Summary of Why are we happy? Why aren't we happy? | Dan Gilbert

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00:00:00 - 00:20:00

Dan Gilbert discusses the difference between happiness and unhappiness, and how our emotions can be influenced by our thoughts and experiences. He suggests that we can learn to be happier by understanding our own emotions and by pursuing experiences instead of goals.

  • 00:00:00 In this talk, Dan Gilbert discusses the prefrontal cortex and how it impacts happiness. He states that, although winning or losing in life has less impact than people expect, it is still important to remember that happiness can be synthesized.
  • 00:05:00 In this video, Dan Gilbert explains that happiness is a construct that is synthesized by humans. He then shows examples of people who are happy, and discusses how society may have a belief that synthetic happiness is of an inferior quality.
  • 00:10:00 In this video, Dan Gilbert discusses the phenomenon of happiness synthesis, or the process of making happiness out of negative emotions. He demonstrates this with a study in which amnesiac patients struggled to rank stimuli from the most to the least liked. Normal controls showed a shift in affect and aesthetics in response to the stimuli, while amnesiacs showed no change. Gilbert argues that happiness synthesis is most effective when we are trapped, or unable to change our situation.
  • 00:15:00 In this video, Dan Gilbert explains the difference between dating and marriage, and how people can be unhappy because they don't know how to be happy in the situations they find themselves in. He also explains an experiment conducted at Harvard in which students were given the option to keep or give up their pictures from a photography class. Nearly two-thirds of the students chose to be in the course where they had the opportunity to change their minds, because they were afraid that if they didn't, they would regret it later.
  • 00:20:00 The speaker talks about how our desires and worries can both be exaggerated, leading to negative consequences. He suggests that our longings and fears can be tempered by pursuing experiences instead of goals.

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