20 फ़रवरी 2018

स्टम्ब्लिंग ऑन हैप्पीनेस

 मनोविज्ञानिक डेन गिल्बर्ट ने ख़ुशी के मनोविज्ञान पर अपनी किताब स्टम्ब्लिंग ऑन हैप्पीनेस में बहुत से रोचक और उपयोगी बातें लिखी है।

What is real happiness? Is happiness that we make up true happiness?

According to social psychologist, Dan Gilbert, there are 2 kinds of happiness. One is natural happiness which we experience when we get what we want and the other is synthetic happiness which we manufacture when we don’t get what we want.

Here’s a question for you: Is one better than the other?

Let’s find out.

In denial or truly happy?
I am sure you have heard about people who after experiencing a bad event or a disappointing setback tells others and themselves that they are better off despite not getting what they want and that they wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

Well, it turns out that these people aren’t overt-optimists who are in denial about their misfortune. It turns out that their “synthetic” happiness did make them happy. For real.

In his Ted Talk, social psychologist Dan Gilbert talks about people fabricating happiness after not getting what they want or experiencing a real nasty experience such as being wrongly convicted and served decades worth of a jail sentence for something he has not done.

The sentiment expressed by the man who was wrongly convicted was that it was a “glorious experience”. Really? Surely that is not the right feelings to have after serving time for so long for something you did not do?

Naturally, we think that these people must be lying to themselves, they can’t be truly happy with their experience but we could be wrong….

Using unconscious memory to test happiness
Well, in an experiment Gilbert conducted on patients with anterograde amnesia who cannot form new memories he first asked the patients to rate a lineup of 6 Monet prints from 1 being the least-liked to 6 being the most-liked. Then, he told them that as a gift they would be given either print number 3 or 4 as a gift and most of them picked number 3 over 4 just because of preference. The researchers then left the room and returned (bear in mind that the patients do not remember the research team nor what transpired before) and the patients was asked again to rank the 6 paintings from least-liked to most-liked.

Here’s the interesting bit:

The individuals now rank the number 3 painting at number 2, higher than before and the number 4 painting which was rejected was now ranked even lower than before at number 5. The results indicated that they are happier with the painting they had owned more than before and they liked the rejected painting even less even though they do not have any conscious memory of the paintings.

With this experiment, Gilbert found that individuals make their own synthetic happiness unconsciously. Gilbert also found that this unconscious ability to synthesize happiness happens more often in situations where we do not have control over the situation.

In essence, we are really good at making ourselves feel better about an outcome that occurs from a situation that is out of our hands.

Now, what does this mean for you and why should you pay any attention?

Here are 3 reasons why you should pay attention:

1. Synthetic happiness is not fake. It is not something you make up when you are pissed off about not getting what you want. Synthetic happiness is a natural mechanism we all have in our brains that lets us see a not-so-ideal situation in a different light and learn to like our situation which in turns does let us become happier in time to come.

2. The ability to synthesize happiness is a vital skill to have because we cannot have everything we want all of the time. The truth is we will all face disappointment at some points in our life and we need to be able to manufacture happiness and become adept at seeing the better side of life.

Here’s a point to ponder: clinically-depressed individuals do not have the ability to synthesize happiness in most situations of their lives and that is why they find it harder to see the greener side of life.

3. We often grossly overestimate or underestimate how naturally happy we will feel in any situation. Truth is we will only truly know how happy we will feel and continue to feel when we are actually experiencing thus being able to synthesize happiness helps us cope with the uncertainty of our future outcome.

In Conclusion:
The joyful state that we feel is made up of both synthetic and natural happiness. Neither is better than the other because to lead a balanced life we need both: Natural happiness lets us experience the good stuff and synthetic happiness lets us adapt and appreciate what we do have when the outcome is less than ideal. When you start exercising the ability to synthesize happiness, you may find that some situations are not as terrible as they appear at first.

Key Take Aways

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, teaches us that synthetic happiness is just as real and enduring as real happiness.  Dan also teaches us that our longings and worries are overblown because we have the capacity to create happiness within ourselves rather than depend on experiences.

 Here’s my key take aways:

Our prefrontal cortex is our experience simulator.  In 2 million years our brains grew almost 3 times as big.  As they grew, we got a new structure, the prefrontal cortex.  The prefrontal cortex acts as an experience simulator.  None of our ancestors and no other animal can simulate experience the way we can.

Our mental simulator works badly.  We have impact bias.  Impact bias is our tendency for our mental simulator to work badly.  We imagine one scenario to be dramatically different from another scenario in terms of impact.  For example, the differences between winning or losing an election, gaining or losing a romantic partner, getting or not getting a promotion, passing or not passing a college test have far less impact, less intensity, and much less duration than we expect.  The differences between winning or losing and getting or not getting is less significant because happiness can be synthesized.

Synthetic Happiness.  Synthetic Happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we want.
Natural happiness .  Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we want.

Synthetic Happiness is as real as natural happiness.  Synthetic Happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you get when you get exactly what you were aiming for.

Experiments show we can’t predict our happiness.  Experiments show time and again we can’t predict our happiness.  We overestimate our pleasures or overestimate our pains.  For example, we overestimate that winning the lottery will increase our happiness and we overestimate that losing the use of our legs will ruin it.

Experiments show that choices can negatively impact our happiness.  When we have choices we worry about opportunity lost.  When we don’t have choices we come to like what we’ve got, more than what we originally predicted.

Freedom is the friend of natural happiness.   When you get what you want, this is the playground of natural happiness.
Freedom to choose is the enemy of synthetic happiness.   When you don’t get what you want, this is the playground of synthetic happiness.

Our longing and worries are overblown.  Our longings and worries are overblown because we can manufacture our own happiness from within.

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