Wired To Be Happy!

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert has done extensive research on the way our brain functions when simulating future experiences. Most people assume they would be happier a year after winning a lottery ticket as opposed to meeting with an accident and becoming paraplegic. Gilbert, however, argues that events, no matter how significant, have little impact on our level of happiness several months after they have taken place.  This, he explains, may be because our brains have an inherent ability to accept things we cannot change, and to make the best out of a situation – a psychological capacity to create happiness, that Gilbert calls “Synthetic Happiness”.

If you find this topic interesting, we recommend that you listen to this 21-minute TED talk where Daniel Gilbert compares the happiness we feel when we get what we want, versus the one we are able to develop when we don’t get what we thought we wanted. He also explains that our psychological immune system (the ability to generate happiness) works most efficiently when we are stuck with an irreversible situation.

You may also want to read Can Happiness Be Predicted?, our article on Daniel Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness, that talks about our tendency to make inaccurate predictions about our future based on our past experiences and memories.

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