Edgeplay Week 3 : Happiness and Values

What is happiness? What would it mean if you were happy?

These are huge questions and we will come back to them. The first video in this set is a long and technical talk by Daniel Kahneman. The first 3:48 of the talk is his introduction.

How often have you thought about an event (marriage, job change, divorce, weight change) and estimated that it would make you happy?

Why do we have the wrong intuitions?

There is a difference between living and thinking about it…. The choices people make are guided by their memory, not the reality of their experience.

Someone is doing the living at all times, and then occasionally we stop and think about our life.

Those are not the same people.

Which of the two matters more?

To complicate the question a bit more, there is the experiencing self, the remembering self, and the future self. You are in a complicated relationship and didn’t realize it. All of you have different goals. Who will you satisfy this time? How will you satisfy that version of your self?

[If you are interested in the Day Reconstruction Method, it is very similar to a Jesuit meditation, details found here.]

I can tell you that when I was young and foolish and by that I mean about eight years ago, I thought that what really matters is the experiencing self. Who cares about the remembering self, it’s just a story we’re telling.

What he found was

… people have a narrative of their life. They have a story of their life. They care a great deal about that story. They make choices to keep it good or to improve it**. In short, people care a great deal and take actions based on anticipated memories.

What’s the problem with that?

In the how-much-pleasure-do-you-get-from-your-car experiment, we can see the difference between the experiencing and remembering self. The correlation between the blue book value of your car and the amount of pleasure you report getting from your car is respectable (about .35, or roughly the same between the correlation between SAT scores and college grades). The correlation between the blue book value of your car and the pleasure you get from your commute is zero. You get pleasure thinking about your car, not necessarily from being in your car. Different animal altogether.

The Focusing Illusion
Nothing in life matters quite as much as you think it does while you are thinking about it.

Why is the Focusing Illusion important for decision-making?

What role does attention pay in our experienced happiness?

What could you do day-to-day to feel more happiness?

**I disagree with Dr. Kahneman.  People make decisions not necessarily to “keep it [objectively] good” but rather to maintain it. We are heavily invested in our version of our story.

What about values?

I would like to convince you to use your values to make decisions. In this talk, Tony Hsieh talks about values and decision-making at Zappos.

How in your life do you “hire” and “fire”?

There are so many people in corporate America, where they’re a different person at home, on weekends versus when they show up into the office on Mondays. And they end up leaving a little part of themselves, or in many cases a big part of themselves at home…. That leads to discussions about work/life balance.

Who are you?

How are you being and what are you doing when you are your authentic self?

Can you imagine giving someone a tour of your Real Self and saying “Here’s the bathroom, there’s the lunch room, go wherever and ask what you want?”

You are not your space suit self.


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