I see I am the only person this article annoyed; it did when I first saw it. It told me instructively things I have long understood - why make a deal out of the obvious - and I deleted it from my NYT info. No, I didn't finish it, had enough.
With all this good opinion from people who I listen-up to, I'll go back and check Soz's link and give it another try.
Osso, I'm a sucker for science that proves, or at least scientifically demonstrates, intuitive truths. I loved the stuff about people who didn't have a choice about what photo to return being more satisfied than those who had a choice, for example.
The hot and cold stuff was really cool, too. Let me get that, referred to it before...
While Gilbert's most notable contribution to affective forecasting is the impact bias, Loewenstein's is something called the ''empathy gap.''
Here's how it expresses itself. In a recent experiment, Loewenstein tried to find out how likely people might be to dance alone to Rick James's ''Super Freak'' in front of a large audience. Many agreed to do so for a certain amount of money a week in advance, only to renege when the day came to take the stage. This sounds like a goof, but it gets at the fundamental difference between how we behave in ''hot'' states (those of anxiety, courage, fear, drug craving, sexual excitation and the like) and ''cold'' states of rational calm. This empathy gap in thought and behavior -- we cannot seem to predict how we will behave in a hot state when we are in a cold state -- affects happiness in an important but somewhat less consistent way than the impact bias. ''So much of our lives involves making decisions that have consequences for the future,'' Loewenstein says. ''And if our decision making is influenced by these transient emotional and psychological states, then we know we're not making decisions with an eye toward future consequences.'' This may be as simple as an unfortunate proclamation of love in a moment of lust, Loewenstein explains, or something darker, like an act of road rage or of suicide.
Among other things, this line of inquiry has led Loewenstein to collaborate with health experts looking into why people engage in unprotected sex when they would never agree to do so in moments of cool calculation. Data from tests in which volunteers are asked how they would behave in various ''heat of the moment'' situations -- whether they would have sex with a minor, for instance, or act forcefully with a partner who asks them to stop -- have consistently shown that different states of arousal can alter answers by astonishing margins. ''These kinds of states have the ability to change us so profoundly that we're more different from ourselves in different states than we are from another person,'' Loewenstein says.
Yes, I agree with that generally. On the other hand, I personally remember how I felt in different states of being, quite well, and do take it into account. Might have to do with age and a nature tuned to selfobservation (hmm, confession at seven?). I know and exhilarate in my own wildness. Ah'm not unacquainted with myself.
Well, I don't know now precisely why this article set my teeth on edge a few days ago. Back on that manana if - or if not - I reacquaint myself with it.
Hmmm; 'happiness'; the illusive 'holy grail'.
I find i am tending toward the deobjectifation of desire;
I am slowly divesting myself of the need for 'things'.
My entire sense of satisfaction from life 'events' comes from 'culture' which is in my 'minds eye' (my definition) the relationships of people to people, as seen through the 'lens' of the arts.
For example, i find pleasure from multimedia equipment, only insofar as it connects me to the current work being done in various fields that make up the 'culture' of 'today'. I no longer relish in the 'specs' of the equipment for the sake of 'possessing' it.
I see all possessions as a 'tool' to an end, or they are redundent.
This is not to mistakenly mean that artworks 'in my care' (never possessed) are not tools; they are, perhaps the most important, as they reflect 'who i am'; second only to my connections to 'others'.
I'm happy when I feel emotionally stimulated.
The direction of stimulation doesn't matter, I can be deliriuosly happy when in an absolute towering rage or when I'm having an instense moment with a partner or in a seriously passionate discussion with a group of friends.
Emotional stimulation is the key for me. If I'm not feeling then I might as well be dead.
I am not so sure if what follows is relevant to this thread. But since it is a thread about happiness, I suppose my post is relevant.
