Friday, February 6, 2009


It is now well understood that our happiness is much more affected by CHANGES to our situation than to the ABSOLUTE level of our well being. To explain this to the kids I used the analogy of how our body senses acceleration, say in a car or plan, but doesn't feel the absolute speed we are traveling at. We feel acceleration from zero to 25 miles per hour, yet we feel nothing if we are steadily traveling at 500 MPH.

In a similar fashion, we are affected by our personal gains and losses, but get used to whatever level becomes steady state - whether for our material well being or even for how many friends we have or how we do at school. P said he constantly gets happines out of his friendship with his best friend. I said that is probably because their relationship is growing and improving. They do new things together. This took the conversation a bit towards those things that give us pleasure, which tend to be the ones that constantly evolve and grow. For example, playing the piano is satisfying as long as one is learning new songs. When they just learn a new song, they get pleasure out of this change (from not knowing it to knowing it). If they played the same song allo the time they would get bored (no acceleration). The same applies to sports, programming, playing with Lego, drawing...

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