Saturday, September 02, 2006

C'mon, Get Happy

This excellent article from In These Times looks at the common strands and differences in several of the more popular recent books on happiness. In reviewing Daniel Gilbert's work, the author summarizes with this gem:
"The vision we have of what will make us happy in the future is a mere reflection of our present. But our imagination is as unreliable as our memory; we can’t correctly foresee what will make us happy in the future."
Via Mutual Improvement.


Myron said...

A good interview on CBC's Tapestry this past Sunday (yesterday). The author interviewed warned people not to be too hopeful when they get what they want, for this type of happiness is short-lived.

Interesting note, even afer life-shattering events (becoming a parapelegic), people very quickly got back to their former level of happiness.

Also, humans have a very poor memory of how happy they once were.


Jeremy said...

Thanks for the comment, Myron -- I would have liked to hear that Tapestry interview.

Happiness is one of those topics that seems so simple on the surface, but I'm endlessly fascinated by all the different dynamics as I dig deeper into the topic. Right now I'm reading The Paradox of Choice, which is about how we make decisions, and the study of happiness permeates that area as well...since the decisions we make tend to be motivated by happiness, or at least what we think will make us happy. Almost across the board, he finds that we don't tend to be very good at making decisions that will result in our happiness.

Myron said...

I suppose the paradigm is always changing. Based on RIGHT NOW, I think ________ will make me happy. Almost invariably, we will at least percieve that the reality has changed once the 'wish' is granted.

It seems like something worse than a moving target, for the target changes once it is hit.

Jeremy said...

Yes, totally. In the Paradox of Choice, the author talks about the importance of adaptation as well. As a defence mechanism for times of hardship, adaptation keeps us alive and relatively happy...but we also adapt to happy times by expecting more happiness, which isn't as healthy.