A Mental Vacation

One outcome of getting away—taking a vacation—is to realize there is more than one way to do things.

A friend of mine just came back from volunteer service in Kenya. This was how he chose to use 2 weeks of his three weeks of allocated vacation. His task in Kenya was to help install a water pump and water-holding tank. As my friend described his experience and the lifestyle and culture of the village where he volunteered, he also reflected on our own lifestyle and culture.

This kind of experience can be transformative. The transformation begins when we the experience jars us out of our unconscious and makes us aware of our ourselves in our daily life. It’s what we choose to do with that awareness that maximizes the value of the experience.

In my friend’s situation, the lifestyle of the Kenyan village was so different, it was easy to be jarred out of his unconsciousness, and due to the stark contrast, develop a greater appreciation of how good life has been for him. In this case, I think there will be a change in how much my friend appreciates water and he’ll choose to use less of it as a result.

It does not have to be such an extreme experience to have this kind of learning. Visiting another country, another part of our own country, another city or meeting new people in town can be an opportunity to realize there is more than one way to live life & more than one way to do things. Some of these experiences, not all, will impact us and change our behaviors—even in small ways.

Can we get this kind of transformative experience without going away? Literally, yes. Figuratively, no. We need to get out of ourselves in order to look inside.

How do we do that? What if we chose to take a mental vacation—a vacation in which our body does not leave, but our mind travels? In this way we gain the benefit of perspective, but don’t have to go away. At work this could be as simple as getting to know the people another department at work, what they do and how they do it; talking with peers who do the same job as you–just differently. Or it might just be in the meeting in which someone brings up a new idea and you choose to mentally “visit” their way of seeing the world.

This small vacation might be the beginning of a transformation.

Like an exotic vacation, this mental vacation is voluntary. There is no harm in visiting, and you can always come back. This form of staycation is a time out from our way of living and doing. Relax and enjoy.  It is an opportunity to see another way of living and doing.