The AtlanticThe Atlantic

How to have your most fulfilling vacation ever

By Arthur C. Brooks

27 Jul 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. The Atlantic's Arthur C. Brooks argues that using vacation time as an opportunity to learn something new can lead to increased happiness and satisfaction.

L<span>ooking for a</span> good vacation this year? You might choose from a number of models. For example, Instagram Adventure, in which you pick an exotic destination, pack as much as you can into every day, take a million pictures, and document everything on social media to advertise that you are as energetic in leisure as you are at work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Couch Potato, which means that you fritter away the entire two weeks doing very little. Other popular options include Two Endless Weeks in My Childhood Bedroom (for 20-somethings) and A Whole Month’s Pay Shot at Disney Because the Kids Whined All Year (for 30-somethings).

One great vacation model, which harks back to the ancients, is frequently overlooked. The word for “leisure” in Greek is σχολή, or skhole. In Latin, the word is schola—from which we get “school.” In other words, the name for the place where we teach and learn derives from the word for “leisure.” One way to interpret this is that education is a recreational activity (a concept that may strike my hardworking students as counterintuitive). But a better explanation comes from the 20th-century philosopher Josef Pieper, who believed that leisure is the circumstance in which we can learn the most, if we understand and use it properly.

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