As I open up my laptop and Google loads in front of me, I find myself typing a familiar line into the search box, all-inclusive vacation. I click on the first link that pops up and begin to scroll through the beaches of Mexico, Bahamas and anywhere south of here. The photos boasting happy couples strolling down the beach pull me in. The promise of eight different restaurants and an on sight spa lets my imagination wander. I look to the price and available dates, calculating Christmas bonuses and vacation days into my daydream. Before I can get carried away, something snaps me back to reality, back to responding to emails, scrolling through Facebook messages and double-checking my calendar. I am drawn back to the chilly autumn days that carry with them the promise of a cold winter.
Don’t you just want to escape sometimes?
Wouldn’t it be better if we could just go and lie on a beach, hike through the mountains, hide away in a cottage, or pack up for a road trip? Wouldn’t our relationships, our families, and our sanity benefit from a break?
Certainly taking a vacation is beneficial for everyone once in awhile. We all need time to sit back and relax, taking a break from everyday life. But perhaps this longing to escape on a regular basis is a telltale sign of an unbalanced lifestyle, a sense of discontent in the busyness that we find ourselves in.
Escaping to the other side of the world may bring you temporary happiness. It may give you a glowing tan and pictures to share on social media. It could even leave you feeling more in love with your partner for a little while. But as the day-to-day routine settles back in, the memories of vacation become distant and the dissatisfaction creeps in.
It can be easy to get caught up in the mundane routine, the disappointment in a missed promotion, or the sad news of a friend. We can become so bogged down by the busyness that we begin to ignore the joy that can be found in the ordinary. We look for the highs of happiness in a new car, a relationship, a promotion or a vacation that promises to satisfy, instead of seeking out the simple things with a sense of gratitude and contentment.
Perhaps rather than chasing happiness on a beach, it first needs to be sought out in our everyday lives. If we look for it, we may just be surprised where it can be found. Happiness may lie in a willingness to forgive. It might be found around a kitchen table, a friend sitting near and a coffee cup in hand. It could be experienced in a lingering kiss, a quiet night in, or a laughing child.
So, next time I find myself tempted by white sand beaches and five star ratings, I hope to look beyond the pictures on my screen. I will choose to see the warm home I live in, the leaves changing colour just outside my window, and the pumpkins that line my fireplace. I will choose to curl up close to my husband, invite over a friend, or even just take a nap. I will remind myself that true, lasting happiness can be found right in front of me, right at home.