Friday, March 2, 2012

Thoughts on happiness

Andrew is reading a book on happiness. It sounds interesting.

Because I am a naturally cheery sort, who never* struggles with sadness or despair or frustration, I'm not reading the book for myself. But Andrew is passing some interesting bits on to me, which I will pass on to you, dear reader.

What do you think of these?

Increases in status are more powerful (by a factor of almost 3) than increases in income in raising happiness.

So if you get a pay rise along with everyone else, your happiness won't go up much. But if you alone get a rise, your status amongst your peers will increase and you'll become happier (for a little while.)

There are different systems in our brain that control wanting and liking. 

These can get out of synch, leading us to want stuff that we don't really even like. Like a kid in a shop who desperately wants a toy then gets home and doesn't play with it. Or like a grown up who works and works and works to get money - then never is happy because s/he doesn't get time with family. Economists have made a model of wellbeing based on market choices - the stuff we buy is the stuff that must make us happy - but it's far from accurate.

* never ever ever ever ever. Despair? What is that?

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