Update on Happiness
I’ve finished reading Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness, and I now know his secret for achieving happiness: surrogation.
When we make decisions about our future Gilbert encourages us to observe people at random who have done the thing we are contemplating and to use that information in making our own decisions.
We have a lot of objections to this way of running our lives, particularly to the randomness of the observation. This is because we think we’re different. Psychologists tell us we aren’t. Many more than 50% of people polled rate themselves as well above average, whether the question is about our penmanship or our decision making. Ninety six percent of us think we are above-average drivers.
So look around you. Are richer people happier? Are parents of teenagers glowing with the deep and lasting joy of childrearing? Are blondes having more fun?