Happiness: A Choice?

2 Jan

SueHappyWhat is happiness? Well, it turns out, it’s not what you think. As a matter of fact, it’s probably the opposite of what you think.

This TED talk rewired my brain and my outlook.

Seriously. Watch. It.

If you don’t have time to watch, here’s the (highly inferior) gist …

When we’re making a decision, the experience simulators in the frontal lobe of our brains help us—but also trick us. The impact of one choice is overemphasized when in fact, not given a choice, you could be equally happy with either option.

The talk gives the extreme example of winning the lottery or becoming paraplegic. Mentally, you balk at this. But that’s just your experience simulator firing. The truth is, science and statistics prove that both experiences have the potential for equal happiness.

“Why? Because happiness can be synthesized,” Dan Gilbert says. His study went on to prove that, although it’s our tendency to believe that “natural” happiness is better than its potential “synthetic” offshoot, it’s simply not true. In fact, in many cases, natural happiness has greater potential for disappointment because we’re always second-guessing our choices and not accepting what we have.

As Sir Thomas Brown said, “I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity.'”

Turns out, we all have that in us, too.

So that is my New Year’s resolution: to find the happiness in whatever I get and am given. What’s yours?

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14 Responses to “Happiness: A Choice?”

  1. Arlene March 2, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    Very interesting. I enjoyed this video, and I am enjoying exploring your blog. Good work.

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