The 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge – Day 5 – Go On A Staycation

This is an account of day 5 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge, for accounts of other days please click here.

In Theory

The task for day 5 of the 21-Day Daily Stoic Freedom Challenge is to go on a staycation. According to Wikipedia, a staycation is “a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodations”.

The intention is to follow the example of Marcus Aurelius, who didn’t seek foreign retreats to provide freedom, but rather looked inward and tried to reconnect with himself:

People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind.

Marcus Aurelius

The accompanying email from Daily Stoic explains further:

Your challenge today is to: Go on (or plan for this weekend) a “staycation.” Get into the mindset of you on vacation—excited to get out and explore, open to any and all of the day’s possibilities, trying to take it all in, keenly observant of what your surroundings might hold—but do it at home. See home in a totally new way.

Home can lull us into this kind of cruise control. Day after boring day, we drive the same roads, walk the same sidewalks, see the same faces, eat where we like to eat, work out where we have our membership, and slip into a Groundhog Day-like trance.

That special attitude we step into when we’re on vacation, where we grant ourselves a modicum of freedom. We “let loose”, we “let our hair down”, we do things we wouldn’t normally do… …We needn’t wait for some annual exotic vacation to get this kind of relief and connection. We can do it Right. Now.

In Practice

The Daily Stoic instructional email for today’s part of the challenge offers the following suggestions for going on a staycation:

  • Sleep in a different room in your house. Get up a couple hours earlier. Drive a different route home from work. Have a family dinner in the dining room that only gets used for holidays. Pitch Tents and camp in the backyard with your kids. Stay up really late watching a movie.
  • Go for a 1 hour walk. Bring a notebook and record as many observations as you can. It doesn’t matter if it happens to be a beautiful nature walk or 50 laps around your neighborhood, just step out your front door and go.
  • Visit your local community center, library, book store, shopping mall, farmers market, etc. and start a conversation with a stranger at each place.
  • Like you would for a trip to some foreign place, search the top things to do in your town. Have a jampacked day of activities you overlook or never even considered.

I decided to take a 1 hour walk as I do tend to walk a lot on normal vacations. I didn’t bring a notebook as I wanted to focus on taking in things that I may not normally notice due to being so familiar with them. I did take some pictures, however, and it’s given me a new appreciation of where I live:

Staycation “safari” 🙂

I also like the idea of sleeping in a different room, so I’m going to try that tonight too – it sounds like a strange thing to do, but the break from routine and seeing your own home from a slightly different perspective align with what is intended by today’s challenge.

Fellow challenge participant, Sandra, had similar thoughts in the group Slack channel –

Day 5 : finally an easy one for me! I have developed the habit of “imagining I’m a tourist” a long time ago. Ok, it seems easy, I live in Paris, in the centre. However, hardly anyone who lives here notices how beautiful everything is around us, and how lucky we are to live here. I was struck by the fact that people save for a long time to come and spend a week here, by the comments of people in the streets, in the food shops etc. So I thought, hey, I can enjoy that the same way!!! So, to make it a bit more interesting, I’m going to try and look at my flat under a different light, as if I arrived in an Airbnb flat! And enjoy it as such… Thanks so much @Ryan Holiday for imagining these challenges, and for everyone who contributes! It’s tough, thought provoking but I’m learning so much…

In Summary

There’s no reason why a “vacation attitude” can’t be adopted at home – why shouldn’t we feel that type of freedom all the time? It’s also important not to take your normal surroundings for granted or you’ll come to realise one day how much you’ve missed out on.