The Psychology of Vacations
The physical benefits gained through vacation is clear and documented through several studies but there is another benefit, the Psychological one. As we move into a more holistic approach to medicine and healthcare, we know the impact our mindset can have on our health. Happy people get sick less, they are more productive and have a greater influence on their family and those around them.
Society has produced a material focus on happiness, believing the more we have the happier we feel. We become competitive and it’s a struggle to keep up with others. Studies show something far different in the pursuit of happiness, which is money spent on experiences rather than material possessions produces more happiness and that happiness is more enduring.
In 2014, at The American Psychological Association’s annual conference in Washington D.C, Miriam Tatzel, Ph.D., of Empire State College, presented an overview of consumer behavior and happiness. In her presentation, she shows the link between money and happiness and the outcome is that money spent on experiences rather than material goods do have a positive impact on our happiness.
An article in Psychological Science reported on the findings of a study done by Amit Kumar of Cornell University, Matthew A. Killingsworth of the University of California, Berkley and Thomas Gilovich of the University of California, San Francisco also concluded that experiences bring more happiness over material objects.
“Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having).”
Not only are we happier through experiences but the anticipation of an experience enhances one’s happiness, as quoted below from the article.
“Four studies demonstrate that people derive more happiness from the anticipation of experiential purchases and that waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good.”
What is even more interesting is the findings of another paper, titled A wrinkle in time: Asymmetric valuation of past and future events, published in Psychological Science, 2008 by EM Caruso, DT Gilbert and TD Wilson.
The conclusion of their findings was the anticipation of future events and experiences often and equal value of the actual event.
Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times bestseller, Better than Before, writes on her website there are 4 stages for enjoying a happy event:
— anticipation (looking forward to it)
— savoring (enjoying it in the moment – remember to turn off your cell phone!)
— expression (sharing your pleasure with others, to heighten your experience)
— reflection (looking back on happy times –so take pictures)
These studies and 100's more like them share the same message. It is through experiences we increase happiness and anticipating the event is tied into the experience and is as important.
The result of these studies is that vacations are not only good for your health but they make you happy.
Is there a method to booking a vacation and getting the most out of it?
Taking all the research into account, yes, the Art of Vacations, is the roadmap to not only have a great vacation but to increasing happiness and enhancing health.