Click here to Download Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book by Daniel Gilbert having PDF Size 3.6 MB and No of Pages335.
How can this happen? Shouldn’t we know the tastes, preferences, needs, and desires of the people we will be next year–or at least later this afternoon? Shouldn’t we understand our future selves well enough to shape their lives-to find careers and lovers whom they will cherish, to buy slipcovers for the sofa that they will treasure for years to come?
Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book by Daniel Gilbert
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So why do they end up with attics and lives that are full of stuff that we considered indispensable and that they consider painful, embarrassing, or useless? Why do they criticize our choice of romantic partners, second-guess our strategies for professional advancement, and pay good money to remove the tattoos that we paid good money to get?
Why do they experience regret and relief when they think about us, rather than pride and appreciation? We might understand all this if we had neglected them, ignored them, mistreated them in some fundamental way-but damn it, we gave them the best years of our lives! How can they be disappointed when we accomplish our coveted goals.
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And why are they so damned giddy when they end up in precisely the spot that we worked so hard to steer them clear of? Is there something wrong with them? Or is there something wrong with us? Now, if you were put on a hot-fudge diet and managed to double your mass in a very short time, we would not expect all of your various body parts to share equally in the gain.
Your belly and buttocks would probably be the major recipients of newly acquired flab, while your tongue and toes would remain relatively svelte and unaffected. Similarly, the dramatic increase in the size of the human brain did not democratically double the mass of every part so that modern people ended up with new brains that were structurally identical to the old ones, only bigger.
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Rather, a disproportionate share of the growth centered on a particular part of the brain known as the frontal lobe, which, as its name implies, sits at the front of the head, squarely above the eyes (see figure 2). The low, sloping brows of our earliest ancestors were pushed forward to become the sharp, vertical brows that keep our hats on.
And the change in the structure of our heads occurred primarily to accommodate this sudden change in the size of our brains. What did this new bit of cerebral apparatus do to justify an architectural overhaul of the human skull? What is it about this particular part that made nature so anxious for each of us to have a big one? Just what good is a frontal lobe?
So here’s the question: If this were your life rather than theirs, how would you feel? If you said, “Joyful, playful, and optimistic, ” then you are not playing the game and I am going to give you another chance. Try to be honest instead of correct. The honest answer is “Despondent, desperate, and depressed. ” Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book
Indeed, it seems clear that no right-minded person could really be happy under such circumstances, which is why the conventional medical wisdom has it that conjoined twins should be separated at birth, even at the risk of killing one or both. As a prominent medical historian wrote.
“Many singletons, especially surgeons, find it inconceivable that life is worth living as a conjoined twin, inconceivable that one would not be willing to risk all-mobility, reproductive ability, the life of one or both twins-to try for separation.”3 In other words, not only does everyone know that conjoined twins will be dramatically less happy than normal people.
But everyone also knows that conjoined lives are so utterly worthless that dangerous separation surgeries are an ethical imperative. And yet, standing against the backdrop of our certainty about these matters are the twins themselves. When we ask Lori and Reba how they feel about their situation, they tell us that they wouldn’t have it any other way. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book
In an exhaustive search of the medical literature, the same medical historian found the “desire to remain together to be so widespread among communicating conjoined twins as to be practically universal. ” 4 Something is terribly wrong here. But what? THERE AREN ‘T MANY JOKES about psychology professors, so we tend to cherish the few we have. Here’s one.
What do psychology professors say when they pass each other in the hallway? “Hi, you’re fine, how am I?” I know, I know. The joke isn’t that funny. But the reason it’s supposed to be funny is that people shouldn’t know how others are feeling but they should know how they’re feeling themselves. “How are you?” is overly familiar for the same reason that “How am I?” is overly strange.
And yet, strange as it is, there are times when people seem not to know their own hearts. When conjoined twins claim to be happy, we have to wonder if perhaps they just think they’re happy. That is, they may believe what they’re saying, but what they’re saying may be wrong. Before we can decide whether to accept people’s claims about their happiness. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book
We must first decide whether people can, in principle, be mistaken about what they feel. We can be wrong about all sorts of things-the price of soybeans, the life span of dust mites, the history of flannel-but can we be wrong about our own emotional experience ? Can we believe we are feeling something we aren’t?
The human brain creates a similar illusion. If you’ve ever tried to store a full season of your favorite television show on your computer’s hard drive, then you already know that faithful representations of things in the world require gobs of space. And yet, our brains take millions of snapshots, record millions of sounds, add smells, tastes, textures, a third spatial dimension, a temporal sequence.
A continuous running commentary-and they do this all day, every day, year after year, storing these representations of the world in a memory bank that seems never to overflow and yet allows us to recall at a moment’s notice that awful day in the sixth grade when we teased Phil Meyers about his braces and he promised to beat us up after school. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book
How do we cram the vast universe of our experience into the relatively small storage compartment between our ears? We do what Harpo did: We cheat. As you learned in the previous chapters, the elaborate tapestry of our experience is not stored in memory-at least not in its entirety.
