Summer vacation won’t make you happy, it’s true. The science says so! Sharon Begley (ahem, defending her vacation-less summer) writes in Newsweek that data analysts have confirmed what she always suspected: vacations aren’t all that great.
Oh, come on. Vacations aren’t perfect. If you’re traveling with kids especially, things can get stressful and you might not even sleep that well. But still. Vacations aren’t uniform misery, now, are they?
Begley quotes studies that found the period before a vacation — when you’re all excited to get underway — is a time of greater happiness and positive feeling than while on the actual trip. Once home, vacationers recalled being happier than they actually reported being while on the trip.
But is that really so bad? Begley thinks we’re just trying to justify having spent all that money on flights, hotels, entrance fees and restaurant meals. But I’ve got a less cynical take.
What I’ve figured out as a mother is that, especially when kids are around, happiness comes in fits and starts. Rarely is euphoria for anything sustained over the long haul (or even an 15-minute chunk). In normal life, I can drop from tears of joy to fits of rage and not due to a mental illness. It’s the kids. That’s what kids can do — that doesn’t change on vacation.
I actually love that we humans have a selective memory. It’s what makes us sometimes go back for more kids. It’s what makes grandparents actually show up once in awhile for visits with the grandkids. It’s what makes people say, despite it all, life is good.
So what if vacations aren’t all that. They’re something. I’ll take it.