Stories & Reflections
Today, I came upon this interview in The New York Times with Dr. Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness”. This particular part of the interview caught my eye :
Professor Happiness: The interview
by Claudia Dreifus The New York Times
Q. DO MOST OF US HARBOR UNREASONABLE NOTIONS OF WHAT HAPPINESS IS?
A. Inaccurate, flawed ideas. Few of us can accurately gauge how we will feel tomorrow or next week. That’s why when you go to the supermarket on an empty stomach, you’ll buy too much, and if you shop after a big meal, you’ll buy too little.
Another factor that makes it difficult to forecast our future happiness is that most of us are rationalizers. We expect to feel devastated if our spouse leaves us or if we get passed over for a big promotion at work.
But when things like that do happen, it’s soon, “She never was right for me,” or “I actually need more free time for my family.” People have remarkable talent for finding ways to soften the impact of negative events. Thus they mistakenly expect such blows to be much more devastating than they turn out to be.
Q. SO, IF WE DIDN’T HAVE THESE MECHANISMS, WOULD WE BE TOO DEPRESSED TO GO ON?
A. There may be something to that. People who are clinically depressed often seem to lack the ability to reframe events. That suggests that if the rest of us didn’t have this, we might be depressed as well.