Our very own psychological immune system

I thought I had watched all the TED talks on happiness, but I seem to have missed out on one important one: Dan Gilberts: The Surprising Science of Happiness, also hosted on TED radio hour on NPR.

It’s a very fruitful time personally to hear about Dan’s data and conclusions about synthetic happiness. Giblert talks about our psychological immune system: cognitive processes that help us change our views about the world so we can feel better about the world.

“We synthesize happiness but we think happiness is a thing to be found,” he says. We tend to have expectations of things that should happen, what we should be doing, or how we should be acting- and when those expectations go array- that’s when our happiness level drops. It’s hard to explain the disappointment when such an emotion occurs, but it’s easy to makes sure to let everyone know that we are upset. That, in itself, is frustrating to me – and something I need to work on.

Gilbert continues to use data to show that the more freedom we have to choose and to make up our mind and change our mind is the enemy of synthetic happiness, because no matter what we choose, we will be dissatisfied with our choices. We will always be left wondering whether the other choice is the better one.

The problem with having FOMO (The Fear Of Missing Out) is that I tend to leave myself open to all of my options for things to do, things to eat, and what I want to do- what continues is a long struggle and battle in my mind about what to do- and as Professor Gilbert said, I tend to be dissatisfied with whatever I choose. Or I am left utterly lost, confused, and unable to explain why I was feeling the heavy emotions I was feeling to anyone that asked.

It’s a weird thought to think about. Definitely something to keep in mind every time I make a decision. And when something doesn’t go as expected, I need to train my brain to remember the psychological immune system, and how we have the ability to change our perspective, and how we look at the given situation.

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