A friend started a long-planned vacation last week. I interrupted her last-minute preparations with a phone call to wish her a happy and safe journey.
“You must be really looking forward to this.”
“Umm, well…. I am…. Now.”
“You know, I’d booked the essentials almost a year ago, but I haven’t thought about it much since. With everything that’s been going on at work, I just haven’t had the time.”
Alas for my friend, in neglecting to nurture anticipation for her vacation, she has cheated herself out of some key holiday-related happiness. Psychologists have been trying to nail down the effects of vacations on emotional wellbeing for years. The verdict to date is that taking vacations boosts a person’s overall level of happiness only slightly and only over the very short term. However, a person can engineer an early jump in their vacation gladness—they can extend the holiday-happiness window—if they consciously feed their own anticipation for the getaway….