I had the great joy of heading on a trip south recently. Vacations can be tricky business, can’t they? Sometimes these breaks are a highlight for the whole family, a chance to reconnect with a partner, or a major outlay from the entertainment budget each year.
The meanings we bring to vacation can hoist the expectations. We might tell ourselves (and those around us), “You’re going to have fun whether you like it or not!”
So what did I learn on my winter vacation?
I stayed in a classic Florida hotel in a charming location, adjacent to a marina, on the water. Seeing the fish jumping and the birds fishing, feeling the sea breeze in my hair again and the sun on my face, it was lovely. Except.
Except the walls of the hotel room were quite thin. Conversation and TV sounds came through from one side, snoring from the other. It was hard not to focus on those noises. My perception was the hotel was not up to modern standards: it was not acceptable the way it was.
Then I downloaded an app for my phone, a white noise generator. In two minutes, it was as if those other noises weren’t getting in anymore. I only heard the soothing sounds of a waterfall coming from the phone.
I woke up well-rested and realized that the phone app had, for all practical purposes, thickened and insulated the walls of the hotel room. It turned a flawed vacation spot into a near-perfect one.
The lesson of the stay in the old hotel is that sometimes, we need to be intentional about changing our perception so we can change our reality. We didn’t choose the world we were born into, but we do choose how to focus our attention, where to direct our response, and thereby, how we experience and shape our world.
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