Friday, July 07, 2006

Does Fatherhood Make You Happy?

Although this article by Daniel Gilbert coincided with Father's Day, the insights can certainly be applied to moms as well. It's short and oh-so-smart. Are parents lying when they say their kids are their greatest source of happiness?
"Psychologists have measured how people feel as they go about their daily activities, and have found that people are less happy when they are interacting with their children than when they are eating, exercising, shopping or watching television. Indeed, an act of parenting makes most people about as happy as an act of housework. Economists have modeled the impact of many variables on people's overall happiness and have consistently found that children have only a small impact. A small negative impact."
He offers some fascinating reasons why we love our kids so much despite the lack of evidence that they make us happy -- read it to find out what they are.

I liked this article so much that I went into a web of stuff by the author. I was most interested in his talk on Affective Forecasting, which is basically studying how people predict they will react to future events (both negative and positive). A flavour:
"What's interesting to me is that while money is weakly and complexly correlated with happiness, and social relationships are strongly and simply correlated with happiness, most of us spend most of our time trying to be happy by pursuing wealth. Why?"

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