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The Surprising Science of Happiness

I enjoy TEDTalks and this one by Dan Gilbert really gives you something to think about in regards to happiness.

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong — a premise he supports with intriguing research. 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.

Perhaps this is why entitled people, like Bridezillas, never really seem happy despite getting what they want.


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  • Politrix February 10, 2016, 10:47 am

    I think Spock said it best: “Having something is to as desirable as wanting it.”

  • Dee February 10, 2016, 11:59 am

    Some people are just born more positive towards the world, and others more negative. No matter how they try to talk themselves into feeling differently their default is still one side or the other. t would love it if scientists could explore that, to see how to tweak that tendency in extreme individuals, even the “happy” ones, as it’s not a good thing to be overly positive, either.

    • Lanes February 11, 2016, 7:03 pm

      I think that’s a nature vs nurture question, and my opinion falls on the side of nurture.
      Otherwise, how can two people with even the same DNA such as twins, grow up to be so different?

      I think it’s life experience that teaches you to be positive or negative as a child and thus deeply ingrained in your personality, but as an adult you have the power to change the way you think, and change that positive/negative attitude. It’s not easy of course, which is why depression takes such a long time to truly overcome, but it is possible.

      • Dee February 12, 2016, 2:39 pm

        Lanes – It seems to be far more nature than nurture, even in identical twins, where often the case is that one develops a genetic disease and another does not. Lots of really fascinating studies regarding twins raised together and how different they sometimes can develop, as they grow. I intended to raise my kids as neutral as possible to let them develop as their interests grew but it was very clear that they were hard-wired right from birth. Of course, it is possible to influence people as they grow but it is not possible to change their wiring. That is where their default lies.

      • Elizabeth February 16, 2016, 9:11 am

        I disagree. My own childhood was difficult with an alcoholic father and lazy mother. I am a very positive person and my outlook is still generally it could have been worse! My husband, on the other hand, had a wonderful childhood with loving parents and no real problems growing up. He is a true Eeyore. I am always the one boosting his spirits. So I think it is genetic.

  • Karen G February 10, 2016, 2:22 pm

    Not quite – “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but is often true.” #treknerd

    • Politrix February 11, 2016, 10:22 am

      Karen G,
      I stand corrected — thanks!
      (RIP Leonard Nimoy)

  • Multi-Facets February 10, 2016, 2:23 pm

    That’s kind of like a short story I read as a kid: A little girl loved admiring her grandmother’s heirloom pearl ring and wished she didn’t have to be older to wear it, so her grandmother let her have it for a day. The girl spent hours worrying she might get it dirty or lose it, which was the last thing she wanted because it was her grandmother’s. At the end of the day, she returned the ring safe and sound, and said she could wait until she was older to wear it and take better care of it.

  • Coralreef February 10, 2016, 4:04 pm

    It’s not getting what you want, it’s wanting what you got. – Lyrics from a song by Sheryl Crow – Soak up the sun.

  • Just4Kicks February 13, 2016, 11:25 am

    My dear departed Grandma used to tell me two things that I live by to this day.

    “Be careful what you wish for….you just might get it.”

    “God always answers your prayers….it just might not be what you prayed for.”

  • Mojo February 15, 2016, 3:12 am

    Reminds me of the dance at the end of ‘Zorba The Greek’. They’ve lost everything, all their loves and schemes have gone awry, but the two men decide to dance and laugh, finding false, synthesised happiness in a terrible situation.