We have the apparatus to be happy, says Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness.”
His study found is that our frontal lobe helps us create a psychological immune system to fabricate happiness anytime we want. What are the applications of this study for us chasing happiness everyday of our lives?
Happiness is not linked to outcomes. “Happiness is not a thing to be found,” says Gilbert. It doesn’t matter if you get this particular job or find that particular relationship. Any other possible outcome can make us feel as happy as the one we really focused on in the first place.
The wisdom here is that changing goals or taking a different route from the one you envisioned would not make you less happy.
Or we could say that atttachment and ungrounded expectations could lead to unnecessary disappointments. Having a more relaxed view of things and of life in general, and having flexibility will surely lead to more happiness.
Having too much freedom to choose or change, says Gilbert is the enemy to happiness. This is definitely a shocking revelation, right? But it is exactly what this study found. Our psychological immune system works best when you have limited choices, for example when we are married. So if you are married and feel unhappy, maybe you could reconsider your happiness quotient, add a few more grateful things to the bin, and change your view about the alternative options to more happiness.
The idea however of reducing your options frees you to make better choices with less stress and can, in fact, lead to greater fulfillment.
Another point the author makes is that having too much ungrounded passion and ambition in life can lead to disastrous results. I think that we can find plenty of examples in all walks of life to demonstrate this statement. Gilbert cites Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, to support his argument.
But the main point here is that nothing in life is as important as keeping your integrity intact. Anytime you have to lie or cheat, or compromise your values, you are taking the risky road of becoming unhappy.
When we understand that happiness is not a goal or a thing but originating in our own physiological makeup, we can empower ourselves to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.This is a very wise study supporting the idea that we create our own happiness.