This week I’m away—on vacation!  My best friend and I are taking our collective four children to get really dirty in several California State Parks.  I’ll be unplugged to the max (to borrow a phrase from my 8th grade self).

While I’m gone, my Walking the Talk challenge is going to be to put all the things I’ve been working on over the last several weeks together, every day, seven days in a row. 

In addition to unplugging, I’ll be taking time each day to exercise, meditate, and drink coffee in bed (well, my sleeping bag), and, perhaps most of all, enjoy the summer.

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I’m also going to do something else for my well-being: get a lot of sleep.  TONS of it.  (Okay, that might be a bit delusional, given the four-kids-and-sleeping-bag situation, but I’m going to be horizontal a lot.)  Because research shows, of course, that sleep has an enormous influence on our health and well-being.

All of these things seem totally essential to do each day—totally non-negotiable, whether I’m on vacation or not. 

But honestly, somehow one or more of them keeps getting jockeyed out of my day.  Today, I did a little yoga, not the kind that might count as exercise, but I was really present, so that might count for meditation.  But I ran out of time before getting some mild exercise (the dog didn’t even get walked), and I’m writing this several hours past my bedtime.  How can the happiness and parenting expert not be modeling healthy sleep habits for her kids? you ask.  Not exercising?  Meditating for only 10 minutes a day?

It’s true: It is a lot easier to know what to do to be happy, and to teach those skills to others, than to be a perfect happiness habit practitioner.  Thank goodness I’ve renounced perfectionism!

But I’m trying to forgive myself for these shortcomings, and I have a feeling that many of you will understand where I’m coming from: Like most of you, I’m a parent, for crying out loud.  A single parent, to be more precise, one with several jobs and two sweet but active kids who aren’t in school right now.  So even the non-negotiable happiness habits sometimes really aren’t, uh, habits.  Some things, like regular exercise, are more aspiration than routine.

That is what vacation is for!  I don’t need to swim with dolphins to be happy this week; I just need a little nature, and the time—and support—to practice all those big things that make me a happy person.  I can’t wait!

I’m sorry that I can’t respond to your comments this week, but please continue the discussion in my absence. 

© 2010 Christine Carter, Ph.D.

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