Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life

Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life

Manel Baucells

Language: English

Pages: 248

ISBN: 0520268210

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Manel Baucells and Rakesh Sarin have been conducting ground-breaking research on happiness for more than a decade, and in this book they distill their provocative findings into a lively, accessible guide for a wide audience of readers. Integrating their own research with the latest thinking in the behavioral and social sciences—including management science, psychology, and economics—they offer a new approach to the puzzle of happiness. Woven throughout with wisdom from the world’s religions and literatures, Engineering Happiness has something to offer everyone—regardless of background, profession, or aspiration—who wants to better understand, control, and attain a more joyful life.

• Shows how a few major principles can explain how happiness works and why it is so elusive

• Demonstrates how the essence of attaining happiness is choice

• Explores how to avoid happiness traps

• Tells how to recognize happiness triggers in everyday life

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the same reality produces different experiences because of adaptation. The environment, in this case the temperature, has changed the reference of comparison and what before used to be lukewarm water is now experienced as hot or cold, 59 60 / Laws of Happiness depending on the new reference. What you perceive is not the stimulus per se, but the difference between the current stimulation and the past stimulation.1 In other words, what you have experienced in the past influences your

making it at least twice as steep as the positive portion (see figure 4). Plainly, the line measuring unhappiness is steeper than the line measuring happiness. Thus, we tend to become unhappy more easily, more quickly, and more severely than we become happy. Loss aversion is universal. Football coaches, poker players, and deal makers all know that the pain from a loss tends to be felt more strongly than the joy from a win. Aversion to Loss / 73 5 Lose $10 0 Unhappiness -5 HAPPYDONS 10

University of Chicago Booth School of Business has explored many ways in which loss aversion affects our lives, and how it can be used for good. He and Shlomo Benartzi of the UCLA 76 / Laws of Happiness Anderson School of Management have successfully gotten employees to save more for retirement. Their program, Save More Tomorrow, is based on a simple idea: employees resist putting money in their pension plans because it reduces their monthly income and creates a feeling of loss. Instead,

Since our friends have a total of one hundred coins each, they must use these coins wisely Diminishing Sensitivity / 83 to rent the right type of car for the right duration. Before you read further, think for a moment what you would do in this situation. Would you spend the hundred coins to rent a luxury sports car for twenty-five days, and then take the bus for the remaining twenty-five days? Or would you rather spend the hundred coins to rent a midsize car for the entire fifty days? Let us see

better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” goals In his studies, the psychologist Jonathan Freedman claimed that people with the ability to set objectives for themselves—both short-term and long-term—are happier.6 The University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has found that working hard toward a goal and making progress to the point of expecting a goal to be realized don’t just activate positive feelings—they also suppress negative emotions such as fear and

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