Have you ever enjoyed a vacation so much you didn't want it to end? In fact, with each passing day you felt a sense of heaviness come over you? A sort of "impending doom" feeling, knowing that that happiness was soon to be taken?
Post-Travel Depression (PTD), also referred to as Post-Travel Blues, has gone from a tongue and cheek joke, to a real issue among Americans. There are dozens of blogs written to ease the pain of re-adjusting to normalcy after trips with advice like, "stay active when you get back" and "talk to friends".
Really? I mean, isn't the bigger question what is it about our lives that make it so difficult for us to simply be happy living them? I personally am in a relationship with a wonderful person, I have a family who loves me and I am an attorney in Manhattan. Not some po-dunk town where hope goes to die. Yet, I cannot for the life of me I cannot seem to just be satisfied in my current situation.
I came across a quote today that resonated with me.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking."
Steve Jobs said that. The man responsible for the computer on which I am typing this very grievance. I think that sometimes we become despondent with our living situation, whether that is work, relationships, family, financial status, etc. because we see them as permanent. And we enjoy vacations so much, because they are the type of life we wish we were living. Alas, this is only temporary.
Think of something you really hated in school. For me it was math class. Literally ANY math class. But the thing that made math class bearable is that I knew when the clock hit a certain hour it would be over and I'd be outside to play in P.E. Now, imagine if that math class never ended.
Our every day lives are that math class and vacation is our P.E. Vacation is our brief moment of enjoyment in life and math class, the constant drudge and grind of routine.
Which begs the question - when did math class become the majority of our lives and who decided it should be that way? Just remember, that math class was just one of six or more classes you were taking at one time. Surely there were other things you enjoyed that far outweighed the miseries of that one class, whether it be P.E., art, music, drama, history, English, pottery, etc. But over time we convince ourselves that this is "just the way things are" and that "we can't always get what we want."
Whoever said those two things for the first time in history should be shot. I mean it. Whoever planted the fist seed of negativity and self-fulfilling prophesies in this society has been responsible for the downfall of hundreds if not thousands of inventions, ideas, cures, and products that may never exist now because of it.
What if Steve Jobs had pulled out his little Nokia cell phone and wished he could use the internet on it but simply said, "Oh that's impossible" and kept plugging right along with his nine to five job? What is Louis Pasteur had sat back and said, "Oh well, people die. That's life." and never discovered Penicillin?
Post-Vacation Depression or Post-Vacation Blues will ceases to exist when we stop seeing our vacations as these glimmers of joy and start seeing them as a way to live life. Yes, we need to work. Yes, we need to make money. Yes, we need to support our family. Yes, we need to pay the bills. But who says a perpetual math class in misery is the only way to do that? Why not make P.E. the career instead? Or art?
Please, do not take me literally here, I am not suggesting we all run out and become gym teachers or chop off our ear to channel our inner Van Gogh. What I am suggesting is that we start to live the life we want. You were not randomly selected to live the life you are living. You have made certain choices that have gotten you to where you are. Both good and bad. Likewise you can make certain choices to change your life.
The goal is simple. Be happy. If you are not satisfied with your work, change it. If you are unhappy with your relationship, fix it. If you have unresolved feelings for someone, address them. But don't waste a single moment of this life wishing you were somewhere else.
So next time you get back from that amazing vacation, sit back. Soak up everything you loved about it. And design a path for your life that will allow you to feel that way every single day.
Make goals. Achieve them. Use a planner. I personally live out of my Self Journal by BestSelfCo. Create to do lists and check them off daily. Remember, big changes may take a long time, but they will have even bigger impacts if you take the time to commit to them and make them happen.
Your life can be a vacation.
You got this, dude.