For many of us, the quest to improve our lives is never-ending. We all want to be happy, though that’s often easier said than done. For instance, a recent survey tells us that just over three percent of Americans are able to say that they’re happy in their daily lives. That shows how infrequently we attend to our own needs. But there are ways to make those needs a priority, and gratitude can help. Story by Matt Grady
We tend to associate taking a vacation – in particular a “wellness vacation” with caring for ourselves. By getting away from the stress of everyday life, we can focus on relaxation, healing and, yes, happiness.
Studies certainly have shown that planning a vacation can do wonders for one’s state of mind. Research has revealed that the even the anticipation of going on a vacation can actually boost happiness levels for up to eight weeks prior to taking a trip. Five daily practices for a happy life.
If you’ve already been practicing gratitude exercises, you might have already found some techniques that improve your well-being on a regular basis. But one of the drawbacks about traveling is that it can disrupt your routine and make you feel a bit out of sorts.
Sure, there are lots of exciting experiences to share — but you might also miss the predictability of your mornings and the methods you’ve used to center yourself. Just because you’re going on vacation (a wellness vacation or even taking a work trip) doesn’t mean you have to put those healthy habits on hold. If you make an effort to consistently reflect and express your gratitude while traveling, you’ll be able to truly savor the positive effects that your vacation can provide. Here are a few ways to practice gratitude even when you’re traveling.
Pack a Journal
Do you often journal as part of your gratitude practice? There’s no reason you have to stop just because you’re on vacation. Going on a trip actually provides you with even more opportunities to reflect on your daily experiences and provides an excuse for you to put pen to paper. Be sure to pack a travel-sized journal and writing utensils in your bag before you leave. Whether you like to journal first thing in the morning or right before going to sleep at night, keeping track of the specific highlights of your day can allow you to really give thanks for these events and for the people with whom you’ve shared them.
Set an Alarm
Partaking in mindful reflection can be an essential part of gratitude practice for many people. It can provide a way to center yourself in the present and even analyze your own thoughts and behaviors for the purposes of self-improvement. But when you’re traveling, your regular habits may go out the window. It’s often a good idea to set an alarm on your phone or other electronic device to remind you of when it’s time to shut out the world and go inward. Spending five or 10 minutes reflecting on the events of the day or on your own feelings can be illuminating and revitalizing. If you have your alarm go off before breakfast or in the early evening, you’ll be able to spare a few minutes without having to miss out on any activities during your trip.
Take a Walk
Regardless of how you’ll be traveling to your destination, you’ll want to give yourself a break and move your body. Being cramped in a crowded car or airplane can be physically and emotionally stressful. While there may be no escaping those conditions, you can try to make up for it by treating your body well and giving thanks to all it can do for you. Whether you take a lap around the airplane terminal, do some stretches at a rest stop, or make it a point to take a morning stroll around your hotel grounds, this can be an excellent way to express gratitude to your own being and take in the unique beauty of your surroundings. Even if the environment isn’t much to look at, it’s likely you’ll find something simple to be thankful for, such as the sunshine or the fact that you are alive and healthy.
Reflect Before Eating
When you take a trip, meals may suddenly feel a bit more special than they normally do. Having the opportunity to eat out at a fancy restaurant or cook your own meals over a campfire breaks up the monotony of leftovers you might consume when you’re at home. Mindfully consuming food provides the ideal opportunity to take a pause and think about all the living beings that came together to make the meal a reality. From the farmer to the chef, there were lots of people, animals, and plants to thank for your dinner. A quiet moment of mindfulness before consuming can be a great way to practice gratitude on the road.
Taking a trip can be exciting and even stressful at times. In order to get the most out of an upcoming trip and keep yourself centered, consider the different ways you can continue to practice gratitude outside your own home. You’ll probably find you’re able to savor these special memories even more and are better equipped to take everything in stride.
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Matt O’Grady is a business, fulfillment and success coach, author, speaker and podcast host. He guides people from all walks of life to new levels of connection, serenity, happiness, and success while also managing the stresses and challenges of modern, daily life. His web site is Mattogradycoaching.com