Synthetic Happiness vs. Natural Happiness [Video]

According to Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist and author of the book, Stumbling on Happiness, synthetic happiness is the happiness we create when we don’t get what we want. And, we believe that synthetic happiness will never measure up to natural happiness—the “true” happiness we experience when things go our way. Not so!

According to Gilbert, “we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity [happiness] we are constantly chasing when we choose experiences.”

Yes, we actually create our own happiness.

Unfortunately, we often don’t recognize this fact. And, ironically, we believe that freedom to choose is the key to our happiness when in reality, when we are forced a certain lot, we actually do find a way to be happy with it. In fact, research shows that after one year, those who have become paralyzed and those who have won the lottery experience the same level of happiness. Of course if you ask someone in advance which experience will make them happy, 100% say winning the lottery.

It turns out it’s just how our brains are wired.

I believe this is a good thing—a protective mechanism if you will—in a world where so much of our experience is out of out control. Yet we always have control over how we choose to deal with the experiences life deals us.

This research is right in line with other research that indicates that only 10% of our happiness is determined by our circumstances. The lion’s share is determined by our attitudes toward our circumstances.

In this TED video, Daniel Gilbert elaborates on research and findings about synthetic happiness.

It’s 21 minutes long but it’s well worth a watch.



About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. She now teaches marketing and helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

3 comments on “Synthetic Happiness vs. Natural Happiness [Video]

  1. Great video, Deb!
    I have actually thought of what makes me happy. And here, is my partial list:
    – coming home to a really great dinner my wife made
    – while on the subject of food: Kraft Dinner, hot dogs and baked beans make me VERY happy!
    – looking forward to, and then, spending time with friends where you know the conversation will be incredible
    – opening a bottle of wine and smelling the first glass from a great Napa California Cabernet
    – sitting in my big leather lounge chair with a glass of bourbon and movie
    – going to the movies with my wife
    – getting lost in one of my video games
    – that moment on stage during the song when it’s all going great and you forget there’s an audience there
    Like I said – partial list 🙂 And that ain’t synthesized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *