Vacations Make Us Happy


Spain is the kind of country I love to visit, where the medieval European feel is a world away from my own life. Cobblestone streets and trailing geraniums enhance the picture while colorful food markets, street performers and alfresco cafes add to the enchantment. The culture is different from what I know and the sights, smells and tastes are like a wakeup call to the senses.

Who doesn’t love a vacation?

One reader wrote that she’s the youngest of three girls and their time together this summer gave her “just the right amount of nurturing to go back and face all my grown up responsibilities.” Here are a couple of ideas to bring your happiness back home with you and keep it going strong:

Be aware of what brings you joy. Set aside time to experience and then acknowledge your gratitude. Research participants who wrote letters to those who had helped them reported that, after implementing the habit, they had a lasting increase in good feelings over weeks and even months. What’s surprising is that sending the letter was not necessary. Even those who wrote letters, but never delivered them, still felt better afterwards.

Practice random acts of kindness. Focusing on the positives can help you remember reasons to be glad. When we perform good deeds and assist others it also benefits us. A recent study found that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more they felt their lives had purpose. Purely pleasure-seeking behaviors, on the other hand, did not make them happier.

Like many psychological and social indicators, happiness is easier to describe than to define with statistical precision. But if it is multi-dimensional and subjective, we all have to find out what works for us. Research shows that several factors can improve the quality of life-a healthy diet, positive attitude, support system, regular exercise, good night’s sleep, as well as vacation. So there’s no better time than now to add travel to your ‘to do ‘ list and start saving your pennies.


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