I recently watched Dan Gilbert’s TED Talk on the science of being happy. I always gain something from watching TED Talks, no matter who the speaker nor what the topic, but WOW. This was by far my favorite TED Talk yet and it is one for which I will never forget the content.
The very first thing that caught my attention was that here was this scientist and his topic was about something that seems to be more abstract than concrete, more subjective than objective: an human emotion. Not only did Gilbert thoroughly discuss and explain happiness but he used raw, factual data to back up his theories! Mr. Gilbert also relied on other supporting evidence such as quotes from real-life people who had lived through what most people would consider an adverse situation.
The face of happiness. 🙂
As I listened to this scientist explain the difference between natural happiness (when we find happiness because we get what we want) and synthetic happiness (when we choose to be happy despite not getting what we want) I looked back on my own life and realized that I had experienced both kinds of happiness. Like anyone, I am usually instantly pleased to receive a favorable outcome in any situation however, I have lived through many trials in my life in which I had to choose to evaluate the situation and come away from it with a “silver linings” perspective. For some people this may seem rather difficult but for me it has become second nature. As someone who has found this synthetic happiness to greatly enhance the quality of my own personal life, I hope to be able to impart this knowledge onto my students. As Logan La Plante discussed in his TED Talk, children rarely learn how to be happy in school these days, so what if we were able to teach them the difference between natural and synthetic happiness? I believe we, as teachers, could make a huge impact on the lives of students just using this deeply profound, yet simple idea.
I would love to know more about the actual scientific facts behind this theory although the idea is easy to understand and makes complete sense. For instance, what do brain waves of those experiencing synthetic happiness look like compared to those of someone experiencing natural happiness? Or, what are the long term effects of instant gratification, or natural happiness, on elementary aged children?