Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fake Happiness?

I spent some time in the south while traveling around and the people there seem to live like shit a lot. I was hanging out at the low end of the economic scale. Lots of disabled people and the disabled tend to have less wealth. The people seemed to be content though and I had a hard time understanding it. They all complained about the place, nothing to do it was hot and muggy whatever. I wondered how these people didn't kill themselves in this day after day despair and yet most of them seemed to be happy. In a very interesting talk I listened to by Dan Gilbert I was given a bit of explanation. I have been listening to TED talks at their web site and they are fascinating. I enjoy listening to really bright people talking about interesting things. I have a very stunted perspective based on isolation and expanding my outlook is always a good thing I tend to be flexibly rigid in my thinking. Anyway back to fake happiness the brain can make you happy with what you get even when it is not what you want as long as you don't have to think about it too much. This is a simplified version of Gilbert's talk. The mind seems to be set up to keep most people from going crazy and my guess is this evolved because you can't always get what you want. The science bears out the monks, "happiness is wanting what you have". turns out that eventually you will like what you end up with. I am curious as to how this works in the third world as many of the depressed people would medicate with drugs and alcohol. If you are happy why are you stoned or are you happy because you get stoned? The bottom end threshold, at what point do the physical circumstances make a difference. This research was conducted on college students and people in a hospital so how would that translate to the truly poor. The marketing implications are interesting and it fits into the consciousness question how does you know you are happy? This always gets back to the question how did we get from a big blob of cells to a thought? Along that vein look up wether or not anyone is thinking about the communication between bacterium and between neurons.

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