Good day, team,
This week’s challenge is about the benefits of shaking up our normal patterns. I just spent two weeks immersed in French culture and cuisine, and the greatest gift of this vacation was the opportunity to do everyday things very differently.
Try speaking a foreign language for two weeks: That alone will help you see yourself and your world from a different perspective (three years of high school French was not much help). Take two hours for lunch each day dining on some of the finest cuisine in the world or walk everywhere you want to go in a large city. Find yourself in a toilette without any toilet or ordering a steak medium rare and having it served raw. Become totally lost and be forced to ask a complete stranger for help without speaking their language (in our case, this always lead to a positive experience as the French are always so willing to help and have a wonderful joie de vivre!).
Each of these experiences gave me the chance to be more awake, to be out of my comfort zone and struggle to make something work or to be understood. Although it’s irritating, it always forced me to pay attention and provided the opportunity to notice aspects of my surroundings I never would have seen if I were in my normal daily routine, like the way light falls through a hotel window in the afternoon after a luxurious nap or what a carpet of ferns looks like in the early morning on a search for mushrooms in a French forest.
Every time I travel, I experience a wonder and innocence that get lost in my regular life of work, chores and responsibilities. I know this doesn’t have to be the case, and I’ve tried many times to jolt myself out of the low hum of work life, but the more familiar my life, the more asleep I seem to be. Fortunately, I find myself in a business where my clients tend to awaken me with their comments, stories and observations. Being present to them is my most important job, and it never ceases to amaze me how much I am inspired by their sincerity and hard work.
This week, try changing how you do things just enough to wake yourself up. You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to be more aware of your surroundings. Knowing how easy it is to take our lives for granted, try spending some time doing the dance a little differently so you can remember how much you enjoy it.
Here’s a lovely quote from Gresley that speaks to my point:
“Our object in traveling should be not to gratify curiosity and seek mere temporary amusement, but to learn, and to venerate, to improve the understanding and the heart.”
And another from Mark Twain:
“I have traveled more than anyone else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak English with an accent.”
Think about what you can do to shake things up a bit and notice what otherwise gets lost in your day. Or, better yet, start planning your next vacation and do some research about where you’d like to go and what you’d like to see.
Standing in front of Notre Dame in Paris last week, I noticed that the entire front of the cathedral has now been completely cleaned and restored. When I visited two years ago, much of the front was covered in scaffolding. There in front of me, the late morning light shone on the beautiful faces and figures carved out of off-white, pink-hued stone. The entire structure is such a thing of beauty that it took my breath away. In that moment, I realized how fortunate I was to be there. Now my challenge is to bring that appreciation to the more mundane moments in my life.
Have a good week!
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