Last year, due to the stars magically aligning, I had the opportunity to go on vacation and live at the beach for 5 weeks. I won’t lie- it was as excellent as any beach-lover would expect it to be. But it was also educational.

The list of things I learned from the experience is short but important, and it applies to everyday, non-vacation life as well. 

1. Slow down and notice the beauty of your surroundings.

This is easy to do on vacation or at the beach, but less so when we’re in our hometown, rushing through daily life.  But that’s not an excuse.  It only takes a moment to pause, giving your full attention to what’s around you; a tree, flower or bird.  

Sure, the beach is beautiful, but that same sort of natural beauty exists everywhere if we take the time to notice it.  If you have a backyard or a nearby park, go spend some time in it as if it were the beach.  Look at it with fresh eyes and a clear mind.  You may notice it has just as much to offer your senses as your favorite vacation spot.  

This idea was literally brought home to me when I arrived back in town after  a month away.  Everything seemed as fresh and new to me then as the beach had.  But the places hadn’t changed, only my awareness of them  had.  

In urban areas or places where there isn’t much nature to view, try noticing the beauty of the people around you.  They may not all be saints, but I bet you can find at least one who’s doing something beautiful; helping someone, laughing with a friend or playing with their kids.

The good stuff is everywhere.  Slow down and notice it.

2. Stress Literally Sucks The Joy Out Of Life

During our beach month I did less working out, ate lots of pizza, had ice cream almost everyday, started drinking soda again, and still lost weight!

I kept up with my running and yoga but didn’t get upset about it if I skipped a day.  I walked about 2 miles a day back and forth to the beach, and played beach games as we felt like it.

Despite the overall downgrade in my “diet and fitness regimen”, I was in possibly the best shape of my life!

I disallowed stress and was able to ignore work until it really needed to be done.  When I did have jobs to take care of, I did them the best I could, then returned to other things.  I tried to do as little work as possible during that beach month and only had a few issues to deal with. Certainly work demands much more of us in normal life than in my beach experience, but we should create and maintain strong boundaries that protect us from work that wants to spill over into our weekends, holidays, vacation, family times, and everything else.  No job has the right to own you or your time.  Work has a place, and it needs to be kept there.

All of this is to say that stress can suck fitness out of the body and joy out of the mind.  Don’t let it.  Slow down. Relax!

Recently, I’ve begun a new project which combines both of the things I learned on my month long stay at the beach.  I call it EarthLove Films.  Each video is a slow walk through natural surroundings, set to original music I recorded myself.  The idea is to promote relaxation and stress-free living by slowing down and recognizing the true beauty that exists all around us in nature’s various forms.  

Samples of Earthlove Films are coming soon.

I hope I’m lucky enough to someday spend another month at the beach.  But until then, the tools of happy living I learned there still apply to life, no matter where that life is happening.

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