TED: Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness”, challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.
Extras din transcript:
From field studies to laboratory studies, we see that winning or losing an election, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion, passing or not passing a college test, on and on, have far less impact, less intensity and much less duration than people expect them to have.
In fact, a recent study — this almost floors me — a recent study showing how major life traumas affect people suggests that if it happened over three months ago, with only a few exceptions, it has no impact whatsoever on your happiness.
Why? Because happiness can be synthesized. Sir Thomas Brown wrote in 1642, “I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity. I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me.” What kind of remarkable machinery does this guy have in his head?
Well, it turns out it’s precisely the same remarkable machinery that all off us have. Human beings have something that we might think of as a “psychological immune system”. A system of cognitive processes, largely non-conscious cognitive processes, that help them change their views of the world, so that they can feel better about the worlds in which they find themselves. Like Sir Thomas, you have this machine. Unlike Sir Thomas, you seem not to know it.
We synthesize happiness, but we think happiness is a thing to be found.
Photo: Happy from Shutterstock.