A few of months ago, I attended a friend’s wedding in Wisconsin. This trip gave me the getaway I desperately needed from my job on a medical-surgical unit and its white hospital walls in downtown Minneapolis. However, it was only reluctantly that I agreed to attend this wedding. As a matter of fact, I hate the idea of going out of my house for things other than work or getting necessary supplies for survival. This isn’t because I don’t love my friends or the idea of taking time off work, it’s just super hard to take my hands off everything, and I get overwhelmed easily when I find myself in large crowds. Despite this, I left everything behind and drove three hours with my family to Wisconsin. And the trip proved to be the best thing I’ve done for myself in the last 12 months! Here are five lessons I learned from my mini-vacation.

1. Just because we’re having a bad day doesn’t mean someone else should

Prior to leaving Minnesota, I’d resolved to keep to myself the whole time, a.k.a., “I’ll just be in my own room and show up when it’s time to greet the bride and groom.” But no, two days before the wedding, Mum asked if there was ‘extra space’ in the car because someone else would be joining us.

My introverted self wanted to scream. Not only did we have this additional passenger in the car, she blasted her own music playlist throughout the entire car ride there and back. In short, I was a prickly porcupine for the first 12 hours after we settled into our hotel.

Once I looked around and discovered that I was the only one affected and that no one even spared me a glance, I made the conscious decision to enjoy my time there because the others didn’t deserve to have their day ruined just because I was feeling ‘salty.’

2. Feeling or staying defeated is a choice

This is especially true for us humans. Life goes sour, and we sometimes want to wallow in our self-pity and complain to others about how bad our life is. I get it. However, like everything else, we have a choice to allow certain emotions to dominate our mood and dictate our actions. For me, I chose to snap out of my moodiness to be present for my friend’s wedding.

I’m not saying we should never feel frustrated. What I am saying is that it is our choice to either remain in a negative state or feel the emotions and then move to a different and more serene state of mind.

3. We experience creative breakthroughs when we physically move around

This isn’t a novel discovery, but I hadn’t been taking advantage of this tip ever since I became a working adult.

Every step I took in the hotel, including trips to the breakfast table and carpark, felt as if I’d been granted the keys to the palace of creative ideas! Midway through my morning walks, my mind was bustling with several ideas to improve communication between my family and colleagues when I eventually got back to work.

Fresh ideas on how to respond if my manager wants to know why I worked over time, the best response to give a chatty co-worker who refuses to acknowledge the passing of time, and how to effectively get along with difficult people in my life seemed to flow through my fingers.

4. We need to devote more time to mindfulness

Right now I don’t do this enough. Yet the act of physically moving my body to a different location made me rethink the concept of self-love. Practising mindfulness gave me the courage to confront habits that needed to change – but with compassion and grace.

The more I prioritised mindfulness, the more I wanted to lead a healthier life in several ways. I asked myself, what if practising mindfulness helps me curb that unhealthy eating habit I’ve developed from working night shifts? What if the art of mindfulness opens a new world of consciousness and understanding when relating to other people?

Imagine the possibilities when we’re able to treat others with kindness because we have learned to love ourselves.

5. Patience is essential

I was in a different territory where I lost control over everything around me. I hated noise and desired solitude but found myself mingling with a bunch of happy, loud Nigerian relatives. I was tempted to blow my fuse several times. However, I soon realised that frustration and the inability to control a situation or others does not solve problems.

And this is also true for many of us. Whether it is navigating a complex system that leaves us feeling like our voices don’t matter, communicating with an unruly teenager, or dealing with a difficult family member, patience is needed.

Note: I have to say that there is a difference between patiently ‘ignoring’ a harmful situation and speaking up passionately when the time calls for it. We can always moderate our responses to adverse events while getting our points across. But like the writer and activist, Lurvie Ajayi says, when it’s time to say the hard things, we have to ask ourselves: “Do you mean it? Can you defend it? Did you say it with love?”