We are told from a very early age that we shouldn't ignore our problems. As a happiness researcher, though, I disagree. You absolutely should avoid the things that are bothering you--temporarily, at least.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, taking time away from your problems may actually help you reap one of the greatest competitive advantages that exists today. Let me give you an example from Hollywood.
In the '90s classic What About Bob?, psychiatrist Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) is desperate to get his annoyingly persistent patient Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) out of his hair. So he writes him a prescription not for medication, but for a "vacation from his problems." Naturally, the plan backfires as Bob decides to take his vacation to the same locale as Dr. Marvin.
Comedy aside, that prescribed remedy has some fantastic scientific validity.
In recent years, I've partnered with the U.S. Travel Association on their initiative Project: Time Off, a robust examination of the business implications of taking time away from work. According to U.S. Travel, Americans are taking less vacation time than at any point in the past four decades.
One reason, according to the project's managing director, Gary Oster, is that Americans think taking time off will negatively impact their manager's perception of them. But research shows the opposite to be true. According to our new research, people who take all of their vacation time have a 6.5 percent higher chance of getting a promotion or raise than people who leave 11 or more days of paid time off unused.
Here's one possible reason for this: Research proves that when the brain is positive, productivity improves by 31 percent and sales by 37 percent. Creativity triples, and revenues can triple as well! It's true. The single...