What Makes a Good Vacation?

I’ve been thinking a lot about vacation lately — specifically what makes a vacation feel like it was a real vacation. Jonah Lehrer makes some interesting points about distance, both physical or symbolic, and I tend to agree that all good vacations allow you to view your non-vacation life from a new perspective. However, simply going to the Caribbean isn’t enough to gain that new perspective. If you wake up every morning in sunny Jamaica and proceed to frantically check your Blackberry for work updates, it is doubtful you will reap the mental benefits of vacation.

That’s why I think a good vacation boils down to a change in priorities.  Successfully changing your priorities (e.g. choosing a movie to watch instead of checking your Blackberry upon first waking up) will not only make you forget your old concerns and feel like you’re living a new life, but you’ll gain insight into your “old” life by being able to analyze it from a viewpoint that’s not consumed by the importance of your old priorities.

My advice to those who are desperate for a real mental vacation is to download an entire television series or a new computer game. Take a week and completely lose yourself in another world .  Make conquering a fictional planet tor bringing Avon Barksdale to justice your new top priority.  Eventually your working-life concerns will fade away and your brain will get the break it needs.

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