Ted Talk: Mistaken Expectations

05 Feb

Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness — sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself. Watch through to the end for a sparkling Q&A with some familiar TED faces.

Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong — a premise he supports with intriguing research, and explains in his accessible and unexpectedly funny book, Stumbling on Happiness.


The talk lasts approximately 22 minutes, with a further 10 minute expanded interactive discussion.  The majority of the talk can be listened to, although in a few spots the visual aids assist in getting his point across.

I found the talk to be relevant, interesting, and enlightening.  I was also intrigued by the way people make value comparisons, and it’s true in most areas of life – our perceptions are skewed by media sound bytes, what visual or verbal message comparisons are given to aid in our value comparisons.  Overall how we humans determine value and use value comparisons is a very sad commentary on our lack of depth, and how willing we are to get the instant gratification today instead of seeing how manipulated we are (by others and ourselves) in the choices we make.

Growing up with parents who were born before the depression and now living in the “I want it now” society of instant gratification, the differences between mom and dad and how they lived their lives, and how we as society live our life today is stunning.  We need the reward – they needed the knowledge that each little bit helped the bigger long-term picture whether it was their future or helping others less fortunate.  Through research of those organizations they supported, and a commitment to regular support they helped many, many children and their families and communities around the world to have a better future.  Knowing they helped was their reward. 

I try to live like my parents did understanding how each bit helps and the need to do my part regularly, ensuring that money does the most good, by putting it in the right hands, while also working for my long-term financial stability. Yet at times also wanting it now, like when TV died and we rushed right out to replace it. I try to stop and think about everything and not be swayed by the sound bites, the value comparison marketing ploys, overcome the need to have it now – sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but I am getting better at it the older I get.

The talk was about more than the above and is a good refresher in recognising what we do without realizing it.  Hope you enjoy it.

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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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