The Futile Pursuit of Happiness

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“The Futile Pursuit of Happiness”

When it comes to predicting how something will make you feel in the future, you will most likely be wrong. In the book Discovering Pop Culture, edited by Anna Romasino, is the article “The Futile Pursuit of Happiness”. In the article, author Jon Gertner talks about how people think certain things bring them happiness but aren’t as fulfilling as they may think. Gertner gives examples by writing about four men that have been questioning how people predict what will make them happy and how they feel after it happens. Among these men are a psychology professor Daniel Gilbert, psychologist Tim Wilson, economist George Loewenstein, and psychologist Daniel Kahneman. Gertner uses facts from scores of experiments from these men. He backs up his thoughts by returning to their theories. Gertner does a good job relating his arguments back to his main idea. I agree with Gertner that it is difficult to figure out what exactly is going to make you happy.

“Almost all actions are based on our predictions of the emotional consequences of events” (Gertner 34). This is how Gertner describes making the choice to purchase items, have children, buy a house or work. Gertner then explains that humans can understand big differences like how people “would rather be stuck in Montauk than in a Midtown elevator” (34). According to his research, people overestimate the intensity and how long their emotional reactions last to these choices. Gertner wrote that even though a new car would excite us, the excitement isn’t as much and doesn’t last as long as we thought it would.

Not only do people make the mistake of how much happiness they will gain, they also make mistakes in choosing which choice will make them happy. The psychologist, Gilbert, calls this mis-wanting. The example given is that you might want a new plasma television but over time it will become less appealing and much quicker than expected. Gilbert disagrees with the...
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