It’s been a tough year and you are looking forward to that holiday you booked months ago. Then the scurry to pack and travel and then — nothing. An anti-climax: you’re sitting on a patio, looking out over a gorgeous vista with a cocktail in your hand yet you don’t feel the contentment and relief you expected. In fact, you feel irritated and even more stressed than when you were at work. The dreamt-of holiday is not doing what it was supposed to: refresh, revive and de-stress you. Instead, you feel a kind of "holiday apathy". Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, working with a research team at the University of Chicago, went some way in explaining why, when we set time aside for leisure, we often feel agitated. Optimum experience, or plain happiness, is mostly experienced when we are in "flow", Csikszentmihalyi found. Having coined the term, he explained it as "being fully involved with every detail of our lives. Optimal experience is what the sailor holding a tight course feels whe...

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