At work the other morning, someone asked me how I was doing. She was somewhat taken aback when I replied that I was doing “fantastic.” She looked at me like I had just spoken to her in Swahili. I then said that having just gotten back from a 2-week vacation that I was loving life, even though the benefit of the time off was quickly fading. Cue the “must be nice,” “wish I had your money,” I could never take 2 weeks,” etc., etc., etc. commentary. Then she said something about “coming back to this place” to which I replied that I would gladly come back to work in order to be able to do another vacation like I just did, that I thought it was a fair trade. More Swahili.
We all know and work with people who are, let’s say, “happiness challenged.” Not that they are depressed or anything – although it’s possible that some of them are – but mostly they just spend a lot of time with negative attitudes – toward work, their spouse, their kids, their cars, etc. And they’re not too shy to talk about it. But that attitude carries over to how they live their lives, to the point where, for many people, they don’t seem to have the ability to understand the concept of doing things that make them happy. Sometimes I meet up with friends for lunch or dinner, and way too often all they do is complain about things.
We all have stuff that makes us angry or drives us crazy. But I have come to the conclusion – and this was a long time coming – is that it is not all of these outside things that bother me and make me crazy. It is my reaction to those things that makes them intolerable. So I’ve been working really hard at managing my own attitude, and I’ve found that it really helps. Don’t like the way people are driving? Back off and think about something else. Don’t like your cube neighbor’s Polka ringtone on his cell phone? Laugh it off. Neighbor’s dog barking endlessly while they are away? I haven’t solved that one yet, so I just turn up the music. Blue jeans in the cruise ship dining room? Whatever! I can’t change any of it, so fix the things I can fix, and for those things I can’t fix, I accept them and move on. Works for me.
The great thing about taking a vacation is that it does tend to put things in perspective. There’s a lot more to life than work, and there is way more to life than finding things to complain about. So look for the positives! While coming home and going back to work can be difficult, I would gladly trade a few months’ work in order to take another nice vacation. It’s a worthwhile trade.
One of the best sayings I saw or heard on our trip to Alaska: “There is no such thing as inclement weather, only inappropriate clothing.” That pretty much says it!