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Fake Happiness

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What in the world is psychology? What is happiness and is it possible that there is several types of happiness? Who in the world discovered that the 7,180 some odd billion people in the world have so many different emotions and personalities? And who in the world is Dan Gilbert? In this paper I'm going to answer each one of those question with the knowledge of obtained through the TED talk, a lecture given by Dan Gilbert and the information I've also received in lectures. I will also include my personal opinion on happiness.

Back in 1879 Wilhelm Wundt opens first experimental laboratory in psychology at the University of Leipzig, Germany. He credited psychology as an academic discipline. Of course several people made history in the development of psychology, but I just wanted to give a brief background of where history started. Now that we are in the 21st century psychology has developed tremendously and everything and everyone has evolved. In 2 million years our brains grew almost 3 times as big. As they grew, we got a new structure, the prefrontal cortex. It's our simulator.

We also have an impact bias. Our Impact bias is our tendency for our mental simulator to work poorly. We imagine one scenario to be so different from another scenario in terms of what happens in the end. For example, the difference between winning or losing a baseball game, gaining or losing a lover, getting or not getting that job we want so bad, passing or not passing a college test have far less impact and less dramatic outcome than we expected. The differences between winning or losing and getting or not getting is less significant because happiness can be synthesized by another situation. We act like we don't care and we move on to the next best thing in hope the outcome becomes better and better every time.

Dan Gilbert is a Harvard psychology professor applauded for his TED Talk lectures. One that had stuck out to some 5,739 million individuals is his "The surprising science of happiness". What is synthetic happiness? According to gilbert it is the same thing as natural happiness, but synthetic happiness is termed as what we make when we don't get what we want and natural happiness is what we get when we do get what we want. And to top it all off we all have our own custom made "psychological immune system", which is what humans have developed to cope with the world we live in today.

Dan Gilbert opens his lecture with a surprising question of "Would you rather win the lottery or become a paraplegic?" Now you can assume the most common answer is of course winning the lottery. Who wouldn't want to win money? But Gilbert is quick to correct his students. After taking a quick survey of the room he says the lotto winner and the paraplegic are equally happy! Who would have thought that someone who can't move for the rest of their life would be equally as happy as someone who is now filthy rich? I would have never thought that would be the case.

In a Harvard photography course, a sample of students were given the choice to keep one of the two pictures that they developed; half of the students were given the option to reverse their choice, while the other half was given only one chance. As it turns out, the students with a reversible



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