Synthetic Happiness

“The world IS as we SEE it.”

“We create our own reality.”

“We attract into our lives what we put attention on.”

If you have looked into alternative ways to view the world you have certainly come across those ideas, promoted by many of the mainstream new-age gurus. Science usually had nothing much to say about that as there was not much to measure and science is supposed to be about the measurability of phenomena.

And how can you measure something if the result is not only affected by the measurer but indeed created altogether?

Now we have TED come to help us. TED, the yearly conference on Technology, Entertainment, and Design, held in Monterey, California (now moving to other places as well) gives speakers the opportunity to speak about their area of expertise for 20 minutes. Speakers are often not the usual suspects, and I have been surprised by the subjects presented.

Today I ran into a speech by Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert who says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong. He supports this premise with intriguing research and explains it in an accessible and unexpected fashion.

What he is actually giving us in his talk is the scientific confirmation that all those new-age gurus are correct.


Then comes Matthieu Ricard, sometimes called the “happiest man in the world,” he is a Buddhist monk, author, photographer, and apparently, practitioner of the subject discussed in Dan Gilbert’s talk…