Happiness on the road

I’m on a road trip, and have a schedule that initially caused me some concern — where will I have time to take care of myself?  Tight flight schedules, early morning conference starts, group meals, and the extra time required to navigate an unfamiliar city often conspire to reduce or eliminate self-care time.

Still, I want to honor my values (Health — mental, physical, & emotional – is high on the list) on the road. During seven hours of transit time today, I found the following opportunities:

  1. Standing in line to check luggage: a minute to check my stress level (a bit high) and take a few deep breaths to drop my stress down a notch.
  2. Negotiating the TSA security checkpoint, I notice many people fumbling luggage and laptops and seemingly unable to negotiate shoe removal.  Over there is a businessman having a partial meltdown because the line is moving slowly.  Hmm — time to notice that I am in assessment about the intelligence of my fellow travelers. Oops!  I notice my frustration, then step back to consider other perspectives: they might be scared, tired, inexperienced travelers, or distracted by other concerns.  I let go of the assessment.  Ahhh.
  3. Queuing up in the Southwest line to board the plane.  Time to smile, make eye contact with my fellow travelers, engage in some light conversation.  Nice – the human contact energizes me.
  4. Taking off.  I play a little game with myself, which distracts me from thinking about how we could all CRASH AND DIE ANY SECOND!!!! …. as the plane starts down the runway, I lean back in my seat, close my eyes, and take deeeep, even breaths.  I tune in to the plane itself – the rumbling, the whine of the wheels, the vibrations – and I try to sense the precise moment when the plane hits takeoff speed and leaves the ground.
  5. I have a two-hour layover.  Good thing, because my second flight leaves from a different concourse  I have a 20 minute walk.  I skip the moving sidewalks and hoof it. There’s half my daily workout!
  6. Nothing to do at the gate.  I find a spot by the wall and sit lotus-style on the ground.  At first, I people watch.  After a bit, I shift attention to my breathing, and sit in meditation for a few minutes.
  7. Hungry.  It’s way past lunchtime.  I could chow down on airport food (mostly high-fat, high-sugar stuff).  I choose instead (in spite of the fabulous smells coming from the Au Bon Pain store!) to open the bag of healthy homemade granola I brought along.
  8. Still hungry.  I buy and consume dark chocolate.  YUM!

OK, so nobody’s perfect.  That last bit was to feed my soul, which needs dark chocolate to thrive, dontcha know?!  🙂
So, even when I’m in foreign surroundings, in transit, and with only small pockets of time, I seek to practice happiness.
How about you?  Where do you look for ways to practice happiness and self-care?
Till next time.

4 thoughts on “Happiness on the road”

  1. When I get stressed, especially on trips like you are on, I tend to people watch. I see the people who seem to be less fortunate; perhaps they are disabled in some way. Invariably, I find myself thinking of how fortunate I really am and how easy things are realtively speaking. It works. Oh, the three deep breaths always work. TOM

  2. I must be weird. I like flying. I enjoy exploring airports and have a system for navigating them. The only time it gets to me is when the time between of a trip is too short and then I am the Queen of Panic until I get to the gate. (The connections into CAK can be dicey). And yeah, chocolate helps.

  3. Since you asked…..when traveling for a conference I treasure the wait time at the airport and travel time on the plane. Since I know I’m headed into a situation where I’ll be interacting with people all day (before sessions, during meals, after sessions, etc.) I take advantage of the wait and travel time to introvert. I bring a favorite book with me and lose myself in another world. Being in flow while reading helps give me the energy I need to get the most out of the conference. (One of these days I’ll learn to take my laptop and write while traveling!)
    And I TOTALLY agree with you and Kay–chocolate always helps!

  4. Clearly, there are many ways to cope with travel stress. Feeling grateful for health, taking time to catch up on reading, and chocolate. Yes, I forgot about chocolate. Mmm! Thanks for sharing more happy ideas! J


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