Being a Minimalist

Posted under: philosophy, psychology, Uncategorized.
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The acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness. In fact I believe the contrary to be true. Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote an article about happiness in the New York Times. She writes:

TravelSuitcase

New studies of consumption and happiness show that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses. Current research suggests that, unlike consumption of material goods, spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness.

One major finding is that spending money for an experience produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money material goods. I would much rather put my money toward concert tickets, French lessons, guitar lessons, science classes, camping trips, and excursions to Europe or other countries. As professor Elizabeth W. Dunn (University of British Columbia) said: If money doesn’t make you happy then you probably aren’t spending it right.” We can reminisce about our experiences. Interestingly, no matter how many less-than-pleasant experiences come with it, we often remember the experience as a whole in a rosy, positive light. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1) Aug 09 2010


The Pollyanna Principle

Posted under: food, health, philosophy, psychology.
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I often wondered why I recall events in my life as mostly happy and positive. PollyannaThen this last semester as I was taking a sociology course, I came across a theory called the “Pollyanna Principle”. This is named after the book Pollyanna, about a young girl who fervently held a naively optimistic and grateful outlook on life. According to the Pollyanna Principle, the brain processes information that is pleasing and agreeable in a more precise and exact manner as compared to unpleasant information. We actually tend to remember past experiences as more rosy than they actually occurred.

In 1978 researchers Margaret Matlin and David Stang provided substantial evidence of the Pollyanna Principle. They found that people expose themselves to positive stimuli and avoid negative stimuli, they take longer to recognize what is unpleasant or threatening than what is pleasant and safe, and they report that they encounter positive stimuli more frequently than they actually do.

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Comments (4) May 20 2009


Synthetic Happiness

Posted under: psychology, video.
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I watched this video by Dan Gilbert about happiness on Ted Talks. He challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want, and states that our psychological immune system lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned. Gilbert explains how the prefrontal cortex in our brain acts as an “experience simulator.” He states:

We have something called the ‘impact bias’ which is the tendency for the simulator to work badly–for the simulator to make you believe that different outcomes are more different than in fact they really are. But they have far less impact, intensity, and much less duration than people expect them to have. A recent study that shows how major life traumas affect people suggests that if it happened over three months ago, with only a few exceptions, it has no impact whatsoever on your happiness.

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Comments (6) Nov 24 2008