What Vacation Taught Me About Work

I recently got to spend a week and half traveling with my wife in Italy. We were celebrating our 5th anniversary by doing something we’ve always dreamed of doing. It was incredible.

Our favorite part was our 3 nights in Riomaggiore (one of 5 small towns along the Ligurian coast collectively known as the Cinque Terre). Now, I promise I’m not just writing about this to make you jealous; I’m actually getting to the point. I couldn’t help but pick up on a different way of doing work in the Cinque Terre.

We rented a room from a man named Edi, and throughout our stay got to see him making his rounds about the small town, always with a smile on his face. On our first night he strolled by as we sat on the patio of a harbor-side restaurant (our favorite of the trip). He recognized us, smiled, and waved, then continued on his way. But he was back several minutes later with 2 complimentary glasses of prosecco.

There was another man in the Cinque Terre whose attitude at work also made an impression on me, though I never met him or got his name. It was our train conductor as we made our way from tiny Corniglia (3 towns away) back to homebase in Riomaggiore. I watched him at each stop as he would hop off the train to chat and laugh with the other locals, and even play with children, forming a makeshift toy train out of their toys and blowing a small whistle to mimic the sound of the real train.

When I contrast these 2 men with the work experience many of us know in the states, I realize how begrudgingly we tend to go about our work. Even I’m guilty of it, and I love my job(s)! I know we don’t all get to live in a picturesque seaside town, but we can at least try to do our work a little more cheerfully.

For me that starts with being fully present wherever I am. Between working in freelance audio and video, making music, and keeping up with chores at home, there’s always somewhere else for my mind to be instead of where I am. But I’m generally happier (less stressed) when I focus on one thing at a time.