Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Science of Happiness: Pessimism, Myths and Misconceptions about Happiness

9/29/15: Is It Even Possible?

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So, another section, another video. This one talks about reasons why science has been pessimistic about whether we can increase our happiness and/or sustain it.

Scientists have determined that a pretty big chunk of our ability to be happy, about half, is predetermined by our genes. Relatedly, happiness is at least partially an innate personality trait, and tied to such personality traits as extroversion and neuroticism (hmm, doesn't look good for me, does it?). Finally, when things happen that affect our happiness level, we eventually revert to our baselines. So, are we just stuck?

We also get in our own way, as the next video describes. We think individual things or moments will make us happy, then we're on to seeking the next thing. We're really bad in general at predicting how happy -- or unhappy -- something is going to make us. We think material things will make us happier than experiences. And we think money is going to make us happy (which it does, but only up to a point).

Next is basically a glossary of terms that I'm not going to bore you with.  If I use one, I'll either explain it or link to a proper explanation of it. Either way.

Another video, this one about the money thing I mentioned above. Basically, having more money can make you happier -- it can buy more and more things that contribute to your well-being, like health care and education -- but only up to about an annual salary of $75,000 in the US (I wonder if there's a regional sliding scale. $75,000 doesn't go nearly as far in Manhattan as it does in Syracuse). After that, happiness plateaus, and some extremely wealthy people are actually less happy.

One last video finally sums up what it is that can make us happy -- the stuff on which this course is made. Those things are: Achievement , exercise (but mostly tied to achievement), getting enough sleep, and, most importantly, social connection and kindness.

We finally, only three weeks late, finish Week One with another problem set.

Next time: we start Week Two!

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