Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happiness, all in the mind?

A twenty-minute video that defines happiness in ways I have not heard before was published by Ronni Barrett on her blog, As Time Goes By, a couple of days ago. click here and watch video As the speaker, Daniel Kahnemann, says, "happiness is big business these days." There are numerous books about it, and numerous counselors eager to have you pay them to help you be happier. But, as Kahnemann says, thinking about happiness and well being is a very big muddle. He makes enormous sense and I would say he barely scratches the surface of what he could say.

He speaks of the experiencing self and the remembering self, which are very different. The remembering self is a story teller and that story is usually based on the whether the ending of the story is a happy or sad one despite what you might have experienced almost right up to the end. He mentions a person reporting about a magnificent musical performance that was ruined by a horrible noise at the very end. The experiencing self enjoyed 95% of the performance, but the remembering self forgets all that and considers the whole experience ruined and terrible because of the awful ending. I think some people may remember differently but certainly many do remember in this way. He begins differentiating about being happy IN your life and being happy WITH your life and at the end about how happiness, for Americans, seems very dependent on whether you make $65,000 a year or less. I believe that could bear a little more looking into also, especially as it's the result of a Gallup poll and all huge polls like this depend on how questions are asked and how statistics are gathered and analyzed.

The speech takes 20 minutes but anyone curious about their own experience of happiness [isn't most everyone curious?] will find things to think about in what is talked about on this little video. Because I'm an Internet ignoramus I don't know how to post it directly on here, so you need one extra click by going to Ronni's blog and then to the video. I recommend it.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting and thought provoking post. Before I go to sleep, I try to say to myself as often as I can, "This has been a good day." I learned to do this by focusing on the things that went right. If nothing went right, which is seldom, I think, "tommorrow is another day." Call it the 'Scarlet O'Hara syndrome', but I find I am happier if i do this. Dianne

Kass said...

Is happiness a byproduct? Or a choice?

Interesting post. I'll go look at the video.

June Calender said...

Diane, I think the speaker partly takes your method into consideration. Miss Scarlet did all right.

Kass, it's apparently some of both and much more besides.

Rain said...

Interesting. I think we can overcome an ending unless it says something about the entire thing we watched or heard and it's that way with our life. It might be tough once someone has a horrible disease but it doesn't mean memories can't be sweet. It is though the kind of thing you can debate like when someone has lived an exemplar life and then does something horrendous to others at the end of it, what does that say about the person?

June Calender said...

Yes, Rain, it's all very subjective -- the kind of thing you can sit up all night and discuss and probably never resolve. But the happiness thing is for individuals to know about themselves and they probably never can be sure how others feel or why.