Objects in Future Appear Much Larger Than They Are

From the latest on the frontiers of research on happiness…the first part I knew but a good reminder. The second part I’d never heard before – I guess that’s why I always get the same thing on the menu at Crepes on Cole!

A pioneer in the research of affective forecasting, Dr. Gilbert has illuminated a startling and fundamental mistake that both men and women make: they overestimate how future successes and failures will affect their happiness, for the better or worse.

Not that people are easily disappointed by a promotion or apathetic about being fired. Rather, as Dr. Gilbert has found in charting his subjects’ lives and reactions, "the good isn’t as good, and the bad isn’t as bad as we think it’s going to be."

A corollary finding is that a single big payoff – a fat raise, an Hermès Kelly bag, a hot cha cha date – affects people’s essential happiness much less than a routine of small delights.

Dr. Gilbert’s research also indicates that people who indulge in "false variety seeking" – that is, incessantly trying something new for variety’s sake – are generally less happy than people who stick to their tried-and-true favorites.

"The joys of variety are vastly overestimated in every domain of pleasure," he said.

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