Happiness – what else do you want?

I recently watched MoreVanilla SkyInceptionSurrogatesTotal Recall, Equilibrium, and The Matrix. While there are a lot of things I do not like about those movies, they circle around an important question: Given the choice would you choose to be happy for the rest of your life?

Bhutan has a Gross National Happiness Commission that oversees legislation, so that legislation does not decrease the national happiness. Whether it works in practice I do not know, but I honestly believe it is important.

For a short time I consulted for a company that focused on customer’s satisfaction. Everything else was secondary. And there is some truth to it: If the customer got a crappy solution, but was satisfied, then that is better than a customer who got a perfect solution but was dissatisfied.

Dan Gilbert demonstrates that happiness can be synthetic.

His lecture made me actively commit to choices – and not try to undo a choice where the alternative would only be marginally better. Also I actively stop myself when I start thinking “if I had only done this or that, then everything would be better,” and instead accept the way things are now. Given the choice between a bit more money or more happiness, I always choose the happiness option these days.

The movies considers different techniques for making you happy: Glasses, entering a dream world, implanted memories. I don’t really see these techniques would work in reality, and Dan Gilberts synthetic happiness only goes so far. But what if you could be drugged into happiness?

Except from the bad side effects cocaine and heroine seem to give its users happiness. So what if you could make a drug that would give you the same high every time and which had no side effects? Or an implant that will give you a boost of happiness at the push of a button?

What do you want from life – deep down? When I ask people they tend to answer: “I want to be rich/famous/powerful/have a family/make a difference”. And why: “Because then I will be happy.” But what if we could short circuit that, so you can be happy without going the indirect way?

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