Carnegie Tips for a Stress-Free Vacation

June 17, 2011

Ahhh….the dog days of summer!  For many of us, this means clearing the calendar for a week, packing up the family, and heading out for a long anticipated vacation.  We envision idyllic afternoons in the lake, hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill, and great stories around the campfire.

Reality, however, may look a little different.  A frantic rush to complete projects before leaving work, making arrangements for the family dog, getting everybody packed and organized, long hours in the car, and different opinions on how to spend your time can lead to a less than pleasant experience.

I wonder – if he were here today – what advice might Mr. Carnegie give on creating a stress-free family vacation?  Based on the principles from his best-selling book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, here are my predictions:

1. Don’t Fuss About the Trifles.

Chances are, little things may come up that will agitate you.   That’s life!  Mr. Carnegie shared the following story: Admiral Byrd’s troops bore the dangers, the hardships, and the cold that was often eighty degrees below zero without complaining.  “But, said Admiral Byrd, “I know of bunkmates who quit speaking because each suspected the other of inching his gear into the other’s allotted space; and I knew of one who could not eat unless he could find a place in the mess hall out of sight of the Fletcherist who solemnly chewed his food twenty eight times before swallowing.”

Do your family members use up all the hot water in the shower?  Take all the clean towels? Leave toothpaste in the sink?  Get over it!  The trifles – small issues in life – can weigh us down.  Resolve to not “fuss” about the trifles.

2. Expect Ingratitude.

You’ve planned this vacation carefully.  You selected the facility that you feel offers the best amenities for your family.  You budgeted carefully throughout the year, and you work hard every day at your job to earn your time off.  So why do your kids complain hysterically when you stop off for lunch at Cracker Barrel rather than McDonald’s?  Don’t they realize how hard you’ve worked to pull this all together? Probably not.  Don’t be troubled if your family doesn’t fully appreciate your efforts.  Remember, many kids will not realize the FULL value of your efforts until they become parents themselves.

3. Live in Day Tight Compartments.   No matter if you’re on a 10-day excursion or a weekend getaway, make sure that you make the most of each day.  Don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, just relish the moment you’re in.  To take it to the next level – consider turning OFF your cell phone for the entire day and commit to be fully present in the moment.  Your family will love the gift of your undivided attention.

4. Create Happiness for Others.  It is virtually impossible to avoid smiling when the people you love are laughing, smiling, and enjoying one another.  That might mean giving in to the needs and desires of others at times, even when you have a very different view.  “Take one for the team,” and watch your family smile with delight.

No matter what happens on your vacation, good or bad, remember that you are creating memories of a lifetime.  Often, experiences that seem to be rotten at the time will become a cherished memory in the future, and a part of the family fabric that is passed down from generation to generation.  Abraham Lincoln once said “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Make up your mind to have an enjoyable vacation focused on the ones you love – you’ll be glad you did!

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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