What is Happiness?
People travel through life with what seems like a single goal: to be happy. This may seem like a selfish way to live, however this lone objective is the motivation behind nearly all actions. Even seemingly selfless deeds make people feel better about themselves. That warm feeling experienced while doing charitable acts can be described as happiness. But what is authentic happiness? There is an endless possibility of answers to this question, and man seems to be always searching for the solution. Although one may reach his or her goals, there is always still something one strives for in order to be happy. In the book Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert takes the reader through
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All the experiences people have had throughout their lives shape the way the view the present and thus affects what really makes them happy. No two people go throughout life experiencing the exact same things in the exact same order. From birth until death every event, no matter how small, changes the way we assess the now. After somebody eats the greatest, tastiest cheeseburger ever, every other cheeseburger after that just will not seem as great. People subconsciously and consciously compare all experiences to the past. Every rock concert gone to is then compared to the ones that came before it. Gilbert (2003) states, “Studies demonstrate that once we have an experience, we cannot simply set it aside and see the world as we would have seen it had the experience never happened” (p. 53). This kind of sucks. A person can never go back to the way they felt on their first roller coaster, or when they tried their first ice cream cone. One will remember their past vacation to Hawaii as being extremely better than their current trip to Nebraska. However somebody who has never been on a vacation may think that this trip to Nebraska is just simply wonderful and full of excitement. Gilbert (2006) describes this as “Experience stretching,” and goes on to explain how people can really be happy in one situation but later on, after further experiences, are not as happy in