Photo: Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, Florida, USA, March 2023.

It is winter here in New England, and we have been talking about where to go for the upcoming spring break. I am already late. Many couples or parents probably make spring break plans during the prior year.

But we ran into an interesting problem. After checking out numerous places in the world on Google Maps and YouTube, we realize that we would not be any happier than just staying put. What is going on?

By having time of our own (well, far from 100%, but at least having some time of our disposal), we are already having some kind of peace of mind. We also have all the facilities that are associated with vacationing, such as lounge chairs or places to go swimming. Once you start enjoy the time, even if for some short period of time, you are in the vacation mood. Then it matters less where you are.

Of course, I still long for warmer climate. Research has shown the warm temperature is a much stronger drivers of happy mood than good weather. But being in a warmer place will not make you happy. Being in a cold place will not make you necessarily unhappy. It is ultimately how you think about life. Are you having life as if you are on vacation.

Stephen Hoch, one of the professors in my Ph.D program, was a colorful figure. He wears shorts and Hawaiian shirts all year around. And he used to say: “Weather is state of mind.” Now I finally understand what he means.

Vacation, too, is a state of mind.