CHAPTER 7 ORIGINS: HOW DID WE BECOME PYROMANIACS?

Happiness. Nothing more, nothing less.

The two are hard to tell apart. Pleasurable pursuits tend to lead to short term immediate rewards.  In contrast, pursuits of happiness lead to a longer lasting reward but tends to take time.

Psychologist Dan Gilbert faults our ability to mentally simulate situations.  While clearly a useful feature of our brain, it leads us to oversimplify and thereby leads us to miscalculate which choice is likely to lead to greater happiness. 

Contrary to what many imagine, despite becoming wealthier – despite record high stock market numbers – over the decades, levels of happiness have declined.

Just like a child may come to think that the refrigerator light is always on (since it is on whenever he/she checks), we susceptible to thinking that whatever we are thinking of has a bigger impact on our lives than it actually does.  We may thus overestimate the impact of consumer goods on happiness.

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