Shopping for that new high-definition television this summer? Skip it, and take a vacation instead, says a University of Colorado at Boulder psychologist who studies happiness.
Assistant Professor Leaf Van Boven has conducted numerous surveys and experiments spanning several years and has found that life experiences, such as vacations, generally make people from various walks of life happier than material possessions.
One reason for this is that experiences are more open to positive reinterpretation, or mental editing, than material possessions. And vacations are a perfect example of this, according to Van Boven.
Sorry, the title of this was so good, I just couldn't resist.
I cannot see exactly why this is "science", nor why one might need surveys or a professor of psychology to validate the accuracy of the advice. Many times, it seems to me, psychological research only corroborates the obvious. This is one of those times.
I'll just chime in with a little advice of my own. This applies especially if you're young. Don't put off until "some other time" a vacation or other adventure if you can possibly do it when the opportunity presents itself. Especially if it's something simple but perhaps a bit strenuous or requires you to go a bit outside your comfort zone. Like, say, a camping trip without a lot of fancy gear, to some place that doesn't have a lot of tourist amenities.
You may find you remember fondly even the less idyllic parts, like spending days or nights in a tent, while the rain never stops coming down, and you can't even enjoy your electronic toys like the iPod 'cuz the battery needs a charge. Maybe that'll be the time the only thing you can think of for fun is taking off all your clothes and playing outside in the rain and the mud. Maybe that's what you'll remember the rest of your life.
Just don't keep putting off that sort of thing. Once you have kids (and you very probably will), there will be too many options you just don't want to take the chance on. Or that are plainly out of the question.
And don't think you'll have the chance again later, once the kids are grown. Even if your health and strength remain good (as is likely, though hardly a sure thing), what you will find is that you just don't want to take the kind of chances you did when younger, or to give up some luxuries or comforts you "just can't do without" now. To say nothing of the chances that your companion will still feel a similar spirit of adventure in the future.
Oh, yeah, one other consideration. Barring major catastrophe, the world won't have fewer people on it in a few decades, either nearby or in pleasant, little-known remote places. The "good places" keep getting discovered and ruined by popularity. Enjoy them now, before the crowds and the developers find them. And with climate change a pretty sure thing, many lakes, snowfields, woodlands, meadows will be only memories much sooner than anyone expects.
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