Can taking a short trip make you happier than a longer vacation?
Acclaimed psychologist Daniel Kahneman says, Yes. Well… probably. It all depends on the weight you place on the experience versus the memory of the experience. Let’s break it down.
In this Ted Talk, Daniel Kahneman explains that the traveler essentially has two selves: the “experiencer,” who careens down the slopes and sips hot chocolate in the Swiss lodge, and the “rememberer,” who answers the question So, how was your vacation in the Alps?
Kahneman teaches us that we should tailor our experience to suit the rememberer in order to create an experience we will find pleasurable long after the goggle tan fades.
We can do that by harnessing the power of the short trip. In his own words:
We were in Switzerland, a while ago, and we had three days of vacation. And the last day was absolutely glorious and the next day we had the opportunity to go on for another morning. And my wife and I both decided not to.
Say what, Mr. Psych? I should sacrifice a day of sweet, sweet powder because… why?
The human brain is geared to evaluate the pleasurableness of an experience based on the tail end. In other words, bad weather or a nasty fall on last day could ruin the memory of your ski trip, even if the rest of your vacation was a nonstop thrill ride. For this reason, Kahneman recommends you quit while you’re ahead.
See you on the slopes, ski bunnies.