Vacations and Happiness


Everyone is waiting for and dreaming about their next vacation, whether it’s just a simple weekend or a long winter break, holidays are an integral part of working life.

The question is: does the dream ever come true? Do people enjoy actual time spent on their favorite picnic spot?

I always wondered when I saw tourists with the usual paraphernalia going with great excitement from one point to another. The same crowd, the same gossips, the same gobbling food before rushing to the next destination – how is this different from their daily routine?

Now there is research available to support my doubt.

Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness, and how long it lasts. They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period.

The study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

Not only that, there was no post-vacation happiness either, with exhaustion and subtle disappointment shadowing the eagerly awaited trips.

Here Osho speaks about the attitude of looking for fun somewhere other than where you are right now:

“A pilot said to the passengers, ‘All our engines are okay, the plane is functioning perfectly well. There is only one bad piece of news, otherwise everything is good. The bad news is that we have lost contact with the Earth so we don’t know where we are and we don’t know where we are going. The good news is that we are going at full speed!’

 “Everybody is going at full speed; that is the good news. Who cares? Who has time to think about where he is going? When you see the whole world rushing, you start rushing.

“We force children to run. That’s what our whole educational system is meant for, from the primary school to the university. Twenty-five years we waste on every person, almost one third of the life, to teach him to rush. Then twenty-four hours in his day it is rush hour. He is never anywhere for a single moment. He cannot see the beauty of the trees because he cannot sit underneath the trees – Buddha must have known the beauty of the trees. He cannot see the beauty of the stars, he cannot see the beauty of people. In fact, when he is in Kabul he is rushing to Kathmandu, when he is in Kathmandu he is rushing to Pune, when he is in Pune he is rushing to Goa! He is never where he is; his mind is always ahead of him, planning how to reach there. And if you ask him, ‘For what?’ he will say, ‘We will enjoy.’ And he is not enjoying this moment, how can he enjoy any other moment? He has lost all capacity to enjoy herenow; his only enjoyment is planning, always planning, planning to enjoy.

“There are people who are working their whole lives and just waiting for their retirement; then they will relax and enjoy. And they know perfectly well: six days they work in the office and wait for the seventh day, the holiday, and hope, ‘Soon Sunday will come and we can relax and enjoy.’ And they cannot relax and they cannot enjoy – in fact, the holiday seems to be so long and so boring; they have to fill it with something.

“They go for a picnic. The same things that they would have eaten at home, relaxedly, now they rush toward a picnic spot miles away to eat. And they are sitting in the grass, and ants are very clever; they know perfectly well where the picnic spots are. Their astrologers tell them, ‘Go ahead, that is the place!’ And the mosquitoes, they are always there waiting for you. They say, ‘Hello, so you have come!’ And then quickly people finish because they have to reach home; and they rush and cars are going there bumper to bumper. And many more accidents happen on Sunday than on any other day, many more deaths on the road than on any other day. Strange – some holiday!

“The whole city is going toward the same picnic spot, the same beach. I have seen pictures of beaches and I cannot believe what is happening. There is not even space to walk! They are packed – no marketplace is so packed – and all kinds of fools are there. Six hours it takes them, six hours to reach the beach, then for one hour they lie down amidst this whole mass of fools under the sun, and then back home…. And the whole way they are quarreling with the wife and the wife is quarreling with…. This you can do more at ease at home, relaxed in an armchair – nag each other, do whatsoever you want! What is the point of going to the beach? Nobody is seeing the sea, nobody is seeing the sun. Nobody has time.

“These same people think that when they are retired they will rest – they cannot. Sixty years of habits, how can you drop them? Impossible: the habits have become so deep-rooted that people suffer more when they are retired than they have ever suffered, because nobody knows how to rest, how to relax. This is sheer madness!

“These people go on saying beautiful things. They say, ‘Time is money.’ They have beautiful proverbs to drive you crazy: ‘Time is money, so save time.’ And everybody is always looking at his watch – as if they are missing something. They have to reach somewhere, and there too they will do the same thing. If the train is five minutes late everybody is complaining, all are angry.

“I had been traveling for twenty years all over this country and I was puzzled. If the train is just one hour late, everybody is so angry and condemning the government and the society and everything. Why can’t you rest? If the train is one hour late it is a great opportunity. One hour is yours – you can rest. You have at least an excuse: ‘The train was late, what to do? So I rested, relaxed.’ But no, they cannot; they become more and more boiled up, they start spitting fire.

“These same people when they reach home will sit before the idiot box, TV, for five hours. The average American is doing that for five hours per day. There is a great danger for America because of this idiot box. If you look at an idiot box for five hours, it has a hypnotic effect – you are bound to become idiotic! Only an idiot can look at a box for five hours, and they are glued to their chairs; they cannot get up. I have heard they eat their food just sitting in front of the TV. Not only that – they will even make love just in front of the TV so they can do both the things, making love and watching the TV because something may be missed!

“Now these idiots are in the majority. And they will play cards and if you ask why they will say, ‘Killing time.’ One minute the train is late and they are angry, and then what do they do with the saved time? They kill it! Going to the movie, killing time – sometimes going to see the same picture again. Stupidity seems to be infinite. Now what are you going for – the same picture again? But the time has to be killed.

“They will go to the Rotary Club, to the Lions Club. And all these clubs exist for people to kill time, to meet the same fools, to say the same foolish things, to gossip about the same old nonsense – to kill time. They will go to the restaurants, to the hotels, to the parties to kill time.

“And look at their faces – they are bored everywhere. Whatsoever they are doing they are bored, obviously, because they are not into it. They are somehow trying to finish it to save time, and then they have to kill time. Killing time, saving time, killing time, saving time…. The whole of life is gone! And you come empty-handed into the world and you go empty-handed.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. The only thing worth remembering again and again is: …what peace there may be in silence.

“Give a little time, energy, to silent moments because only in silent moments will you know what peace is. And the person who has tasted something of peace is rich, is immensely rich – all others are beggars – because he starts knowing the inner kingdom of God. Peace is the door to the inner kingdom of God. Silence helps you to know peace and peace leads you into godliness.”

Excerpted from Osho, Guida Spirituale, Talk

Pharmacy for the Soul