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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Myths of Happiness

From ABC's 20/20, Friday January 11, 2008, "What Makes People Happy?" with Shannon Costello and Bill Weirs (video clip — may expire):

Despite what your biological urges and your grandma tell you, having kids won't make you happier. Teenage kids will make you miserable.

[ . . . ]

Our brains remember the highs, the first steps, and the warm hugs, but they forget the lows, the diapers, and the tantrums; the selective memory keeps us breeding, and keeps the economy humming.

Haven't I been saying that all along? Breeders, ugh!
What does Michael Swaim call it?
A post-placental want machine.

From an article:

According to Harvard professor and author of "Stumbling on Happiness," Daniel Gilbert, most of our attempts to predict future happiness are erroneous.

[ . . . ]

[S]ociety gives us some myths about sources of happiness. Everyone from our grandmother to our bartender to the taxi driver to Dear Abby has some prescription for the happy life. Turns out that if you submit these to scientific analysis, some of these prescriptions are right, but some of them are dead wrong."

[ . . . ]

Gilbert claims genes are particularly influential in proving the phrase "bundles of joy" to be a bit of a misnomer.

"Our genes tell us that if we procreate we'll be happy, and one of the ways they perpetuate themselves is by getting us to do their bidding. Now usually people won't do things unless they think those things are gonna make them somewhat happy, and so we had developed in our culture, like all cultures, a strong belief that children are a strong source of happiness," said Gilbert. "The data suggests otherwise. The data don't suggest that children make you miserable, but they suggest that, by in large, it's a wash. Children have very little effect, it appears, on their parents' day-to-day happiness."

From another article:

Scientists have known for decades that a large part of our temperament is genetically pre-determined; by studying the personalities of identical twins they've found that about 50 percent of our happiness -- or unhappiness -- can be traced to our genes. Adding the 40 percent that we can control with our daily thoughts and actions still leaves about 10 percent unaccounted for. This remaining 10 percent is related to our life circumstances, such as where we live, how much money we have, our marital status, and how we look.

[ . . . ]

Researchers have found that people eventually return to their genetically-determined happiness set points after big changes in life, as seen in lottery winners and newlyweds.

Quiz: How happy are you?

IMHO, I think the quiz is too simplistic. Then again, I am one cynical, pessimistic, sadistic spoon-stirrer (Thank you, Inferno Ed) who gets his jollies from winding people up. (Notice "gadfly" in my profile?)

High-testosterone people reinforced by others' anger, new study finds

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Most people don't appreciate an angry look, but a new University of Michigan psychology study found that some people find angry expressions so rewarding that they will readily learn ways to encourage them.

"It's kind of striking that an angry facial expression is consciously valued as a very negative signal by almost everyone, yet at a non-conscious level can be like a tasty morsel that some people will vigorously work for," said Oliver Schultheiss, co-author of the study and a U-M associate professor of psychology.


I like what I do, so I'll do what I like. Don't you agree?
         (The Cheshire Cat in American McGee's Alice)

Stirring makes me happy, so I guess I'll keep on stirring.



Blogger Hon Shin said...

I wonder what kind of look you appreciate? Especially when it comes to certain people who get caught in situations where they have no where to run after being bombarded by flaming asses and pig trotters?

January 15, 2008 5:22 AM  

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