Tag Archives: #satisfaction

Frequent Travel Could Make You 7% Happier (Travel)

People dreaming of travel post-COVID-19 now have some scientific data to support their wanderlust.

A new study in the journal of Tourism Analysis shows frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.

Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, conducted a survey to find out why some individuals travel more frequently than others and whether or not travel and tourism experiences have a prolonged effect on happiness and wellness.

The results of his analysis show individuals who pay more attention to tourism-related information and frequently discuss their travel plans with friends are more likely to go on regular vacations than those who aren’t constantly thinking about their next trip.
Additionally, participants in the survey who reported regularly traveling at least 75 miles away from home also reported being about 7% happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported traveling very rarely or not at all.

“While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction,” Chen said. “It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things.”

Previous studies have examined the stress relief, health and wellness benefits of tourism experiences, but they have tended to examine the effect of a single trip or vacation. Chen’s research takes these previous studies one step further by looking at the sustained benefits of travel over the course of a year.

Participants in the study were asked about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over a year. They were also asked about their perceived life satisfaction. Out of the 500 survey participants, a little over half reported going on more than four pleasure trips a year. Only 7% of respondents did not take any vacations.

As travel restrictions due to COVID-19 begin to relax in the future, the research could have important implication for both tourists and the tourism industry. Based on the results of the study, Chen said travel companies, resorts and even airlines could launch social media campaigns, such as creating hashtags about the scientific benefits of vacation, to spark people’s interest in discussing their opinions about travel.

“This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them,” he said. “If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation.”

Reference: Chen, Chun-Chu, Zou , Sui-Wen (Sharon), Petrick, James F., “Would you be more satisfied with your life if you travel frequently”, Tourism Analysis, 2020. https://doi.org/10.3727/108354220X16072200013427 https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ta/pre-prints/content-2017-0010#Cits

Provided by WSU

Do Interesting Experiences Make a “Good Life”? (Psychology)

For some, “psychological richness” is as important as happiness and meaning.

What makes a “good life”? Philosophers and psychologists have historically focused on two aspects: happiness and meaning. The happy life, high in hedonic well-being, is filled with positive emotions and satisfaction.  The meaningful life, high in eudemonic well-being, is filled with purpose and virtue.

Why then do some people pursue experiences that appear neither happy nor meaningful—reading literature that elicits sadness, horror, or envy; attending Burning Man; eating hot peppers? Might some people even want a life characterized by such experiences, rather than happiness or meaning? Recent work led by Shigehiro Oishi, Hyewon Choi, Lorraine Besser, and colleagues suggests the answer to this latter question might be yes.

Specifically, Oishi and Besser propose another aspect of the good life: “psychological richness.” The psychologically rich life includes variety, novelty, complexity, and perspective-changing experiences. Such a life may include intense positive and negative emotions, and does not necessitate meaning. In short, a rich life is interesting.

To test this possibility, Oishi and colleagues surveyed over 3,728 participants from 9 countries about their “ideal life.” When forced to choose one type, the vast majority in each country reported they desired a happy (50-70%) or meaningful (14-39%) life. But 7-17% reported they would choose the rich life.  A follow-up study of 1,611 Americans and 680 Koreans found that 28% and 35%, respectively, regretted an event that, if changed, would make their life psychologically richer.

A separate series of studies found that people with higher levels of openness to experience and extraversion reported leading more psychologically rich lives. Self-reported social class and other demographic differences, however, were unrelated to life richness. This suggests that unlike a “happy” life—which is generally reliant on financial and societal stability—a psychologically rich life may be possible for anyone, regardless of their situation.

These findings may explain why some people prefer to literally shock themselves with electricity rather than sit in boredom; why the stereotypical middle-aged man toys with leaving his loving family for “something new”; or why a young lawyer leaves her career to pursue psychology, because it’s just really interesting. They’re also consistent with older findings that some people thrill-seeking and contained risks, even when they aren’t pleasurable, per se.

