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We recently got back from a week in Cuba.   I can still close my eyes and transport myself there:  I am right back on the beach, feeling the warm ocean breeze on my face as I sip my coconut water and immerse myself into the sounds of the waves, kids laughing and the palm trees swaying above me. Mmmm…. Bliss. 

We decided to take our kids to Cuba for lots of reasons: to escape the long cold winter, to see a different culture and part of the world, and to have fun spending time with just the four of us. Our priorities were to enjoy the hot sun, great beach, and good food (yes, we even had good food, even in Cuba!).  And we got them all – all wrapped up in a week of memories that we will have forever.

It’s funny to me how much perspective factors into enjoying a vacation.  I mean, you’re away from daily life!  And even if you like your life, as I do, it’s a very welcome change to remove myself from the daily routine and responsibilities.  (Absolutely rejuvenating, actually… ) As for different perception, when we got back, another person who was at the same resort that same week with their family wrote a blistering review, full of complaints about their vacation.  Were they at the same place?, I wondered.  

How did they miss out on the beautiful beach: the powder-like white sand, warm water, refreshing breeze?  Did they not take the time to snorkel around the pier, immersed in schools of fish and feeling the peaceful feeling of being a part of the underwater world?  Did they not enjoy the hot sun on their face (or maybe hadn’t traveled from a place that had had an incredibly long and cold winter?!)  Did they bypass the chance to walk on the beach in the early morning sun – or to stroll there in the last hours of daylight?  Did they not hear the great Cuban musicians that played in the outdoor lobby every evening?  Or maybe they didn’t like having fresh coconuts brought to them on the beach – to eat or to drink from with a straw?  Maybe they didn’t try the delicious cappuccinos – or appreciate good wine.  Or good food with lots of fresh, cooked-in-front-of-you variety.

Or maybe they focused so much on the negatives that they were blinded to the great vacation that was waiting for them  on the other side of their complaints.

Our vacation was not perfect… but it was.  Our resort was a little tired looking – but it was clean with pleasant staff.  The main pools were small – but never busy and there was always lots of room to play .  Our bed was uncomfortable – but I woke every morning to work out the kinks with some mobility work on our balcony overlooking the beautiful beach.  There wasn’t much to do in the evenings – but we were happy to get good sleeps and enjoy the most of our daylight hours.

I’m reading a book right now called Positivity.  It reveals how essential it is to our overall happiness to have a “positivity ratio” of at least 3-to-1.  Is that so hard?!  To find 3 positives for every negative?  To focus your attention on what’s working vs what’s not? What if this one simple adjustment in thinking could allow you to be happier, more at peace, and more resourceful in your life?

To quote:

“Positive emotions – like all emotions – arise from how you interpret ideas and events as they unfold.  They depend on whether you allow yourself to take a moment to find the good – and on whether, once you’ve found it, you pump that goodness up and let it grow. “

As for our week – it was never hard to focus on the positive.  The highlights outweighed any negatives by at least 20-to-1.  It certainly didn’t take any effort to make the most of our time.  For all of us – it was one of the best family weeks we’ve ever had, and a place I will return to again and again in my memory any time I need a mental pick-me-up.

Playing at Playa Pilar

Playing at Playa Pilar

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Snorkelling the reefs on our catamaran excursion

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