Hedonism, the key to sanity

At last! You’ve worked all year long for this and you’re finally heading off on that much-needed holiday of which you’ve been dreaming.

Fantastic. Of course, you’ll need to be fully prepared and packing wisely is the first step. So make a checklist: mobile phone, laptop, Blackberry, printed itineraries, workout clothes, video camera and fat-burning pills.
Got them all together? Good. Now stuff them all in a bag and chuck them in the back of the closet.

If you’re to gain anything whatsoever from this vacation, you’re going to have to break a few bad habits before you set off. Unfortunately, these days, it seems as though leisure and pleasure have joined the ranks of the lost arts. People stare at computer screens all day, eat lunch at their desks, plan their daily schedules on hand-held devices, yammer away on their mobiles about nothing at all and make “play dates” for their children. Obsessed with becoming richer, thinner, more successful and, even, implausibly younger, millions of us deprive ourselves on a daily basis of the one thing we misguidedly believe we are rushing towards — the good life.

But what exactly is the good life? Is it not a blissfully unstructured day, free of interruption and anxiety, an afternoon nap and an evening of good food and wine followed by conversation, laughter and whatever else may pop up?

Well, it certainly should be. And that is why, when the holidays finally arrive, you must say no to technology, excessive planning and ambitious itineraries. The perfect vacation is one during which you decompress, slow down and return to that long-lost state of childhood bliss. In short, it’s all about hedonism.

To some, the notion of hedonism conjures up visions of excessive, reckless and selfish debauchery, but this is a misguided interpretation of a truly beautiful concept. The true philosophy of hedonism is based on the premise that pleasure is the highest good and that everything we do should be in the pursuit of pleasure. That said, the philosophy also warns that we must also avoid those pleasures which may lead to pain. A few glasses of wine with dinner is pleasurable, but a few bottles will surely lead to some serious pain the next morning. You see? It’s very simple.

The key to a truly satisfying vacation is to allow it to unfold naturally and not to race about trying to pack everything you ever imagined into a limited time span.

1. Ditch the technology:

You don’t need your phone. Just leave the name of the hotel with your family for emergencies. You do not need to bring your laptop to check in with work. If you believe that it will all fall apart in your absence, you are mistaken. No one is indispensible. You do not need to take along a video camera. You want to enjoy your vacation, not document every step of it in order to torture the relatives when you get back home.

2. Indulge yourself:

You do not need to work out, jog or count calories on vacation. You should focus on rejuvenating both your soul and body by eating well, sleeping in, enjoying the sun and reclining frequently. Don’t deny yourself the cream sauces, the pastas and the desserts. If you really want to improve your health, there are plenty of proven benefits to be found in red wine, abundant laughter and good sex.

3. Get lost:

When it comes to sightseeing, try not to get carried away. You do not need to see everything. Forge your own path and find your own little corners of the city. The simple act of wandering aimlessly can yield the most wonderful surprises. Allow yourself to get lost and see what happens.

4. Lose the watch:

If you truly want to make the most of your holiday, you need to slow down. An afternoon nap is not time wasted. Your time will be much better spent slowing your heart rate and calming your mind than it will racing about waving maps in the air.

5. Savour the sensual:

It is also worth pointing out that holidays are a time for sensuality. It may very well be of a romantic nature, but it might also be as simple as bobbing in the ocean, sunbathing in the nude or splurging on a massage at the hotel. Avoid the temptation to judge, overthink and evaluate every experience you have. If it’s good, stay there. If it’s not, move on.

6. Cut loose:

That said, no holiday is truly complete without a hint of the scandalous.

At some point, take advantage of your anonymity and let go of your inhibitions. You didn’t fly all this way to be a wallflower, did you?

7. Make the most of it:

At the end of the day, your vacation is not about the postcards you send home, the number of landmarks you photograph or the souvenirs you buy for those at home. It is about you and your quality of life. Hedonism is not selfish, it is not reckless and it is not wrong. In the world we now live in, it is the key to sanity. Enjoy!—Â