This type of well-being also means that people with unhappy or seemingly meaningless lives can still enjoy a certain type of “good life”—one stemming from unique or perspective-changing experiences. Recognizing richness may even help people appreciate tough experiences or unexpected changes.

Better understanding of psychological richness will, in Oishi’s and colleagues’ words, “yes, enrichen our understanding of well-being.”

Declaration: Elizabeth Gilbert was tangentially involved in some early work on these ideas with Oishi and Choi.

This article is originally written by Elizabeth Gilbert, who is a psychologist with expertise in decision-making and well-being. She is currently a researcher at PsychologyCompass, an automated coach that helps people reach their peak performance. This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses.

What Religion Gets Wrong About Masturbation (Psychology)

It’s not bad for you. It’s good for you.

The history of the world’s religions is one of significant strife: Protestants and Catholics in deadly battle; Shiites and Sunnis at long-lasting war; Christians and Muslims in constant conflict; Christians and Muslims persecuting Jews; Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists oppressing Muslims; Muslims persecuting Bahais and Copts; and so on.

©gettyimages.

And yet, amidst all this discord, there is one thing that the world’s major religions do seem to agree on: masturbation. A large number of major religions have long declared it to be bad, immoral, sinful, and injurious.

Touching yourself to produce sexual pleasure, according to many religious doctrines, is harmful—both spiritually and physically. John Wesley, the founder of Methodist Christianity, preached that masturbation caused nervous disorders and madness. Ellen Gould White, the founder of Seventh Day Adventism, disparaged masturbation as “vice.” The Catholic Church currently castigates masturbation as “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that masturbation is a “form of uncleanness” that can be ” mentally corrupting.” Among the Mormons, Jains, Sikhs, Orthodox Jews, Buddhist monks, and most schools of Islam, sexual self-pleasure is strictly forbidden.

While the world’s religions may appear to be of one mind about masturbation, it is likely a dramatically mistaken mind. According to the personal experiences of billions of people, as well as the empirical findings of science, masturbation is actually not bad for you. It is, in fact, rather good for you.

In a recent study conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen, Germany, orgasm resulting from masturbation was shown to boost the white blood cells that help fight infection. This study confirms what other researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction have found, specifically that:

  • Masturbatory orgasms lower stress by producing dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which act to counter stress-inducing cortisol levels.
  • Masturbation fosters relaxation, which helps people sleep better, which is extremely important in maintaining health.
  • Masturbation is correlated with bolstering the immune system.

As a recent report from Big Think summarizes, “While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.”

Other researchers have found that self-produced orgasms can reduce pain from migraines. For women, masturbation can decrease menstrual pain, and for men, it is correlated with a lower risk of prostate cancer. Additionally, masturbation is one of the safest ways to experience sexual pleasure, given that the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease is zero.

And yet, despite the manifest harmlessness—and additional physical and psychological benefits of masturbation—some religions continue to wrongly condemn it as both dangerous and shameful.

While it is impossible to know exactly why the various people who created the world’s major religions promulgated such hostility to and stigmatization of masturbation, we do know that they lived in times when superstition reigned and science was in its stumbling infancy. The people who gave us the Torah, the Bible, the Qu’ran, and the Vedas did not know about germs, or dopamine and serotonin, or how communicable diseases spread, or how our immune systems work. Their sexual ethics were tribal, parochial, mythical, patriarchal, fearful, and societally immature. And they were objectively wrong about many things—especially regarding masturbation. It does not cause harm or pain, but rather has multiple benefits. It is, in short, a very sound and healthy practice.

As more and more humans reject the religions of old, they may experience increased well-being—both physically and emotionally—as they satisfy themselves sexually, unencumbered by old ignorance, needless distress, or toxic self-loathing.

References: Haake P, Krueger TH, Goebel MU, Heberling KM, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M. Effects of sexual arousal on lymphocyte subset circulation and cytokine production in man. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2004;11(5):293-8. doi: 10.1159/000079409. PMID: 15316239.

This article is republished here from psychology today under common creative licenses