This is one of the most disturbing TED talks I’ve ever seen. Its author, Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, contends that happiness comes in two flavours: “natural happiness”, which is what you get when you get what you wanted, and “manufactured happiness” (Gilbert’s expression), which is what you could get otherwise. I emphasized “could” because, he contends, that while we humans have the ability to actually create happiness, most of us don’t do it. Why? Economics. Don’t ask, see the talk.
But before that, I want to point something out: what Gilbert calls manufactured happiness, is not something along the lines of “it is only at the tree loaded with fruit that people throw stones”—i.e. “yeah I didn’t get it, but it wasn’t that much good anyway”. In fact, his research group carried out an experiment, he tells, with people suffering from anterograde amnesia, that shows that something more fundamental is taking place: your actual, intrinsic preference changes!
Quoting myself: “Don’t ask, see the talk.”