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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ah! This made me feel a bit better

I am better than most at grizzling and feeling sorry for myself, and among the things I moan about most are holidays - and how few I get.

Maybe it's because I'm an old man in a hurry, but forgetting the time I was marooned in Brooklyn during the Great Volcanic Ash Farce I have not had more than 10 days off at a stretch in the last 7 years.

So I was cheered up by something Rory Sutherland just drew my attention to.

A behavioural economist** at Duke University has been studying the benefits of vacations.

It seems that how long we take off probably counts for less than we think, and in the aggregate, taking more short trips leaves us happier than taking a few long ones. We’re often happier planning a trip than actually taking it. And interrupting a vacation — far from being a nuisance — can make us enjoy it more. How a trip ends matters more than how it begins, who you’re with matters as much as where you go, and if you want to remember a vacation vividly, do something during it that you’ve never done before. And though it may feel unnecessary, it’s important to force yourself to actually take the time off in the first place — people, it turns out, are as prone to procrastinate when it comes to pleasurable things like vacations as unpleasant ones like paperwork and visits to the dentist.

I certainly did something I'd never done before on a vacation during my Brooklyn stay. I had a couple of costly visits to a Mauritian lady dentist. Pain kills procrastination, and it was indeed memorable - but it didn't make it more fun.

The best thing on that trip was the birth of my latest grandchild, Rowan - whom my son Phil insists on calling Baby Bingo, to his wife's fury. I shall see him again this week, when I shall also do something I've never done before: go to 6 Flags with my youngest daughter, Chantal. I LOVE rides.

** A silly new "profession" obviously dreamt up in order to sound important and mysterious - and make more money.

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