Dan Gilbert’s The Surprising Science of Happiness

Podcast Review by Indu Balakrishnan

The pursuit of happiness. When I saw that movie, I was pretty sad during most of it. There was a lot of chasing. A lot. But then, when they did get happy, it was really something. 

It then got me thinking. The surprising science of happiness. 

Dan Gilbert, the author of ‘Stumbling on Happiness’, challenges the idea that we will be miserable if we do not get what we want. He believes that our psychological immune system lets us feel truly happy even when things do not go as planned. 

Accused and guilty of being a pollyanna, I totally believe in this theory. It is up to us to get happy. Feel it. Even if there is no reason to, according to others. Because, happiness is such an internal emotion, and that’s how it should be. When your happiness depends on an external factor, for instance, can your happiness be guaranteed? On the other hand, when your happiness is in your hands, isn’t that what the doctor would order? 

Dan says that while pilots practice in simulators so that they do not make the same mistakes in real life, we humans have this amazing adaptation to have the experience in our heads before trying it out in real life. (I call it the what-if game). Besides, data says that events – be it winning the lottery or having a baby – have far less impact or intensity than expected. He thinks that happiness can be synthesized. Irony is that, while we synthesise it, we believe that it can be found. And hence the search and the pursuit and more movies on it. 

Listen to his Ted Talk to see what happiness is all about. Whether we have to search for it, or just look inside of us. 

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