If you’re like most people, you probably think you know what makes you happy. Unfortunately, science says there’s a good chance you don’t.
When asked if they think they’d be happier winning the lottery or becoming paraplegic, most people quite understandably respond that they’d be happier with all that money and no handicap.
Still, real life statistics show that one year after winning the lottery or losing the use of their lower body, people in both these groups are equally happy. Yes, really, EQUALLY.
When estimating our happiness, we humans tend to engage in something called “impact bias” where we overestimate the actual effect that different outcomes will have on our life.
Dan Gilbert the speaker on this video and the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” claims we humans are happiness synthesizing machines. This means we can create happiness out of any situation, so the actual things that happen in our life; the real outcomes we get, are not as important to our happiness as we think they are.
What is “synthetic happiness?” Gilbert says “real happiness” is what happens when we get what we want and synthetic happiness is what we create when we don’t get what we want.
It’s a great theory. I love it. But I’m not a fan of the name. What Gilbert is calling “synthetic happiness” is what I might call “soul growth” or “spiritual happiness”, because when we don’t get what we think we want, we are forced to grow from the inside out. We are pushed into a position where we need to evaluate our outcome and change our behaviors (or at least own that we don’t want to engage in the behaviors we believe will get us what we think we want). Out of this, we get a deeper sense of self and others and we course correct in ways that make us — well, happier.
Gilbert mentions the fact that our love grows when we consciously choose one thing over another. That’s conscious growth. Choosing to love, and to have that love deepen. It’s the opposite of waiting for some passing emotion to come and grab us. It’s the cultivation of love and appreciation.
From my experience as a yoga teacher and life coach, the biggest gifts of our lives come from the times when we don’t get what we want. A disappointing experience forces us to re-evaluate and to evolve. And perhaps, that’s the reason we’re really here — to grow — and to serve others out of our own growth. Oh, and of course, to find a deep happiness (even a sense of fulfillment) from our growth and service.
Watch the enlightening and entertaining Ted Talk by Dan Gilbert above and learn about how you pursue happiness both consciously or unconsciously. It just may make you grow a little bit.
Vicki Howie is the Creator of Chakra Boosters Healing Tattoos™ (find out what inspired her to create them here). She’s also the Creator of Chakra Love, the Chakra Life Cycle System® and she’s the Co-Editor of Conscious Life News. You can visit her website chakraboosters.com,facebook page and youtube channel for lots of free chakra info and gifts. If you enjoy her innovative chakra work, you can pre-order her new book “The Key to Your Chakras” here on amazon.com. Love and blessings!