The happiness that is related to success of pursuit is not so much a mental or physical satisfaction as a intermediate way leading to unsatisfaction. So instant is the happiness earned by successfully doing something that in a second you are going to be trapped once again in unhappiness, because happiness of this sort is predetermined to rest upon some successes. In other words, when the success is gone and drawn inexorably into the past, the only way of retaining some sense of happiness is the occurrence of another success. Simply put, it is the definition making success prior to happiness that condemns the happiness of the sort into insatiability and enduring sufferings.
Happiness, however, is nothing more than peace arising inside and resting itself upon your soul. The peace comes from no where but only from inside you. The peace follows nothing external to your heart. Not a event is able to call into life this peace. Whereas the happiness related to external incidents is ephemeral, the peace in your soul endures to the caprice of external world. This peace, in every way, is the real happiness, the one that brings the everlasting felicity.
Hello acepoly. Your last paragraph is probably one of the best writings about happiness that I have ever read.
Pieman, thanks for identifying with my viewpoint.
For me, I am in the process of searching for this peace. For the last twenty years I 've spent on this planet, senses of insecurity has never let go of me. Adversity is the leitmotif of my life. One day I realized that I was probably in need of a religious belief. But my entrenched common sense plus rationality failed to give any room for any bit of religious belief. Last year, two missionaries from the religion of Morman (no comments on the tenets of this sect) came up to one of my friends and me. They were really fine people in whom I perceived that peace. But I can't convince myself of being converted. Maybe I am too old to be converted, I think.
Later, I began to concerntrate on philosophy. Not that I don't have a philosophy of my own but that my philosophy suffers unbearable ambivalence. It is my philosophy that drags me into the abyss of insecurity and sadness. So probably my salvation lies in the works of past philosophers. A relatively consistent philosophy, just like a religious belief, will bring that peace to you.
I don't think that anybody has mentioned the "I" factor in this debate. Our evocation of a "self concept" is contantly changing with respect to perceived goals, hence our fluctuating views of happiness. Philosophies which expose the "illusion of becoming" solve the constant striving for happiness by objectivizing and trivializing "self".
I'm happy when I wake up every day ~ and I try very hard to not take any of my time here for granted.
happiness is a ghostly cloud that jumps back just enough out of our reach when we seek to embrace it.
I just printed the article. (Pardon me, but I've been rushed off my feet for the past week or so.) It looks very interesting. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
I'll be back! (if I have any fresh pearls of wisdom to contribute!
The idea of our having a 'happiness set point' is irritating, but reassuring in a way. I've always wondered how people can find a sense of peace/contentment while in the midst of war, with the loss of loved ones, or with the devastation of a serious disease.
thats a very complicated way of saying not only do you not know what makes you happy, you never will.
I admit, I didn't read the whole thing, but from what you said in that first post - well, if happiness isn't defined by what you think you like, than what is? If doing something gives you mental pleasure, I would consider that happiness. Is there something besides the brain that you think determines what makes you happy and what doesn't? Also, why would the brain be regulating us? Does it have some alternate agenda that we aren't aware of? Again, this makes little sense. Many people (myself included) find happiness not in having or possessing something, or in some success, but in working toward it, and staying busy, and having a goal in life. Just because you don't doesn't mean that we are somehow warped.
I've always wondered how people can find a sense of peace/contentment while in the midst of war, with the loss of loved ones, or with the devastation of a serious disease.
I guess it is the acceptance of "what is". What you cannot alter, you accept. But more importantly it is because of "hope". With hope, they have something they can look forward to, and hold on to. These keep them going despite of the war, devastation, famine, or loss. :-)
Having goals is itself something that has been found to increase happiness.
This article made a huge impression on me, I've referred back to concepts in it many times since. So thought I'd note here that there is a new book by one of the main guys in the article, Daniel Gilbert, called "Stumbling on Happiness."
.... and now, 2 years later, I've finally gotten around to reading that book!
I'm halfway through it and lovelovelove it. The happiness part per se is actually somewhat tangential in terms of what interests me -- all kinds of brain research in the book that is fascinating. And a whole lot that applies to how my brain fills in so much sound in my life -- hows and whys and stuff that make me go "a-ha!" But the happiness stuff is very cool, too.