Written by Umang Saini
"Everyone fails, all of the pop quizzes all of the time" --Dan Gilbert.
*Note - the content quoted in this post is attributed to the research of Dan Gilbert, who is a psychology professor at Harvard, and author of "Stumbling on Happiness". The basis being the talk delivered by him at TED Global in July 2005.
Are you happy? If not, then I have some good news for you.
Happiness can be synthesized.
i.e. We can synthesise happiness and get "Synthetic Happiness" for ourselves, which according to Dan Gilbert is every bit as real and enduring as natural happiness.
Natural Happiness - It is what we get, when we get what we wanted.
Synthetic Happiness - It is what we make, when we don't get what we wanted.
So why are you sad anymore, go ahead and synthesize some happiness for yourselves? Oops. I didnt tell you how to do that?
Well, even I didn't knew, until I stumbled upon a TED video of Dan Gilbert. If you like it straight from the horses mouth then go watch the video.
Else, for the summary of that - keep reading. According to him, in the 2 million years of evolution, our brains tripled in mass from 1.25 pounds to 3 pounds. And brain got a few new parts in this evolution. The Frontal Lobe, in particularly - pre-frontal cortex. What's it. This is our brains "Experienced Simulator" and our happiness depends on our simulators. And guess what, we are in-charge! So your happiness is in your hands.
Let me summarise the key points about the simulator, which will help you to drive it better, i.e effectively be more happy than you are. Like the idea?
1. Simulators are affected by an "Impact Bias" - The tendency for the simulator to work badly - it makes us believe that different outcomes are more different than they really are. While, in fact - they have far less impact, less intensity and much less duration that what people expect them to be, because their simulator has this tendency to fail.
2. Freedom to make a choice is the enemy of synthetic happiness. More choice is very bad for simulator, so getting stuck is the best thing that can happen to you. All one has to do is to help themselves and others to accept the things they cannot change!
3. There is an unanticipated joy in being toally stuck - it is what the simulator loves. So if you are stuck, I would say - Lucky you.
A Beautiful Hyperbole by the bard
"Tis nothing good or bad, But thinking makes it so."
More practical, sober reality
"The great source of both the miseries and disorders of human life, seems to arise from over-rating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Some of those situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others: but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardour which drives us to violate the rules either of prudence of or justice; or to corrupt the future of tranquility of our minds, either by shame from the remembrance of our own folly, or by remorse from the horrors or our own injustice."
Father of Modern Capitalism, Theory of Moral Sentiments - 1759.
In simpler words of Dan Gilbert himself -
"Yes somethings are better than others. Preferrences are good but - but when they drive us too hard and too fast - because of overrating the differences, it becomes risky.
When our Ambition is bounded - It leads us to work joyfully.
When our Ambition is unbounded - It leads us to lie, cheat, steal, hurt others, sacrifice things that are of real value.
When our fears is bounded - We are prudent, cautious, thoughtful.
When our fears is unbounded and overblown - We are reckless and cowardly
Lesson: Our Longings and worries are always to some degree overblown - because You have the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience."
So long, happy simulations.