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Stumbling Around Happiness

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Stumbling Around Happiness


When people think of ‘science’, they naturally think of atoms, planets, robots — things they can touch and see. They know that subjective experiences such as happiness are important, but they believe that such experiences can’t be studied scientifically. That belief is dead wrong.
–Daniel Gilbert.

I often think about Daniel Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness when I find myself in exactly the situation he described in the book. Based on his work in the research science lab at Harvard in “affective forecasting,” which investigates how well people make predictions about the emotional impact of future events, the results of our collective capacity on knowing what we want and how it will make you feel is not promising. Humans are not terribly successful at predicting the reactions of our future selves to our current desires.

Our brains and our eyes mislead us. They conspire together to support each other in believing the distortions of reality to fit our expectations. Gilbert explains: “Distorted views of reality are made possible by the fact that experiences are ambiguous , that is, they can be credibly viewed in many ways, some of which are more positive than others. To ensure that our views are credible, our brain accepts what our eye sees. To ensure that our views are positive, our eye looks for what our brain wants. The conspiracy between these two servants allows us to live at the fulcrum of stark reality and comforting illusion.”

What this all means to me tonight is that like most of us, it is hard to remember that the life we are having is precisely the one we choose, and frequently have worked very hard to maintain. But then you look around and realize that you thought it would feel differently, having achieved what you wanted. I am on the brink of some big changes in my work life and with my family. My children growing up and away still need to be attended as much as they want their freedom and the balance of contact is precarious and unpredictable for both sides.

My recent successes in winning investment require dramatic shifts in responsibilities and, while I longed for the support and relief that comes with letting go to other competent people, I never understood how much of my identity and capacity to express myself would be trimmed away in the transition. All of the developments are positive and leading in a good direction, yet I struggle with finding the happiness that I believed would come along when I imagined this future.

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Read more: Inspiration, Love, Mental Wellness, Relationships, Spirit, Wendy's Positivity Quest,

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

36 comments

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5:59AM PDT on Apr 11, 2012

Thanks for the article.

9:39AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

I was given a nice desk calendar for Christmas last year. It's called Believing in Ourselves and each day there's an empowering or inspiring or funny comment by a woman. Thursday's said, 'The life you have led doesn't need to be the only life you have' - Anna Quidlen. So, if it's no longer serving you, there's always some change you can make to try to make things feel more authentic.

3:47AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

So there's collusion within, huh?

8:30PM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Thanks for the insight.

8:56PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

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1:56PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

thanks!

1:41PM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

I think of King Solomon trying to be happy. More wives, more horses, more gold, big temple. Naw, happiness comes from G-d and yourself. Accomplishing goals, helping others. That's what gives me happiness. We are all so lucky.

12:21AM PDT on Aug 11, 2010

Thanks.

3:22AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

thanks for this

2:13AM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

interesting.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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