I recently listened to a Ted Talk podcast by Dan Gilbert speaking about happiness. He talked about synthetic happiness. According to Dan “synthetic happiness is when humans help themselves by changing their views of the world so they can feel better about their worlds that they find themselves”. In other words when we don’t get that job we wanted, we tend to react at first disappointed, but then convince ourselves it wasn’t meant to be and find reasons the job was wrong. Are we seeing it more realistically and clearer or justifying it so we feel better?
I pondered this and decided who cares! I think as humans we suffer enough. We are so incredibly hard on ourselves, never feeling enough, never getting to the right weight, never the right job, or relationship, always thinking we need more, more, more. It’s wonderful to challenge yourself but when do you experience real and lasting joy?
Dan says “When checking the temperature a year later of people who won the lottery compared to a person who had an accident and became a paraplegic, there was little difference in their ability to be happy.” He says we don’t see our resiliency and that we are bad at predicting how bad or good we will feel about future events. We tend to think in extremes when imagining the future and inflate our happiness or our unhappiness in those visions. To me that tells me we don’t really know what’s going to make us happy or unhappy until we try it. That’s the good news but lasting joy?
I was reading about the motivational guru Tony Robbins and how he was depressed 4 years ago even after having it all. I thought if you haven’t figured it out Tony, how are we supposed to find it? Well don’t worry, he worked through it and now you can take his workshop and he’ll show you how.
Ok, I’m joking but it’s a lesson for all of us. We are just not realistic about happiness but we are resilient in finding it. To me it is a choice. When happiness comes at you in unexpected ways; internally, externally, vigorously at times, in just sound bites or missing for awhile, embrace it the moment when it does enter. Even if it’s only synthetic.
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