Last summer vacation I travelled around Norway with my family, moving from holiday address to holiday address, always cleaning the house before leaving. Every time we asked the owner to check if the house was clean enough, the answer was always something like: ‘Oh no, that’s not necessary, we’re sure you’ll leave it as clean as you found it’. Not only was it heart warming to experience so much trust, it also made us determined to leave the next house as clean and tidy as the last. Question 1: what would the impact be if managers checked up on their subordinates less and used the time gained to compliment them more instead?
Norway’s countryside is truly breathtaking and when we first arrived, I just didn’t know where to look; towering mountains with steep inclines, awesome waterfalls, sky-blue glaciers, lakes, rapids, rugged highlands, and much much more. It was all simply incredible to see and to realise just how insignificant we humans really are. But despite all these overwhelming sights, as time went on I caught myself thinking: ‘Oh that’s nice, another waterfall’. I didn’t feel the immediate need to take a good look or to park the car on the side of the road to take a photograph. And at one point we even decided to take the shortest route to the next house on our list rather than the scenic one. We had started becoming indifferent. Question 2: which wonderful moments in your daily life do you undervalue by taking them for granted?
During the holiday, we spent a lot of quality time together as a family. We had the time to talk to each other, to laugh, to quarrel, to have fun, to pull each other’s legs, to tell stories, or just simply be together without feeling the need to say anything. I also enjoyed not watching TV for a couple of weeks, going on hikes together (and of course as father I would carry the heavy backpack containing drinks, food, sweets and warm clothing) or playing games like jokers, Machiavelli (with or without any previous preparation) and Elfenland. Question 3: how much quality time do you share with your family during a ‘normal’ working week? Or: how much time do you spend working when you’re actually with your family?
Of course our holiday in Norway wasn’t just a series of one positive experience after another. For example, the fifth house we stayed in (for 3 days) was an abandoned ski hut that smelled awful and a lot of appliances didn’t work properly. And despite the fact that we were quite fortunate with the weather, there were several days that were spoiled by rain. We also went on a 2-hour train journey that we had been told beforehand was definitely a ‘must do’ but it was a total waste of time. And we had the honour of paying 130 euros for it. And talking of prices, if you go shopping, or want to fill your tank with diesel, or visit a church, be sure to take a small fortune with you. Norway isn’t the cheapest country in the world. Luckily we were always able to turn our negative thoughts around and make the best of the experience. Question 4: how do you react (physically and emotionally) to setbacks? Are you satisfied with how you respond or would you rather it was different?
For me, being on holiday means making time for my family but also time for myself. I started every morning with a 10-minute HeartMath exercise (read the article I wrote if you want to know more about this); I listen to relaxing music, and do some relaxation exercises that you can find on YouTube like this one by Yogatic.
I finish the session with some stomach exercises and other physical exercises. And combining this with little or no alcohol, and eating more consciously (except for sweets, my only addiction) makes me feel healthy and strong. Of course I promise myself I’ll carry on with my routine once the holiday’s over. Whether I succeed in keeping my promise is uncertain because I don’t always have the discipline necessary. Question 5: how consciously do you treat your health and how well do you succeed in keeping the agreements you make with yourself and/or your resolutions?
The challenge this time concerns the five points of reflection I have mentioned. Decide which question you feel most attracted to. Take 10 minutes to think about it in more depth and to consider what it would mean to you if you focussed more time and energy on it. Then formulate a resolution or action that’s in line with this, and define for yourself how you will know whether you’ve achieved the results you have in mind. And then… get started and be persistent!
Long live the holidays!