I have been reading a good book “Thinking, Fast and Slow” and it got me thinking.
The author discusses how people think and how they usually jump to a biased opinion, based on their intuition, without really thinking about it in a rational way.
He says we can’t even rely on our experiences, because our “remembering self is different than our our “experiencing self”. It is difficult to distinguish memories from experiences.
All of that is quite interesting bits of theory, but near the end of the book, which I just finished, he hits on what in his opinion makes people happy.
Love and Marriage
First he showed a chart showing what effect marriage has on well being and being happy. It seems most people were most happy around the time that got married. Five years later it really started to take a dip.
On their wedding day, the bride and groom know that the rate of divorce is high and marital disappointment is even higher, but they do not believe that these statistics apply to them. The author has several explanations for this; which I will leave for him to explain in the book.
He also cites a study that says there is no overall difference in experienced well being between women who lived with a mate and women who did not. The details of how the women spend their time explained the finding. Women who have a mate spend less time alone, but also much less time with friends. He says they spend more time making love, which is wonderful, but also more time doing housework, preparing food, and managing things, all relatively unpopular activities. Experienced well being is on average unaffected by marriage, because it changes some aspects of life for the better and others for the worse.
So What Does Affect One’s Satisfaction With Life?
The author says the genetics of temperament. A disposition for well being is as heritable as height or intelligence, as demonstrated by studies of twins separated at birth.
People who appear equally fortunate vary greatly in how happy they are.
Goals make a large difference in framing what makes you happy. The goals people set for themselves are so important to what they do and how they feel about it.
The author says people can’t even answer the question “Are you happy with your life?” correctly. If people were feeling good at the time of the survey, they were happy with their life. They even planted money so they could find it before taking the survey and those people were far more likely to reply as being happy with their life. On the other hand, if you are sick, getting a divorce or have set backs, you tend to feel your whole life has not been good. It’s called focusing bias.
Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.
Memories can make us happy. Why take so many photos on the vacation, rather than just experience the vacation. Maybe because we are building memories and that is what we will cherish about the vacation for some time to come.
Do you want to go back to the beach to the same place and routine you did last year? Or do you want to try an adventure, some place exciting you have never been to before. What memories will you have of these two type vacations. Is a memorable vacation better than one that is not?
You seem to be devoting your entire vacation to the construction of memories. Perhaps you should put away the camera and enjoy the moment, even if it is not very memorable.
All Things Considered
All things considered, how happy are you with your life these days?
Do you spend most of your time engaged in activities that you would rather continue than stop and little time in situations you wish to escape. And not too much time in a neutral state in which you don’t care either way. Very important because life is short.
Have you ever been totally absorbed in a task, in a flow – a state you achieve when enthralled by a book, a puzzle, golf, a pickleball or bocceball game, card game, dancing or another activity? You don’t want to be interrupted, do you. You are having a good time!
The use of time is one of the areas of life over which people have some control. Few individuals can “will” themselves to have a sunnier disposition, but some may be able to arrange their lives to spend less of their day idle, and more of their time doing the things they enjoy with people they like. The feelings associated with different activities suggest that another way to improve experience is to switch time from passive leisure, such as TV watching and Facebook browsing, to more active forms of leisure, including socializing and exercise.