some time to watch the waves roll in and read a book that makes you stop and think every time you turn that page.
Get to know yourself better rather than distract yourself. Really connect with your loved ones. Interview your spouse like you did when you were dating. Expose your children (and yourself!) to new and different activities. Enjoy their discoveries and see them fresh, outside of normal routines.
When we plan vacations to meet our deeper hungers, real magic happens. We feed our soul – and that lasts a lot longer than the temporary numbness we get from indulging our soft addictions. This year, really take a vacation. Discover what life feels like when you satisfy those hungers and break destructive habits. Now, that’s something to write home about!
Judith Wright is an inspired personal growth educator, trainer, workshop and seminar leader, and co-founder of the Wright Institute for Lifelong Learning. Her specialty is soft addictions, how to identify and overcome them to get the most out of life. www.judithwright.com.
Of particular interest to Travel with a Challenge readers will be a spiritual pilgrimage tour that Judith plans and leads annually to some special part of the world. Carefully researching each destination, she steeps herself in the spiritual practices of the people, revering the present and past of each site and guiding participants along a path to inner wisdom and personal strengthening.
The Soft Addiction Solution
by Judith Wright
New York: Tarcher/Penguin
US$16.95; ISBN 158542532X
For further information, visit:
According to Laura and Betsy Crites, authors of The Call to Hawaii: A Wellness Vacation Guidebook, now regretably out of print, there’s definitely a satisfying wellness holiday for everyone in the 21st century. Relaxation and Rejuvenation focuses on nurturing and relaxing the body; Inner Pilgrimage holidays may include meditation, spiritual retreats, art and dance therapy; Fitness and Sports vacations develop tools for appropriate fitness levels, leadership and a sense of achievement; Lifestyle Modification holidays focus on nutrition, exercise, and unhealthy habits; and Complementary Wellness therapies explore alternative approaches to wellness beyond the western medicine model.
Nature as a Healer suggests eco-tours into wilderness areas, farm vacations, and garden themes among others; and lastly Volunteer Vacations bring growth and healing through service at home and around the world in ways participants never dreamed possible.