Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It’s So Nice To Be Happy (Sha-la-la-la!)

Who doesn’t want to be happy? All of us seek happiness, and so we try our best to do things, choose paths and make decisions in the hope that these things, paths and decisions will make us happy.

In his fascinating bestseller “Stumbling On Happiness,” psychology professor Daniel Gilbert points out, argument after argument and experiment after experiment, that human beings are quite incapable of assessing accurately one’s happiness in the past as well as predicting one’s future happiness.

Having a faulty memory of the past can easily be explained. The human mind is a powerful alteration-machine, capable of revising, justifying and adjusting memories to fit a person’s needs. In other words, it magnificently lies.

How our mind fools us with the future is a little trickier. Trying to predict if in the future we’ll be happy takes imagination; unfortunately, imagination always falls way off the mark when it comes to predicting happiness. We use several techniques in computing the odds of achieving happiness; however, experiments prove that the techniques we use are always faulty and reflect more the present condition rather than the future one. And often our reaction turns out to be not what we imagined it to be.

Gilbert actually suggests a way in which one can accurately guess our happiness—by using other people’s experience to predict our own happiness. However, he also states that people will never agree to this (I can imagine you disagreeing right now) because people refuse to believe that we’re like other people. We insist that we are unique individuals.

Despite the fact that our minds cannot predict our happiness, it continues to do so. In fact, Gilbert asserts that planning and predicting helps keep a mind stable.

“Stumbling On Happiness” is not a self-help book; it is merely interested in showing us the human condition as is. It is also a very easy read for a highly technical topic, and an amusing one at that. You may not end up happy after reading the book, but you certainly will know why.

2 comments:

Anonimus said...

For the looongest time I've refused to measure life in "happy" units.

I think somewhere in my blog I've said this before but I'll say it again: engineering happiness is futile. You can't manufacture happiness. You can't fake it either. You take what you get and you can't have more than what's given.

Xander said...

Kaya kita kinausap that time sa CBTL e. This is where I got the idea from hahaha!