Holiday happiness wears off

By • Published: March 15th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The pursuit of happiness is one of the “unalienable rights” of mankind, according to the United States Declaration of Independence. Some people look for happiness by vacationing at different locales around the globe. For those who are overworked, a holiday trip can feel like a good dose of medicine. And for those seeking inspiration, travels to places unfamiliar can reward with new insights on life.

Many people who go off on vacation come back excited and happy. But the feelings of happiness from their trips might not last long. In a new study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, people who went away for vacation were only slightly happier than others who did not take trips — and that happiness was mostly shortlived.

The amount of time people spent on vacation did not affect happiness levels, and neither did the number of trips taken, in the study of almost 4,000 Dutch citizens. Furthermore, happier people did not take more holiday trips, the study found.

Holiday-induced happiness can come from a combination of things, including the anticipation of the trip, experiencing the vacation activities, and the afterglow — reminiscing positively about it all once you get back to the “real world.” And since vacations are often shared with family and friends, the bonding experience can contribute to feelings of happiness.

Good thing we have photos to remind us of our happy hours and days of vacation, whether we spent it on a spring break or summer getaway, or a winter retreat.

Never mind that the trip won’t make you happy year-round. Go ahead, keep those photos of your last vacation or that poster of the place you want to visit next at your desk — there are new memories to be made and more happiness to pursue.