Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Another good question

Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy - The Atlantic

Here's a key paragraph from the interview:
Raghunathan: That's the plight of most people in the world, I would say. There are expectations that if you achieve some given thing, you're going to be happy. But it turns out
that's not true. And a large part of that is due to adaptation, but a large part of it also is that you see this mountain in front of you and you want to climb over it. And when you do, it turns out there are more mountains to climb.
The one thing that has really really helped me in this regard is a concept that I call “the dispassionate pursuit of passion” in the book, and basically the concept boils down to
not tethering your happiness to the achievement of outcomes. The reason why it's important to not tie happiness to outcomes is that outcomes by themselves don't really have an unambiguously positive or negative effect on your happiness. Yes, there are some outcomes—you get a terminal disease, or your child dies—that are pretty extreme, but let's
leave those out. But if you think about it, the breakup that you had with your childhood girlfriend, or you broke an arm and were in a hospital bed for two months, when they occurred, you might have felt, “Oh my goodness, this is the end of the world! I'm never going to
recover from it.” But it turns out we're very good at recovering from those, and not just that, but those very events that we thought were really extremely negative were in fact pivotal in making us grow and learn.
Everybody's got some kind of a belief about whether good things are going to happen or bad things are going to happen. There's no way to scientifically prove that one of these beliefs
is more accurate than another. But if you believe life is benign, you're going to see lots of evidence for it. If you think life is malign, you're going to see lots of evidence for it. It's kind of like a placebo effect. Given that all of these beliefs are all equally valid, why not adopt the belief that is going to be more useful to you in your life as you go along?

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