You Can’t Predict Happiness

You Can’t Predict Happiness

And decisions are way easier after you make them.

We bumped into an interesting article in Time. Have you ever really looked forward to something and it sucked? Or have you ever dreaded something and it turned out to be pretty cool (see our review of Definitely, Maybe)? Well, a Harvard professor says you’re not alone. And it’s not because you got your hopes up or sandbagged expectations, respectively.

Prof. Daniel Gibson has theorized that A) our past experiences and proclivities are only a very rough guide to how we’ll react to new experiences; and B) the existence of alternatives does not typically influence how much you enjoy a single experience. He proved all of this using undergrads, potato chips (that's crisps to you, Nigel), chocolate, and sardines. In essence, he’s saying opportunity costs/ schmopportunity costs.

How is this relevant to relationships? Funny you should ask. One of the examples that he gives is a person picking a spouse of one personality type over another. Most people assume that they’ll miss characteristics of the spouse not chosen (i.e. adventurous vs. introspective, etc), but it turns out that is not the case. When someone makes “irrevocable decision” (or crosses the Rubicon, Caesar) they tend to be happier afterward irrespective of that decision than at the time of decision-making. This is all pretty new age-y/ in the moment/ Hopi. We dig it, but wow, here we are regretting every decision we’ve ever made like a bunch of suckers. We’re still kicking ourselves for getting the turkey yesterday instead of the tuna salad.

Do yourself a favor and read more about this phenomenon at Time and the image at the top looks like a Kelly Clarkson album cover…