Rather, it is compressed for storage by first being reduced to a few critical threads, such as a summary phrase ( “Dinner was disappointing”) or a small set of key features (tough steak, corked wine, snotty waiter). Later, when we want to remember our experience, our brains quickly reweave the tapestry by fabricating-not by actually retrieving-the bulk of the information that we experience as a memory.
This fabrication happens so quickly and effortlessly that we have the illusion (as a good magician’s audience always does) that the entire thing was in our heads the entire time. In other words, brains believe, but they don’t make believe. When people see giant floating heads, it is because giant heads are actually floating in their purview. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book Download
And the only question for a psychologically minded philosopher was how brains accomplish this amazing act of faithful reflection. But in 1 781 a reclusive German professor named Immanuel Kant broke loose, knocked over the screen in the cornet of the room, and exposed the brain as a humbug of the highest order.
Kant’s new theory of idealism claimed that our perceptions are not the result of a physiological process by which our eyes somehow transmit an image of the world into our brains, but rather, they are the result of a psychological process that combines what our eyes see with what we already think, feel, know, want, and believe.
And then uses this combination of sensory information and preexisting knowledge to construct our perception of reality. “The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing,” Kant wrote. “Only through their union can knowledge arise. “16 The historian Will Durant performed the remarkable feat of summarizing Kant’s point in a single sentence. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book Download
“The world as we know it is a construction, a finished product, almost-one might say-a manufactured article, to which the mind contributes as much by its moulding forms as the thing contributes by its stimuli. ” 17 Kant argued that a person’s perception of a floating head is constructed from the person’s knowledge of floating heads.
Memory of floating heads, belief in floating heads, need for floating heads, and sometimes-but not always-from the actual presence of a floating head itself. Perceptions are portraits, not photographs, and their form reveals the artist’s hand every bit as much as it reflects the things portrayed.
In so doing, you made an error that your future spaghettieating self may regret.25 The phrase “spaghetti for dinner tomorrow evening” does not describe an event so much as it describes a family of events, and the particular member of the family that you imagined influenced your predictions about how much you’d enjoy eating it. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book Download
Indeed, trying to predict how much you will enjoy a plate of spaghetti without knowing which plate of spaghetti is like trying to predict how much you will pay for a car without knowing which car (Ferrari or Chevy?), or trying to predict how proud you will be of your spouse’s accomplishment without knowing which accomplishment (winning a Nobel Prize or finding the best divorce lawyer in the city?.
Or trying to predict how sad you will be when a relative dies without knowing which relative (dear old Dad or cranky Great Uncle Sherman on Cousin Ida’s side twice removed?). There are endless variations on spaghetti, and the particular variation you imagined surely influenced how much you expected to enjoy the experience.
Because these details are so crucial to an accurate prediction of your response to the event you were imagining, and because these important details were not known, you would have been wise to withhold your prediction about spaghetti, or at least to temper it with a disclaimer such as “I expect to like the spaghetti if it is al dente with smoked pomodoro.” Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book Download
What makes us think we’re so darned special? Three things, at least. First, even if we aren’t special, the way we know ourselves is. We are the only people in the world whom we can know from the inside. We experience our own thoughts and feelings but must infer that other people are experiencing theirs.
We all trust that behind those eyes and inside those skulls, our friends and neighbors are having subjective experiences very much like our own, but that trust is an article of faith and not the palpable, self-evident truth that our own subjective experiences constitute. There is a difference between making love and reading about it,
And it is the same difference that distinguishes our knowledge of our own mental lives from our knowledge of everyone else’s. Because we know ourselves and others by such different means, we gather very different kinds and amounts of information. In every waking moment we monitor the steady stream of thoughts and feelings that runs through our heads. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book Free
But we only monitor other people’s words and deeds, and only when they are in our company. There are many things other than the size of a person’s bank account that influence how much utility they derive from the next dollar. For instance, people often value things more after they own them than before.
They often value things more when they are imminent than distant, they are often hurt more by small losses than by large ones, they often imagine that the pain of losing something is greater than the pleasure of getting it, and so on-and on and on and on. The myriad phenomena with which this book has been concerned are just some of the not-so-rare exceptions that make Bernoulli’s principle a beautiful. ]
Useless abstraction. Yes, we should make choices by multiplying probabilities and utilities, but how can we possibly do this if we can’t estimate those utilities beforehand? The same objective circumstances give rise to a remarkably wide variety of subjective experiences, and thus it is very difficult to predict our subjective experiences from foreknowledge of our objective circumstances. Stumbling on Happiness PDF Book Free