Live Like Every Day is Vacation

Years ago, I learned a valuable mantra while on vacation in Costa Rica.

As the second to last day of the vacation came to a close, I thought about how great it would be to have the good times continue for another week, another month, another year. I was lamenting flying back to LA the following day and returning to life as usual. I think it’s only natural to feel this type of feeling. I’m sure everyone does. But in this case, I was in a foreign country and over the less than week my wife and I spent there, I felt more relaxed than I had in years. I felt a certain vitality return and felt a certain level of despair about returning to the grind and losing it pretty quickly, as tends to happen. I knew I had stumbled upon something special. But then it occurred to me the night before flying out- what if the vacation never has to end? What if everyday you could live like you’re on vacation?

Now I’ll admit before I get into detail here that I don’t always do the best job of keeping this mantra in mind. In fact I’d say I fail at it most of the time. But sometimes when I’ve worked 14 hours, feel bone tired and just ready to collapse, I’ve felt a brief twinge of the feeling I’m about to describe and it makes it all worth it. Some nights(especially lately), when my 1 year old wakes up at 4 am and is up for an hour, I quietly think this to myself in the wee hours as I rock her back to sleep. And then there are the hour long commutes to and from work that I endure on an almost daily basis- sometimes I think of it then instead of succumbing to road rage, although I’ll admit, it’s quite difficult.

So what does living every day like you’re on vacation mean? It means being casual, conversational, and relaxed. It means not stressing about the things outside of your control. It means constantly trying to find an equilibrium where the day to day responsibilities and grind of life are balanced with a feeling that these things are part of a grander story of your life. They are punctuation, sentences, and paragraphs in the chapters of the book of your life. It means that relaxing, breathing deeply, and feeling at one with the eternal spirit of the universe are important driving forces that help ground you and keep everything in context.

During my time in Costa Rica, every single thing I viewed was viewed through the lens of a foreigner. One of the touristy things you learn pretty quickly in Costa Rica is that they have a saying, “Pura Vida”. Pure life, or simple life. Basically it embraces a certain level of happiness from the simplest of things. It’s pretty straightforward, but pretty profound. And I’d say as Americans, this saying is a really different perspective from what we experience on a daily basis. We always strive for greater. For more complex. For cheaper, more efficient, and quicker. And we bang out heads against the wall on an almost daily basis grinding it out, looking for this fleeting combination. We’re never content with simple. Simple has to be a choice.

I try to bring this feeling of being a tourist into the normal perspective that is my daily life. I try to look at the environments that I see a daily basis in this light. What new things are there to see? How can something maintain it’s essential essence, but also be new and exciting? What makes the new exciting? How can that feeling be breathed into the old? How does this play into the story?

To me, the perfect vacation is a mix of adventure and relaxation. If you were looking to literally just lay on a couch all day, there’s not much reason to leave home. Most of us go to foreign countries because we’re seeking some adventure. I try to bring this feeling into the daily. There is a time to adventure and there is a time to relax. You need both to feel happy.

So how is this feeling balanced with deadlines, stress and striving to achieve more? Simply put, it means not stressing about the things outside of your control and ensuring that you have a proper work/life balance where everything you do is part of a bigger picture of your life. This life is comprehensive. Make sure you’re living everyday like it is. Live every day like you’re on vacation.