HappinessThe Business Traveler Network recently posed the question, “Do you check work email while on vacation?”  Most people answered that they do. One respondent indicated that they took a Blackberry, iPhone and two laptops on vacation – yeow.

Why? Evolving economic theory suggests that people are generally competitive (homo rivalis) seeking to do better than their rivals even when the competition has a cost. This theory of competition is at odds with standard theory that suggests people generally attempt to maximize value (homo economicus). If competition is the core of human nature, then checking and responding to emails during vacation is an important mechanism continuing to compete, even on vacation.

Occam’s razor suggests that the simplest answer is generally the best one. In this case the simplest explanation is that you check email to avoid being overwhelmed when you return which generates. If you fail to check email while on vacation, it will lead to frustration and reduce your happiness! The reduction in overall happiness impacts your ability to compete. While I have been told that there are about a million logical and medical fallacies in the statement, I suggest that that checking email on vacation will lead to a better competitive position, less frustration and  a cleaner inbox, all of which equates to happiness.